By Otis Kirk
FAYETTEVILLE — Super senior linebacker Hayden Henry had to sit out the first half this past Saturday, Bumper Pool will be the same this week and Grant Morgan was ejected very early against Rice.
The common theme here is all were suspended due to the targeting rule. Against Rice, Morgan and Pool started, but Henry couldn’t go in when a quick ejection sent the Greenwood super senior to the bench for the remainder of the game.
“I thought I played well,” Henry said. “I didn’t play the best game I’ve ever played. As far as just being ticked off, I mean, I’m sitting there the whole half, first game of the year, and I’m [on a] suspension for a penalty I committed 10 months ago. So it’s a little bit outlandish.
“But I had to sit out, so that was a little bit of pent up aggression definitely in the second half. I thought I played good. Didn’t play my best game. I thought I tackled well and used my hands good, played physical. It is what it is.”
Henry admitted standing on the sideline when you know the team needs you can lead to frustration.
“Very frustrating,” Henry said. “Obviously I’m standing there on the sideline helpless when I know I would be in the game helping our team. So that’s very frustrating. But it is the rule, so I’ve got to sit out and pay my penalty or whatever. But you know I went in the second half and I was a little ticked off, so I thought that kind of fueled me a little bit.”
Pool, despite the late ejection, had 14 tackles to lead the Hogs on Saturday. Henry was asked if he will tell Pool anything about sitting out a half?
“I mean there’s nothing I can tell him that Coach (Mike) Scherer can’t tell him,” Henry said. “He’s got to prepare this week like he’s playing in the whole game, just like I did last week. I think he will. He’s a guy this whole team counts on when he goes in the game. Everyone knows he’s going to make a play. It obviously sucks he’s got to sit out. Mentally I know he’ll be locked in and ready to play the second half.”
Speaking of pent up, how pent up is Morgan for the Texas game?
“Let me tell you something, he is pent up,” Henry said. “He is ready to play, and he’s been practicing like it, so I am pumped to get to stand by him and go to war with him on Saturday.”
While Morgan, Pool and Henry are the top three linebackers in Arkansas’ rotation, redshirt junior Andrew Parker had to play a lot of Saturday due to the ejections and previous suspensions. Parker finished with four tackles and two quarterback hurries.
“Andrew played amazing,” Henry said. “Honestly, I was so proud of him. He played his best game so far in college. He stepped in and played really, really well. So I was proud of him. He really flew around and made a lot of plays.”
In addition to the linebackers, Henry feels the Hogs will get 6-foot-6, 320-pound John Ridgeway back for the defensive line. Ridgeway had an appendectomy and missed the Rice contest.
“He’s an absolute beast, and I’m excited for everyone to get to watch what I’ve seen him do all fall camp,” Henry said. “Because he’s a monster. When he’s in shoulder pads and a helmet, you’re like, ‘How are you human?’ Because he looks so big. And when he’s right in front of you and you’re in your stance, you’re like, ‘This guys it taking up both A gaps.’
“So yeah, with that being said, I am excited to play with him. I think he can be a special player for us. And I think he’s getting healthy and feeling good.”
Henry and the Razorbacks will host Texas on Saturday night at 6 p.m. Henry is hoping for a packed stadium.
“I’m anticipating some home field advantage, which would be something that I haven’t experienced in a while,” Henry said. “I would love to have a serious home field advantage and get some loud fans in there that want to actually help us out and be extremely loud. When you’re out there on third down and there’s 75,000 people screaming, it’s really hard for an offense to convert and make plays. So, I’m really excited to play in front of a huge crowd like that. I hope we can use it to our advantage.”