Razorback Report: 'Nudie' making plays

Arkansas cornerback Dwight McGlothern (3) celebrates after intercepting a pass during a game against South Carolina on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — Dwight McGlothern made a big rise in training camp from taking reps with the third team to starting the season opener at cornerback for the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Now the transfer from LSU is riding a two-game streak of intercepting passes as the No. 10 University of Arkansas prepares to face pass-heavy Missouri State on Saturday.

McGlothern was known to have the talent to start and excel, but he was originally slowed by a leg injury in camp before working his way up to team with cornerback Hudson Clark in the starting lineup.

The 6-2, 181-pounder from Houston had a huge interception, undercutting an out route to halt Cincinnati’s opening drive, a march that had reached the Arkansas 26, in the season opener. Last week, the player his teammates call “Nudie” was in the front middle of the end zone to intercept Spencer Rattler as South Carolina was furiously trying to get back in the game in the fourth quarter of a 44-30 loss to the Razorbacks.

“He’s really confident,” Coach Sam Pittman said Wednesday. “I think that’s the first thing a corner has to be. But he sees routes well. He obviously does a lot of film study before each game.

“He understands who his opponent is, who he’s playing against. He gets some tips off that and things of that nature.

“It’s one thing to break in front of a ball, and another thing to catch it, you know? And he has very good ball skills. So he gives himself an opportunity to pick ’em. But he’s long, and he’s probably the prototype corner.”

Injury report

Sam Pittman said Wednesday he felt good about the availability of the team’s No. 7s on both sides of the ball — tight end Trey Knox and safety Latavious Brini — but he was uncertain on the status of a few others.

Knox and Brini were both slowed by ankle problems during last week’s 44-30 win over South Carolina. Nickel back Myles Slusher had not practiced as of Tuesday after the huge hit that left him down on the field vs. Cincinnati in the opener, so his status is questionable.

Tailback Dominique Johnson is a “maybe” for the Missouri State game, though he’s been cleared after rehabbing from knee surgery. Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman said freshman receiver and return man Isaiah Sategna rolled an ankle Tuesday and is also questionable.

“I feel strong about Brini and Knox,” Pittman said. “Slush is still up in the air. So we’ll see if he’ll be available. He hasn’t done any practicing, so there’s a chance he’ll be available, but we’ll have to see. It’s a day-by-day deal.”

Pittman added Johnson’s return is largely dependent on when the big back feels ready.

“If yesterday was any indication, I would say he would play Saturday, but it’s still up to him how he feels,” he said.

Returning chances

Missouri State kicker Jose Pizano has had one touchback on 12 kickoffs this season, so the seldom-enacted Arkansas kickoff return unit might get more chances this week.

Lead kickoff return man AJ Green has only one return thus far, a 16-yarder from the end zone that got moved back to the Arkansas 8 due to a holding penalty against Cincinnati. Other than that, it’s been a lot of touchbacks for opposing kickoff men and a fair catch last week by Harper Cole.

Asked if the Razorbacks were preparing to mobilize their kick return blocking more this week, Coach Sam Pittman replied, “Well, that’s the plan. … We work every week, but this week you’re thinking there’s more of a chance that we might be able to return, depending on what they do. Whether they sky it or whether they kick it to us.

“I think we’re a good kickoff return team as long as we stay away from the penalties. That’s what has hurt us in live special teams reps. So, we’ve made a big deal out of it. It’ll help us Saturday. … But this is a week we’re rounding up our kickoff return game.”

Sam’s choices

Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman, one of the 66 coaches who vote in the USA Today coaches poll, said he “doesn’t particularly enjoy” having to do it but takes the task seriously.

“I know that it needs to be done and have been asked to do it, so I certainly know it’s a responsibility and I take it very seriously,” Pittman said on the SEC coaches teleconference Wednesday.

Pittman said he has someone who helps him look over the previous week’s results and formulate a top 25 and that he looks over the final results and makes necessary changes.

Half a mil

Missouri State, which has faced an FBS opponent for 32 consecutive years entering Saturday, will take on Arkansas for the eighth time. The schools have another meeting scheduled for the 2025 season opener.

Missouri State will receive nearly half a million dollars, $450,000, as a guarantee for Saturday’s game.

FBS slump

Missouri State has a win over an FBS opponent, but it was a long time ago.

The Bears downed UNLV 31-24 on Sept. 1, 199,0 in their second game against a major college team. Since then, Missouri State has gone 0-37 against FBS foes, all on the road.

The most common opponents for the school based in Springfield, Mo., are regional opponents in Oklahoma State (9 meetings), Arkansas (7), Tulsa (7) and Kansas State (4).

Penalties aplenty

Arkansas and Missouri State are two of the most-penalized teams in the nation in their respective divisions.

The Razorbacks have 17 penalties for 185 yards to rank 126th among the 131 FBS teams with 92.5 yards per game and 111th with 8.5 penalties per game.

Missouri State has 16 penalties for 182 yards to rank 102nd among the 115 FCS teams with 91 yards per game and 79th with 8 penalties per game.

Missouri State Coach Bobby Petrino took exception to a pair of 15-yard infractions last week: A roughing the kicker call on a fourth and long against his punt block team and an unsportsmanlike conduct against wideout Ty Scott, who was gesturing to the home crowd after his touchdown, not trying to show up Tennessee-Martin, Petrino said.

Pool play

Arkansas linebacker Bumper Pool has 20 tackles on the season, giving him 369 for his career to reach sixth on the UA all-time chart. He passed Caleb Miller (368, 2000-03) and Cliff Powell (367, 1967-69) last week.

The fifth-year senior from Lovejoy, Texas, has De’Jon “Scoota” Harris (371, 2016-19) and Sam Olajubutu (372, 2003-06) in his immediate sights.

The Hogs’ top three tacklers are Tony Bua (408, 2000-03), Jerry Franklin (382, 2008-11) and Ken Hamlin (381, 2000-02).

Inside the series

Arkansas is 7-0 against Missouri State, with all the games being played in Arkansas, five in Fayetteville and two in Little Rock.

The last meeting was a 51-7 rout on Sept 3, 2011, with Bobby Petrino at the Arkansas helm. The first meeting occurred 100 years earlier and resulted in a 100-0 victory on Sept. 30, 1911.

The Razorbacks have posted three shutouts in the series, the last by a 38-0 count at Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium on Sept. 2, 2000.

The total combined score in the series is 345-40 for an average of 49-6.