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. Murphy was the 2017 Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year.
Injured Hogs limited, but practicing
Mike Woods, Arkansas wide receiver, Saturday, March 3, 2018, during Arkansas football spring practice at the Fred W. Smith Football Center in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE Linebacker Dre Greenlaw, defensive end Dorian Gerald, running back Chase Hayden, and receivers Deon Stewart and Mike Woods were among the players in green (limited contact) jerseys at Tuesday’s practice.
Greenlaw, Gerald and Woods all have ankle injuries, while the current ailments for Hayden and Stewart have not been mentioned by Coach Chad Morris.
Also in green was defensive back Kevin Richardson, whose return from July foot surgery is nearing.
Receiver and kick returner De’Vion Warren, who missed the loss to North Texas with a lower leg injury, practiced on Sunday night, Morris said, but he was not visible in the open portion of practice Tuesday.
Cornerbacks Chevin Calloway and Britto Tutt were not seen during the first four periods of practice. Calloway is dealing with personal issues, per Morris, and Tutt was seen riding the stationary bike Saturday after starting opposite Ryan Pulley.
Defensive end Randy Ramsey had three quarterback hurries and a tackle in limited duty in the 44-17 loss to North Texas, his first action of the season after a hamstring sidelined him in camp.
“This is my last year and to miss the first two, man that hurt my heart,” Ramsey said. “But you’ve just got to look at the positives. We’ve got a lot of SEC ball left.”
Ramsey said Saturday’s loss was an embarrassment.
“Sick to our stomach to lose like that,” Ramsey said. “But we’ve just got to leave it in the past and keep working and trust the process.”
Ramsey said he expected his playing time to increase Saturday at Auburn, which he hopes will help productivity for others.
“Guys just tell me they feel like they can freestyle more, with having the tackle rush upfield, they feel like they can have more one-on-one chances with the guard,” Ramsey said. “So they feel like I open up the pocket with my presence, with my speed.”
Junior Colton Jackson was working with the first unit Tuesday, perhaps signaling he’s headed for his first start after recovering from back surgery in July. Jackson, a 10-game starter last year, missed the first two games and got 23 snaps last week.
“It felt good,” Jackson said. “It’s a release finally getting back out there playing with my boys.”
Jackson said he felt his back hurting in early July and stayed off it for three weeks before undergoing surgery. At first he was slated to miss half the season.
“I did not want to take a medical redshirt,” Jackson said.
He said staying consistent with the process and trusting head athletic trainer Dave Polanski was the key to returning quicker than expected.
“Coming in like three times a day, working on just getting that core strength that supports your spine and all that stuff.”
True freshman Noah Gatlin drew praise for his handling of left tackle in the absence of Jackson and first-game starter Shane Clenin, who has worked more at center since returning from an ankle injury.
“I think he’s done good,” Jackson said. “I was just talking to him every week on what to expect, how things are going to go during the game and all that stuff, mentoring him. He’s done a great job.”
Senior Hjalte Froholdt worked at center during the early team period, but swapped places with left guard Ty Clary for some positional work.
Woods is well
Freshman receiver Mike Woods said he was feeling good after needing medical attention late in the loss to North Texas. Woods bent back on himself trying to plant and reverse field on a ball thrown behind him.
He wore a green jersey Tuesday.
“I’m doing good,” he said. “I felt pretty good today. I didn’t feel it at all really.”
Woods added he is on the travel roster to Auburn for Saturday.
QBs vs. Auburn
Ty Storey, named the starting quarterback for Saturday’s game at Auburn, was not made available for media interviews Tuesday.
It will not be Storey’s first playing time at Auburn. As a redshirt freshman in 2016, Storey went 1 of 3 for 3 yards in a 56-3 loss at Auburn after replacing Austin Allen, who came out with a knee sprain.
Arkansas quarterback Cole Kelley completed 15 of 26 passes for 163 yards, with no touchdowns or interceptions while going the distance as a redshirt freshman in Arkansas’ 52-20 home loss to Auburn last season. Arkansas’ touchdowns came on De’Vion Warren’s 100-yard kickoff return and on Devwah Whaley’s 2-yard run.
Chad Morris said cutting the roster to 70 for the first time this season is going to be difficult. The Razorbacks traveled with 85 to Colorado State and could have unlimited numbers for its nonconference home games.
Morris said the composition of the roster “is kind of a sliding scale,” and a lot of it depends on practice developments this week.
“Usually, you like to travel four running backs and as many as eight wide receivers. Seven to eight,” Morris said. “More so on your defensive and offensive fronts is what you try to put a majority of your numbers in. You limit some of the guys that all they’ve done is just play special teams and only been on one or two of those teams. So those guys will not travel. It does present a challenge.”
Arkansas offensive coordinator Joe Craddock said Auburn plays a lot of man coverage.
“They get their hands on receivers and they do a good job re-routing you,” Craddock said. “We have to do a good job of hand-fighting and hand combat. You have to get their hands off of you and create separation versus man.”
Freshman receiver Mike Woods called the Tigers’ defensive backs physical.
“They’re hands on, and we’re going to work on that all week and just go out there and play football,” Woods said.
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