Razorbacks report:

Receivers emerging for Kelley

By: Bob Holt , Tom Murphy
Published: Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Arkansas wide receiver Jordan Jones scores a touchdown against Alabama defensive back Trevon Diggs during the second half an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Arkansas wide receiver Jordan Jones scores a touchdown against Alabama defensive back Trevon Diggs during the second half an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

FAYETTEVILLE -- New receiving weapons are emerging for the Arkansas Razorbacks just in time to help quarterback Cole Kelley adjust to his starting role.

Brandon Martin, a 6-4, 219-pound sophomore who had been battling back and hamstring injuries throughout the first half of the season, broke out with four catches for 34 yards in Arkansas' 41-9 loss at No. 1 Alabama.

"It's definitely a confidence boost, because that's Alabama, the No. 1 team," Martin said. "I just showed my coaches and my teammates that they could trust me out on the field to make plays for them."

Jordan Jones caught his first touchdown a week ago at South Carolina, then added four catches for a team-high 72 yards and another score against the Crimson Tide. Jones' 3-yard touchdown catch on a high-velocity slant from Kelley came among three defenders, with linebacker Mack Wilson delivering a heavy blow.

"When a guy goes in traffic like that, it's always good to see," receivers coach Michael Smith said. "We want our guys to be fearless, and I don't know if he could've dropped it as hard as Cole threw it to him.

"I was excited for him. To score a touchdown against Alabama, I don't care what time of the game it is, it's something he'll have as a memory for the rest of his life."

Deon Stewart had a team-high six catches for 65 yards.

Offensive coordinator Dan Enos said Alabama did a good job covering leading receiver Jonathan Nance, who entered the game with a team-high 23 catches for 374 yards and 5 touchdowns but wound up with one catch against the Tide.

"He didn't get a lot of room," Enos said. "He let one ball go through his hands early in the game that he was targeted for a catch. But other than that, we weren't trying to not get him the ball, if you will. He just didn't create a lot of separation for himself at certain times and the other guys did."

Injury report

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville outside linebacker Randy Ramsey (ankle) had limited playing time last week but could have a larger role against Auburn.

Tight end Jeremy Patton, who missed last week's game with an ankle injury, has a better chance to play against the Tigers.

"I think we're on the right path there," tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr. said. "Nothing's guaranteed, but that was tough last week for him, to lose a guy midweek like that, after you'd kind of gotten knee deep in your plan a little bit. That's why you practice and have the other guys ready to go."

Left tackle Johnny Gibson said he's not 100 percent from the mild knee sprain he suffered two weeks ago, but he intends to keep plugging away.

For Auburn, RB JaTarvious Whitlow (ankle) and OL Casey Dunn (undisclosed) are not expected to play Saturday, while OL Mike Horton (ankle), LB Tre' Williams (shoulder) and DB Tray Matthews (hamstring) are questionable.

Running back Kamryn Pettway (foot) had four carries for 7 yards at LSU last week, but he missed two of the previous three games. Defensive back Javaris Davis, who had an interception return for a touchdown against Mississippi State, came out of last week's game but is expected to return vs. Arkansas. Linebackers Darrell Williams (hand) and Deshaun Davis (undisclosed) are also expected to play against the Hogs, as are defensive linemen Marlon Davidson and Derrick Brown, who have been nicked up.

Slick pick

Kevin Richardson's diving interception Saturday not only snapped Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts' streak of 208 consecutive passes without an interception, but it also came on a ball that Arkansas defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads deemed impossible to grab.

"The interception play he made was a big-time football play," Rhoads said, "because it was an un-pickable ball.

"The route was in the flat, and his job was to re-route a vertical route and then try to push it as flat as he can so the amount of yards gained is minimized. He shouldn't have been at an angle to be able to intercept that ball."

Hurts' throw to Cam Sims in the left flat was slightly underthrown, and Richardson reacted quickly and dove with full extension to pick off the pass.

"His effort and angle getting back, and then of course laying out horizontal to the ground to make a great catch, turned the body so the ball doesn't hit the ground," Rhoads said. "He plays with that kind of effort on the practice field, so on a play like that, the opportunity comes, he's prepared to make it. It's not a surprise to him."

Davis done

Auburn receiver Kyle Davis has been dismissed from the team for breaking team rules, Coach Gus Malzahn said at his Tuesday news conference. Davis did not travel with the Tigers for last week's 27-23 loss at LSU.

The sophomore had 7 catches for 210 yards, an average of 30 yards per catch, in 5 games. Davis also was suspended for the season opener for an undisclosed reason.

Agim tough

Arkansas defensive end McTelvin Agim left the Alabama game for a few minutes because some stitches on his leg came loose and caused him to start bleeding, Coach Bret Bielema said.

Bielema said Agim has been wearing the stitches for a few weeks after being cut in a previous game.

"Talked to him last week and it was about healed, and he just kind of rubbed it in the right spot on that field on Saturday," Bielema said. "The biggest thing they get concerned about it, obviously, is infection when you're exposed. They went in and cleaned it up."

Agim quickly returned against the Tide.

"I think it speaks volumes for him," Bielema said. "He knew exactly what he did. He just got up and started walking. He knew what he needed to do and how to get back out there. I can't say enough about that kid."

Rogers runs

Junior lineman Zach Rogers made his first career start Saturday after enduring a long wait for his first significant playing time.

"You get to this level of football, especially in the SEC West, everybody here's good, so you've just got to work, work, work," Rogers said. "And you're not really waiting, but you're trying as hard as you can to get out there. So when it finally comes, especially when it's taken this long, it's extremely rewarding."

Rogers started at center in the offensive line shakeup that sent preseason All-SEC center Frank Ragnow to right guard, Johnny Gibson to left tackle and brought back Brian Wallace at right tackle while keeping only left guard Hjalte Froholdt in place.

"I didn't play as good as I could have, but for a first game, I didn't think I did too bad," Rogers said. "It was a good day."

Fall break

The Razorbacks juggled their practice schedule this week, largely due to fall break. Arkansas normally takes Monday as its mandatory nonpractice day, but the Razorbacks this week made it Sunday, the day after falling 41-9 at No. 1 Alabama.

The Razorbacks also practiced earlier Tuesday, wrapping up around 4:15 p.m. as opposed to the normal end time around 6:30 p.m. Fall break ended Tuesday.

On the show

Freshman receiver Jordan Jones and freshman quarterback Cole Kelley will join the broadcast Thursday for the weekly "On the Air with Bret Bielema" show.

The show originates from the Catfish Hole restaurant in Fayetteville on Thursdays at 7 p.m.

Kelley made his first career start last week at Alabama and is expected to be under center Saturday against Auburn. Jones has caught touchdown passes in each of the past two games.

Sports on 10/18/2017

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