Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A double graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Biletnikoff Award.
Little optimism for Gragg's return
Chris Gragg caught 7 passes for 110 yards and 2 touchdowns in the season opener against Jacksonville State, but has played in only two full games since.
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas could be without tight end Chris Gragg for the sixth time in seven games at Mississippi State on Saturday as the tight end continues to nurse a knee injury suffered in September.
Razorbacks coach John L. Smith said he isn't optimistic Gragg, the team's second-leading receiver, will be available for the game. The redshirt senior has 22 catches for 289 yards and 3 touchdowns this season, but has played only one quarter since suffering the injury in the first quarter of Arkansas' loss to Rutgers on Sept. 22.
"The thing you don't want to do is put him in there before he's ready to protect himself, you know what I mean, on a half a leg and then re-injure it," Smith said. "I'm not totally optimistic on him."
Gragg had a career game against Mississippi State last season, catching eight passes for 119 yards and a touchdown in a win over the Bulldogs at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. In addition to Gragg, Arkansas will be without its third-leading receiver, Brandon Mitchell, who will serve the final of a four-game suspension.
Smith said he is more optimistic running back Knile Davis, who has missed two games with a hamstring injury, will play against the Bulldogs. Davis had a career-high 187 rushing yards and two touchdowns in Arkansas' last game in Starkville, Miss., though the junior hasn't factored nearly as much into the rush game this season when healthy.
The statuses of two other players remains unclear entering game-week preparations for Mississippi State (7-3, 3-3 SEC). Running back Nate Holmes suffered "an injury above the shoulders" - a phrase in the past used to describe concussions - against South Carolina and linebacker Terrell Williams remains suspended following a Nov. 4 arrest for driving while intoxicated.
"He's still earning and learning to work his way back onto this team," Smith said. "That's kind of the best answer I can give you. He hasn't completed that yet."