CB depth shaky thanks to injury issues

By: Jimmy Carter
Published: Thursday, August 18, 2016
University of Arkansas defender Jared Collins tries to tackle Auburn running back Peyton Collins during Saturdays game October, 24, 2015 against Auburn at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
Photo by Michael Woods
University of Arkansas defender Jared Collins tries to tackle Auburn running back Peyton Collins during Saturdays game October, 24, 2015 against Auburn at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.

— A week ago, Arkansas secondary coach Paul Rhoads expressed confidence in six cornerbacks he felt were starting-caliber players.

Since, the group has dwindled to four.

The most recent attrition was sophomore Britto Tutt, who suffered a season-ending torn ACL on Wednesday after impressing with his length and showing potential as a junior college transfer.

Prior to that, senior DJ Dean, a backup after starting the last two years, pulled a hamstring that led to coach Bret Bielema floating the suggestion of redshirting this season to him. That doesn’t seem like a viable option anymore.

“It affects us,” Rhoads said of the injuries. “More in how you practice than how you can play if you keep everybody else healthy. We get DJ back, we’ll be feeling a lot better.”

Depth at the position went from a strength to a question mark in the span of a few days. The injuries are an unfortunate turn of events for a position that will constitute three of the defense’s players on the field when the Razorbacks use a field corner, boundary corner and nickelback in nickel looks. Those looks are becoming more common than base defenses with the way offenses are trending.

“We play three at a time most of the time in our nickel looks,” Rhoads said.

Junior Henre’ Toliver has worked with the first-team defense as the boundary corner during fall camp, with senior Jared Collins manning the field position across from him. Junior Kevin Richardson is the nickelback and can play outside. Sophomore Ryan Pulley has worked behind Toliver at boundary.

The coaching staff feels good about those four and could probably make it through games playing only four. But after them, it gets dicey.

Cornelius Floyd wasn’t in line for playing time heading into his junior year after appearing in one game last season. Now, the Hogs may need him to bolster depth. Same goes for redshirt freshman walk-on Byron Keaton.

“With some of the install today, he got a little more reps (and) showed he’s behind the other guys just because he hasn’t been out there as much,” Rhoads said. “That’ll come with reps.”

Discussion

Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.