Hogs suspend 2 players seen socializing with opponent's spirit squad; 'completely unacceptable,' Morris says

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Arkansas cornerback Ryan Pulley is shown during a game against Mississippi State on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, in Starkville, Miss.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas cornerback Ryan Pulley is shown during a game against Mississippi State on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, in Starkville, Miss.

FAYETTEVILLE -- University of Arkansas Coach Chad Morris announced Monday he has suspended starting defensive backs Ryan Pulley and Kamren Curl for the season-ending game at Missouri on Friday.

Pulley and Curl were seen socializing with members of the Mississippi State spirit squad prior to the Razorbacks' 52-6 loss Saturday, and Morris called their actions "unacceptable" when he was informed during his postgame remarks in Starkville, Miss.

"They will not be here today or yesterday or any part of this week for unacceptable behavior, for actions that are completely unacceptable with what we're about," Morris said Monday.

Morris later added that Pulley and Curl were "not in the building," but he would not speculate beyond that.

When asked whether they would return to the program, Morris said, "They're out this week. We'll discuss that next week."

The Razorbacks fell to 2-9 overall, 0-7 in the SEC with the loss, in which they were outscored 35-3 in the second half. Arkansas has never lost 10 games in a season.

Morris has been fuming since the loss.

"As I shared on Saturday, losing will never be accepted in this program," Morris said at his weekly news conference. "It was completely unacceptable Saturday, and it's still completely unacceptable today."

Pulley already has missed two starts this year.

The junior was disciplined after his ejection for unsportsmanlike conduct in the closing seconds of the Razorbacks' 37-33 loss to Ole Miss in Little Rock. He was held out the first full defensive series plus one play the next week in Arkansas' 23-0 victory over Tulsa. Then he was held out for the first series of the Razorbacks' 45-31 home loss to Vanderbilt for a violation of team rules.

The 5-11, 198-pounder from Fort Myers, Fla., has been viewed as a player who would consider declaring early for the NFL Draft, but he has not given any indication which way he is leaning.

Pulley has 37 tackles to rank seventh on the team, and he leads the Razorbacks with 3 interceptions and 7 pass breakups.

Curl, the sophomore strong safety who moved over from cornerback this year, ranks fourth on the team with 53 tackles and also has 5 pass breakups, a forced fumble and a quarterback hurry.

Arkansas defensive coordinator John Chavis said he was very disappointed in the two players.

"Listen, when you start looking at it, it's about perception, and even though that was not acceptable, it's really perception," Chavis said. "Here we are fighting to develop the kind of culture where you're going to have a winning attitude by every guy that walks on that field -- and again, I'm not questioning their character -- but the perception was not very good, and it had to be addressed and our head coach has handled that. I'm with him 100 percent."

Chavis said freshmen Joe Foucha and Myles Mason would see their playing time increase because of Curl's absence.

"We haven't made all the decisions at corner," Chavis added. "But we'll have four corners and four safeties we're going to go into the game with and try to keep them fresh, and get them ready to compete."

Morris said junior Britto Tutt "did some good things when he got in there" late in the Mississippi State game. Redshirt freshman Montaric Brown started the games opposite freshman Jarques McClellion, who has eight starts, when Pulley was doing disciplinary time.

Morris had strong words for the coaching, playing and effort Saturday.

"I wasn't happy with anybody," Morris said.

He was asked Monday whether he anticipated making any coaching changes at season's end.

"No, no," he said. "We've all got to get better. Everybody's got to get better."

Morris said he didn't anticipate any other personnel moves based on the Mississippi State game, and he praised a handful of players.

"There were some bright spots," Morris said. "I thought Dorian Gerald played well. It was great to see La'Michael Pettway make a 50/50 ... catch. Mike Woods continues to play well. Rakeem Boyd. I don't anticipate roster moves outside of what we already discussed."

Offensive coordinator Joe Craddock, who has been with Morris since 2013 at Clemson, was asked whether he had ever seen Morris this miffed.

"I know Coach is upset," Craddock said. "He wants to get this program right. He's told us that everybody in the state deserves more. Our university deserves more, and that's why we're working tirelessly to get this thing the right way, getting it right the way we want to get it."

Sports on 11/20/2018

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