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.
Coaches know Friday's game is likely last at UA
Arkansas interim head coach Barry Lunney Jr. is shown during a game against LSU on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, in Baton Rouge, La.
FAYETTEVILLE -- University of Arkansas interim Coach Barry Lunney Jr. and his assistants know this is the last game most, if not all, of them will be working at the UA as the Razorbacks prepare for Friday's season finale against Missouri in Little Rock.
Whoever is hired as Arkansas' new coach might retain a few assistants -- Chad Morris kept Lunney and John Scott when he replaced Bret Bielema after the 2017 season -- but there is certain change ahead.
"The likelihood is about zero that we'll be intact and be working together," Lunney said at his Monday news conference. "We all understand that's part of the profession."
Lunney said the key for the Arkansas coaches is to do the best they can for the players.
"That's why we got into coaching," he said. "You don't get into coaching to strut around on the sideline and say we won the game. You get into coaching to pour yourself into the life of the guys you're coaching to give them the moments that you had as a player. To give them the opportunities to experience success that you had. Or, you give them the opportunities to advance and persevere through disappointments like we have as players.
"So I think you just have to look at yourself in the mirror and say, 'Well, I've got five days left. I may or may not be employed here in five or six days or two weeks or whatever. But really, at the end of the day, I got into this for these players and so I owe it to them to give my very best to give them the opportunity to win this football game on Friday afternoon.' "
Missouri quarterback Kelly Bryant -- who suffered a hamstring injury during a 29-7 loss at Kentucky on Oct. 26 that caused him to miss the next game, a 27-0 loss at No. 6 Georgia -- also is dealing with a knee injury.
Offensive coordinator Derek Dooley told reporters Monday that Bryant had fluid drained from his knee before the Tigers lost to Tennessee 24-20 on Saturday.
Bryant started against the Vols and completed 16 of 28 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown, and he rushed 10 times for 18 yards.
"He hasn't been 100% since the second drive at Kentucky," Dooley said. "That's not an excuse.
"He's got an incredible amount of will and fight. It's hard to even know if he's hurting. There's probably not many guys who [would] be playing."
LSU safety JaCoby Stevens was named SEC defensive player of the week Monday after a big game against the Razorbacks on Saturday.
Stevens notched three sacks for 26 yards in losses and had eight tackles in the No. 1 Tigers' 56-20 victory over Arkansas at Tiger Stadium. Stevens also batted a pass from KJ Jefferson that the quarterback caught on the rebound and tackled him for an 8-yard loss.
Grab a poncho
The Monday forecast for game day Friday in Little Rock calls for a 70% chance of rain.
"Seventy percent chance of rain, that means 30% chance of sun," Barry Lunney said. "That's what I'm going for.
"Hey, grab a poncho. They're pretty cheap. Let's get a poncho, let's get in there and let's roll. That's what I would say."
Pups to men
Arkansas started six true freshmen against LSU with quarterback KJ Jefferson, receivers Treylon Burks and Trey Knox, guard Ricky Stromberg, defensive end Mataio Soli and nickel back Greg Brooks. Redshirt freshman cornerback LaDarrius Bishop also started.
"For that experience, they'll draw on that," Coach Barry Lunney said Saturday. "The next time [Arkansas plays at LSU] in two years, there'll be some grown men coming down here and not pups."
A combined 21 true and redshirt freshmen played for Arkansas at LSU.
"We've got a lot of them that played that'll bite you," Lunney said. "If they'll bite you when they're young, they'll bite you even harder when they mature."
Nance a Tiger
For the second time in three games, the Razorbacks will face a former teammate.
Two weeks ago it was Western Kentucky quarterback Ty Storey. On Friday, it will be Missouri receiver Jonathan Nance.
As a junior at Arkansas in 2017, Nance had 37 receptions for a team-high 539 yards and 5 touchdowns. Last season, through four games, he had one catch for minus-2 yards.
Nance then left the team so he could redshirt and went to Missouri as a graduate transfer. This season he has 28 catches for a team-high 420 yards and 3 touchdowns.
"Jon did some good things for us," Barry Lunney said. "A good player, no doubt. I know he's done some really good things for Missouri.
"We wish him the best and have always been rooting for him except when we play against him."
The Razorbacks hope Nance doesn't do as well against them as Storey, who started nine games for Arkansas last year before transferring as a graduate.
Storey completed 22 of 32 passes for 213 yards and a touchdown, and he rushed 17 times for 77 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Hilltoppers' 45-19 victory.
White catches on
John David White, a freshman walk-on receiver from Pulaski Academy, made his first two career catches for 27 yards at LSU on Saturday.
"Man, I couldn't be prouder of John David White," Coach Barry Lunney said. "He epitomizes what it means to have Razorback spirit and legacy, and we can't get enough of guys like that."
White's father, David, played golf at Arkansas, and his great-grandfather, Harold "Greasy" Rees, played football for the Razorbacks, as did his grandfather, John Rees, and his uncle, John Aaron Rees.
Monday was Tuesday
The Razorbacks started practice at 8 p.m. Monday, about four hours later than usual.
Coach Barry Lunney said the schedule change was to give the staff more time to put together a game plan during a short week. He said with the game being one day earlier than normal, it meant Monday was like Tuesday from a practice standpoint.
"It's the introduction of the game plan and the general schemes that we anticipate using," Lunney said. "So we bought ourselves about three or four more hours of prep time to make sure that when we get out there and start preparing and talk to our players about how we're going to attack them this week, that it's not 50 percent done, it's not 70 percent done, it's 100% done for the base game plan."
Lunney said Wednesday's practice will be held earlier than usual to allow players who aren't part of the travel squad time to go home and spend Thanksgiving with their families.
Junior quarterback Jack Lindsey and sophomore deep snapper Jordan Silver will join interim Coach Barry Lunney Jr. on the finale of the weekly radio show On the Air with Barry Lunney Jr. tonight.
The one-hour show, which will air at 7 p.m. from the Catfish Hole, was moved to Tuesday night this week to accommodate the team's Thanksgiving week schedule.
Lindsey, a Fayetteville native and legacy Razorback as the son of Lyndey Lindsey and grandson of Jim Lindsey, completed 3 of 4 passes for 51 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown pass to Mike Woods, and ran for 30 yards in his first career action last week at No. 1 LSU.
Silver, a native of Branson, Mo., and a two-year starter, has played 92 snaps this season with a grade of 77.6 from Pro Football Focus and a fumble recovery.
Sports on 11/26/2019
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