Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll.
Arkansas Razorbacks Report:
Hamilton receiving attention
Cobi Hamilton (11) was named as one of 10 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award, given to college football’s top receiver.
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas receiver Cobi Hamilton was named one of 10 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award, given to college football’s top receiver, Monday by the Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation.
Hamilton, a senior from Texarkana, Texas, has broken Arkansas single-season records with 73 receptions and 1,149 receiving yards.
The group of semifinalists also includes West Virginia’s Tavon Austin and Steadman Bailey, Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks, New Mexico State’s Austin Franklin, Arizona’s Austin Hill, Clemson’s Deandre Hopkins, USC’s Marqise Lee, Louisiana Tech’s Quinton Patton and Baylor’s Terrance Williams.
It will be narrowed to three finalists Nov. 19. The winner will be announced at the Home Depot College Football Awards show on Dec. 6.
Hamilton owns the SEC single-game record with the 303 receiving yards in Arkansas’ 35-26 loss to Rutgers on Sept. 22. He leads the SEC and ranks fifth nationally with 114.9 receiving yards per game and he’s 10th in the country with 7.3 catches per game.
TCU Coach Gary Patterson, who is thought to be a candidate for the Arkansas head coaching job after the season, has mostly brushed off media inquiries.
“My name comes up every year. My actions have spoken for what I am,” Patterson told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Sunday, following Saturday’s 23-10 home loss to Kansas State.
Asked Monday about the Arkansas job, Patterson, who interviewed for the post in 2008, replied, “I don’t think there’s anything to that.”
TCU, 6-4 in its first season in the Big 12, has an open date this weekend before finishing with games against Texas and Oklahoma.
Arkansas Coach John L. Smith said tailback Knile Davis is more likely to return this week from his hamstring injury than tight end Chris Gragg is from his re-injured knee and upper-leg injury.
“Knile’s ... leg is coming along, and he had a good weekend of treatment,” Smith said. “So I’m more optimistic there than I am with Gragg.”
Smith said the Razorbacks did not want Gragg back in the lineup before he’s ready to protect himself and potentially re-injure the knee, as he did in the first half of the Ole Miss game following a four-week layoff.
Freshman tailback and kick returner Nate Holmes (concussion) is questionable, though Smith mentioned “we’re keeping our fingers crossed.”
Linebacker Terrell Williams, suspended last week for his DWI charge, has work to do before rejoining the team.
“He is still earning and working to earn his way back onto this team,” Smith said. “That’s kind of the best answer I can give you, and he hasn’t completed that yet.”
If freshman Nate Holmes is unavailable to return for Saturday’s road game at Mississippi State, the Razorbacks could work in senior Kaelon Kelleybrew,freshmen D’Arthur Cowan and Keon Hatcher and sophomore Keante Minor on kickoff and punt returns.
Holmes replaced tailback Dennis Johnson on kickoff returns last week after Johnson struggled with it against Ole Miss and Tulsa.
“We felt like Dennis was carrying such a load and thinking that we could expand Nate’s load as well,” Coach John L. Smith said.
“We just felt like that was a way of keeping Dennis a little bit more healthy, because that has become a big concern now, just making sure he’s healthy.”
No roster dump
After praising Arkansas’ talent level on his Sunday teleconference, Mississippi State Coach Dan Mullen went into more depth about the Hogs on Monday.
“They didn’t trade away all those players midseason,” he said. “They didn’t pull a [Boston] Red Sox and dump the roster after halfway through the season. They’re all still there.
“They have a top pick in the NFL Draft at quarterback. ... They have talented receivers around him and a good defense.
They’re battling through injuries and they’re backed to the wall.”
The biggest statistical difference between Arkansas and Mississippi State comes in turnover margin. The Bulldogs have an average margin of plus-1.2 turnovers per game, which is tied with LSU for the SEC and No. 8 nationally.
Arkansas has lost the turnover margin in 7 of 10 games, won it only against Auburn, and ranks No.
115 in the country with a minus-1.3 margin per game.
The Razorbacks lost the turnover battle 3-1 in Saturday’s 38-20 loss at South Carolina, with Tyler Wilson throwing two interceptions (1 returned 69 yards for a touchdown) and Dennis Johnson losing a fumble at the Gamecocks’ 5.
(All times Central)
Arkansas at Mississippi State, 11:21 a.m.
W. Carolina at Alabama, 11:21 a.m.
Jacksonville State at Florida, noon
Wofford at South Carolina, noon
Georgia Southern at Georgia, 12:30 p.m.
Alabama A&M at Auburn, 1 p.m.
Sam Houston State at Texas A&M, 2:30 p.m.
Mississippi at LSU, 2:30 p.m.
Syracuse at Missouri, 6 p.m.
Tennessee at Vanderbilt, 6 p.m.
Samford at Kentucky, 6:30 p.m.
Sports, Pages 18 on 11/13/2012