FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas returned to the practice fields on Tuesday preparing for Saturday’s SEC opener against Ole Miss in Oxford.
Senior left guard Austin Capps and senior defensive end Jamario Bell, both projected to start on Saturday, were in yellow on Tuesday. Arkansas had two true freshmen in their places. Ricky Stromberg was the left guard and Mataio Soli was the end opposite senior Gabe Richardson. Senior defensive end Dorian Gerald was lost for the season against Portland State.
While senior tight end Cheyenne O’Grady was practicing without a protective jersey Chase Harrell had a green one on. Harrell, a senior, played on Saturday while O’Grady missed the game.
Junior linebacker D’Vone McClure who left Saturday’s game early was also in a green protective jersey.
Two more true freshmen, Collin Clay and Zach Williams, were backing up Richardson and Soli. Both Soli and Williams played this past Saturday.
While seven true freshmen played in the 20-13 victory over Portland State it appears they will be joined by some others this week. Morris and John Chavis both acknowledged on Monday they have to get those defensive ends ready including Eric Gregory.
“As far as our depth at defensive end, yes, we anticipating Eric Gregory (being back),” Morris said. “Eric practiced some last week and will practice more this week. Colin Clay will be in the mix as well. Zach Williams in the mix. There’s a lot of moving parts there with that.”
Chavis was asked if Bell would start in Gerald’s place?
“Yeah I would think so, maybe,” Chavis said. “I say maybe, but he was certainly he was the next guy up in the game and I don’t think that will change.”
Arkansas’ inexperience at defensive end beyond Gerald and Richardson is noticeable. The one who starts opposite Richardson on Saturday will be making his first career start whether it’s Bell, Soli or someone else. Gerald and Richardson each have started three games since coming to Arkansas to qualify as the experienced defensive ends on the team.