Razorbacks Prepare for Homecoming Game
Coming off a last-second, 30-27 loss to Ole Miss, UA interim head coach John L. Smith told his team to move past last week and focus on this week’s game.
“We tried to get (the game) buried as quickly as we could so we can get on to Tulsa,” Smith said.
Injuries are again a factor for the Razorbacks. Senior tight end Chris Gragg and junior running back Knile Davis will not play this Saturday.
Gragg “re-aggravated” his knee during the second quarter against the Rebels, Smith said. Davis will be out due to a hamstring injury. No timetable has been set for either of their returns, Smith said.
In the first quarter against Ole Miss, Gragg caught a 42-yard touchdown pass, making his injury particularly disheartening for the Razorbacks. He had missed the previous three games with the same injury.
“You really feel bad for him,” Smith said. “We could certainly use him, but that’s part of football.”
Smith also said that he is hoping senior defensive tackle DeQuinta “D.D.” Jones’ “legs can get a little better” and that his status for this Saturday is uncertain.
The injury news wasn’t all bad, though. Senior quarterback Tyler Wilson suffered a minor hip bruise during the game, but will not miss any practice or game time.
Despite the injuries, Wilson expects Arkansas to be fine.
“It’s frustrating when you have key guys go down,” Wilson said. “But we’ve always prided ourselves in guys stepping up.”
Junior Austin Tate and redshirt freshman Alex Voelzke will both take snaps at tight end this week and senior Dennis Johnson will receive the bulk of the carries at running back, just as he did last week.
Junior wide receiver Brandon Mitchell’s status remains “up in the air” after missing last week because of a violation of team rules, Smith said.
Saturday, the Razorbacks face the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, which is 7-1 overall and 5-0 in Conference USA play. Tulsa is coming off a bye week and is the fourth opponent to play Arkansas following a bye week.
“It seems like everyone on our schedule has a week off to prepare for us,” Smith said. “They’ll be prepared and they’re going to come in, being a close neighbor, and play well.”
Tulsa’s offense comes into this week averaging 248.8 rushing yards per game, which is ninth-best in the country. Senior Alex Singleton and juniors Ja’Terian Douglas and Trey Watts have all gained over 475 yards on the ground so far this season.
“I expect them to line up and run the football,” Smith said. “They have a good offensive line, and they’ll throw it enough to keep you honest.”
Offensively, the Razorbacks must deal with the country’s leading defense in sacks and second best defense in tackles for loss. Wilson thinks that Arkansas’ key this week is finishing drives with touchdowns.
“We’ve done a real good job moving the ball from 20 yard line to 20 yard line, but we’re settling for field goals,” Wilson said.
Saturday’s game will be the 91st homecoming game in school history.
“It’s going to be a good week,” Smith said. “We’ll have a lot of family coming into town and hopefully a lot of fans will be here. We are excited about Homecoming.”