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.
Lunney working on energy
Arkansas tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr. throws a football during warmups prior to the Razorbacks' game against LSU on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018, in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE -- The Arkansas Razorbacks worked out inside Walker Pavilion in shoulder pads and shorts again on Thursday, even though the sun was out and the temperature was comfortable at around 50 degrees.
"I like it inside," interim Coach Barry Lunney Jr. said. "It's just a change-up. It's not like the weather's bad. It's nice. I'm sure it's probably going to be fairly warm in Baton Rouge, so I don't anticipate it being cold down there. If I thought it would be I'd probably be outside getting used to it."
Lunney said creating energy as a team was one of the goals of the open week, so the Razorbacks worked out without music again.
"Eliminated the music, which is just a small, petty thing," Lunney said. "But it was good yesterday. I liked it. I liked the communication. I liked the noise that just coaching chatter and communicating during the game created during practice so we're just going to do it again today."
Lunney re-iterated the sole focus this week was trying to build toward the best performance of the season next week at current No. 1 LSU. The Tigers play at Ole Miss on Saturday.
The University of Arkansas has started injecting some of its LSU game plan this week.
"We're emphasizing introduction to LSU," Lunney said. "And we're also emphasizing going good versus good to get speed. And that will be a bigger emphasis for us next week in game week to do more good versus good simulating the looks we'll see at LSU."
Linebacker Bumper Pool was not visible for Thursday's practice, the day after wearing a yellow (non-participation) jersey.
"I think he'll be fine," Barry Lunney Jr. said. "The open date will do him well.
"He's just nursing a little bit of a regular muscle injury. We thought it was wise for him to rest and recover this week."
Barry Lunney Sr. observed practice for the second consecutive day Thursday. The father of interim Arkansas Coach Barry Lunney Jr., he led Fort Smith Southside and Bentonville to eight championships during his coaching tenure.
Lunney Jr. said offensive lineman Kirby Adcock, who has missed the last two games due to concussion protocol, is questionable for next week's game at LSU. Adcock came out late in the Razorbacks' 48-7 loss at No. 1 Alabama on Oct. 26.
Linebacker Deon Edwards appeared to suffer a minor injury during the open portion of practice Thursday. Edwards was doing rehab work on the sideline.
Freshman KJ Jefferson and senior Ben Hicks took the first snaps in an individual period throwing to tight ends and backs on Thursday, with junior Nick Starkel and freshman John Stephen Jones taking the next snaps.
Barry Lunney Jr. said he detected a renewed sense of energy from the Razorbacks during his first couple of practice days in the interim coaching role, but he added there were several factors that probably contributed to that.
"We've also had a few days off, and it's a bye week, and we're practicing a little bit shorter," he said. "So some of those things are going to happen naturally. The real tell and the real test will be when we get in the game next week on Saturday."
Former Arkansas Coach Houston Nutt, speaking on KABZ-FM, 103.7, The Buzz, said he would be interested in a return as the top Hog under the right circumstances if Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek was interested.
"I can go on and on about the players who have reached out and said, 'Come on coach, come back and let's get this thing going again,'" Nutt said on the show.
"I'd like to, I would, but I'd only want to come back if they want me, if the athletic director and the state wants me. It'd have to be that togetherness."
Nutt led the Razorbacks to a 75-48 record, three SEC West titles and two SEC Championship Game appearances in 10 seasons. He has been out of the coaching ranks since a four-year stint at Ole Miss from 2008-11.
"This is a crossroads," Nutt said on the show. "This is a big-time decision for the University of Arkansas. This has got to be the right fit.
"You can't just say, 'Oh, this is Chad Morris' fault,' because I saw it back in 2010, 2011, 2012. I saw recruiting going down. I saw it getting slower, and recruiting is the lifeline as you all know.
"So yeah, I'd love to come back, but again, it has to be right, and everybody has to be together, and it's not easy. Because you are in the toughest conference in America."
A Razorbacks fan named Jon Berry started an online petition at the website "Change.org" asking for the re-hiring of former Arkansas Coach Bobby Petrino.
The petition, started before the firing of Coach Chad Morris on Sunday, had been signed by 11,701 supporters by 5 p.m. Thursday.
Petrino led the Razorbacks to a 34-17 record in four seasons, including a berth in the 2011 Sugar Bowl, the program's only Bowl Championship Series appearance, and an 11-2 season and a Cotton Bowl victory after the 2011 season.
Petrino was fired for cause on April 10, 2012, by then-Athletic Director Jeff Long after improperly hiring his mistress to work in the football program and providing her money. Petrino's motorcycle wreck with the woman aboard on April 1 touched off the internal investigation that led to his firing.
UA Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek said Monday that the search he conducted for men's basketball that yielded the hiring of Eric Musselman did him good in terms of seeing how Arkansas athletics is viewed around the country.
"That search was a great learning experience for me," Yurachek said. "Very early in my tenure, a little bit over a year, it helped me learn what people outside of Fayetteville think about the University of Arkansas and how positively people think of this institution and this state and what what this athletic program, at that time what our men's basketball program, and football program should be. And so that was a great learning experience for me to go through that and to see on a national level the perception of the University of Arkansas and the athletic program."
Sports on 11/15/2019
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