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.
Agim to be full go for Hogs
Arkansas vs Portland State Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, at Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE -- The Arkansas Razorbacks should get back several key players in preparation for Saturday's 6:30 p.m. game at Kentucky.
Receivers Trey Knox, De'Vion Warren, Mike Woods and Jordan Jones are among the players who have missed games or been dinged up the last few weeks but might be ready to contribute as the Razorbacks face their first SEC East team of the season.
Additionally, defensive tackle McTelvin Agim and defensive end Zach Williams, who have both had knee issues, are practicing and expected to be available as the Razorbacks return from an open week.
"We had very few guys in yellow jerseys in yesterday's practice," Coach Chad Morris said at his weekly press conference on Monday. "We had a few in green who are transitioning into a normal jersey this week at some point."
Agim tweaked a knee last two weeks ago against Texas A&M and played through it, but he was given off time last week to rest and rehab. Williams has missed the last two games with a knee problem, but he practiced in a green (no-contact) jersey during the open date. Williams had 6 tackles in three games before being injured in a loss to San Jose State.
"Zach was starting to really, really blossom," Arkansas defensive coordinator John Chavis said.
Agim, who tweaked a knee two weeks ago, worked in a regular practice jersey on Sunday.
"I anticipate him being full go," Morris said. "I think where he is and how well he's playing right now, it would take something really substantial to keep him out of a game. So I'm excited about him and watching him grow and continuing to improve."
Center Ty Clary was in concussion protocol early last week, so he's had a week to pass the protocol.
"We anticipate Ty being back tomorrow at practice," Morris said. "We'll see. Same way with Colton Jackson. We'll see on both of those guys ... but we anticipate those guys being back."
Jackson, who has been given rest time for a foot injury all season, returned from concussion protocol to play against Texas A&M.
Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops said he anticipates Sawyer Smith starting at quarterback against Arkansas.
Smith, who has started all three of the Wildcats' SEC games after Terry Wilson suffered a season-ending knee injury against Eastern Michigan, didn't finish Kentucky's 24-7 loss at South Carolina after aggravating a lower leg injury.
Kentucky had an open date last week.
"He took a solid week off, and he needed that," Stoops said at his weekly press conference on Monday. "The word I got from our trainer here this morning was that he feels significantly better.
"So that will be the plan [for Smith to start]. We'll see. I'm not trying to withhold any information on you guys. It just is what it is.
"He's banged up, you guys know that. You know the other options that we have been working, but we'll proceed with Sawyer, and anticipate him being the starting quarterback and being able to play this week."
Morris & Stoops
Arkansas' Chad Morris and Kentucky's Mark Stoops will meet for the first time as head coaches on Saturday, but they faced each other twice as coordinators in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Morris was Clemson's offensive coordinator and Stoops was Florida State's defensive coordinator when the Tigers and Seminoles split two games in 2011 and 2012, with each team winning at home.
"They were both battles all the way to the end, and two really good football teams going at each other," Morris said. "He's a great ball coach, I know that. I have great respect for him."
The No. 21 Tigers beat the No. 11 Seminoles 35-30 in 2011, then No. 4 FSU beat No. 10 Clemson 49-37 in 2012.
The Razorbacks will host Auburn at 11 a.m. on Oct. 19, the SEC office announced Monday.
Arkansas' second 11 a.m. kickoff this season will be broadcast on the SEC Network.
Auburn fell five spots to No. 12 after losing 24-10 at No. 10 Florida last week.
One yard short
Arkansas is playing at Kentucky for the first time since Oct. 18, 2008 when the Wildcats rallied to win 21-20 in Coach Bobby Petrino's first season.
Five weeks earlier, Joe Craddock nearly beat the Wildcats on a Hail Mary pass as a senior quarterback at Middle Tennessee State.
On the game's final play, Craddock -- now Arkansas' offensive coordinator -- completed what an Associated Press story called "a desperation heave" to Eldred King for a 61-yard gain before he was tackled by Robbie McAtee at the Kentucky 1 as the Wildcats held on to win 20-14.
Craddock completed 21 of 37 passes for 355 yards and 2 touchdowns in that game.
Mark Stoops is in his seventh season at Kentucky, but Saturday's game will be the first time he's played Arkansas.
"Yeah, it is very different and unique," Stoops said. "I don't know what happened.
"I think the only team in the West we've played twice since I've been here was Alabama. But we've never played Arkansas, so this will be the first time and so there is no familiarity.
"But it is what it is. We do that all the time. We play teams that we're not familiar with and maybe haven't played, whether it's out of conference or any of that, but it is new."
True freshman quarterback KJ Jefferson hasn't played in any games and the plan is for him to redshirt, but Coach Chad Morris said he's getting good work.
"K.J.'s doing a lot of scout-team work," Morris said. "He's traveling with us for the majority of the time, sitting in our quarterback meetings. He's able to get some valuable scout team reps, which is good for him, and he's taken on that role."
In accordance with NCAA rules, Jefferson can play up to four games and retain his redshirt.
"I was really excited about getting to work with him a little bit more," offensive coordinator Joe Craddock said of last week's open date. "Obviously, not trying to get ready for a game you can spend a little more time with him.
"Even [Sunday] night we were spending some time, so I thought he did take a big step last week honestly getting some reps in [drills], getting some reps in team. He did some really good things with his legs as well as sitting in the pocket and throwing the ball, so he's just got to continue to learn mentally.
"He's a very sharp, smart kid. It's just about doing it. He's got to know it in the meeting room and take it out on the practice field and go do it and go execute it. So he's getting closer with that. I felt last week was a really big step up for him. He had a good week."
Sports on 10/08/2019
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