Pulley turns in 'best game' following Ole Miss setback

By: Scottie Bordelon
Published: Monday, October 22, 2018
Ryan Pulley, Arkansas cornerback, intercepts a pass intended for Keylon Stokes, Tulsa receiver, in the 2nd quarter Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018, at Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
Ryan Pulley, Arkansas cornerback, intercepts a pass intended for Keylon Stokes, Tulsa receiver, in the 2nd quarter Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018, at Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas cornerback Ryan Pulley could have pouted in the days leading up to the Razorbacks’ Week 8 meeting with Tulsa.

Arkansas coach Chad Morris made it clear last week the defensive back would miss a bit of playing time for his ejection in the final minute of the Razorbacks’ 37-33 loss to Ole Miss in Little Rock.

Pulley could have done the same as he watched from the sideline as Arkansas’ defense took the field Saturday off sudden change following freshman Connor Noland’s interception on the offense’s first possession.

In all, Pulley missed the first eight plays against the Golden Hurricane. Instead of checking out mentally and emotionally as his streak of seven consecutive starts came to an end, the junior turned in his top performance of the season, according to Morris and defensive coordinator John Chavis.

“Ryan Pulley continues to have an outstanding year and it showed up again Saturday,” Morris added on Monday. “He played his best game.”

Pulley recorded his fifth pass breakup of the season and 20th of his Arkansas career in the second quarter. To close the first half, he tallied his third interception of the season, undercutting a badly underthrown deep ball from Tulsa quarterback Seth Boomer, who struggled mightily with accuracy throughout the Golden Hurricane’s first shutout since 2009.

Pulley’s three interceptions leads the Razorbacks’ defense and places him in a five-way tie for second-most in the Southeastern Conference behind only LSU’s Grant Delpit, who has five. Morris said he was pleased with Pulley’s response to the mini-suspension.

“I think that just watching Ryan and the way he practices and the way he goes out and approaches the game, his confidence level in himself, and you have to have that playing that position,” he said. “You’ve got to have a short memory and you’ve got to have a great confidence in your game. For him to continue to improve says a lot about his talent, his ability.

“He’s got a great future in this game.”

For his play against Tulsa, Pulley was named to the Pro Football Focus National Team of the Week on the defensive side of the ball after posting a grade of 90.3. He played 27 snaps in coverage, according to the analytics site, and was targeted seven times, allowing only two receptions for 12 yards – one after the catch.

Boomer recorded a passer rating of 0.0 when targeting Pulley’s receiver.

Chavis said Pulley’s response was just what he hoped to see out of his top playmaking defensive back. He added that the coaching staff continues to preach discipline and teach players the difference in right and wrong, and how their actions can impact the team.

“He served his penalty - and you hope you don't have those - but he served his penalty and he got ready to help his football team win,” Chavis said. “Obviously, the interception was big for us.

“I couldn't be more pleased with the way he played.”

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