Razorback report: Slusher back on field with Hogs

By: Bob Holt Bob Holt's Twitter account , Tom Murphy
Published: Tuesday, September 20, 2022
Arkansas' Myles Slusher (2) calls fair catch on Saturday, April 16, 2022, at the Fred W. Smith Football Center in Fayetteville.
( David Beach )
Arkansas' Myles Slusher (2) calls fair catch on Saturday, April 16, 2022, at the Fred W. Smith Football Center in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — Junior defensive back Myles Slusher returned to practice Monday for the University of Arkansas for the first time since his scary collapse during the season-opener against Cincinnati on Sept. 3.

Slusher wore a green no-contact jersey as the No. 10 Razorbacks (3-0) worked inside Walker Pavilion on the first day of preparation for Saturday’s 6 p.m. game against No. 23 Texas A&M (2-1). The Aggies will be playing their SEC opener, while Arkansas is 1-0 in conference play following a 44-30 win over South Carolina in Week 2.

Slusher went down immediately after hammering 255-pound tight end Leonard Taylor in the second quarter of the Hogs’ 31-24 win. The 6-0, 194-pounder from Broken Arrow, Okla., looked groggy coming off the field.

Coach Sam Pittman has not been specific about Slusher’s injury, which appeared to be in the head and neck area after he rammed into Taylor for a 1-yard loss.

The Razorbacks have started Jayden Johnson at nickel back in Slusher’s absence and are considering bringing Slusher back at a safety spot in a secondary that has been hit with other injuries to Jalen Catalon, LaDarrius Bishop and others.

Pittman was asked how important Slusher’s return could be for the Hogs.

“I think huge,” he said. “Any time you get somebody back, it’s not just the guy you’re getting back, but then you take somebody off the field as well, you know what I mean? And so you get better both ways.

“Slush can play corner, he can play nickel, he can play field safety, like boundary safety. And then with him, it allows us to have another opportunity to make sure we have our five best players on the field. So I think it’s really big.”

Cornerback Dwight McGlothern, who missed part of Saturday’s 38-27 win over Missouri State with a hamstring issue, was at work with no apparent restrictions Monday.

Defensive end Jashaud Stewart, who did not dress out Saturday due to an undisclosed issue, also returned to practice.

Going inside

The Razorbacks worked in shells inside the Walker Pavilion with a twist on a 93-degree Monday in Northwest Arkansas.

School officials have brought in portable air conditioners in a couple of the large doors and added a sound system that takes the place of a mobile unit.

Coach Sam Pittman said after his Monday news conference there was no need to have the players outside in super-hot, cloudless conditions during a week the Razorbacks will wrap up by facing Texas A&M in a climate controlled environment at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Temperatures in Fayetteville are expected to be in the mid- to low-90s much of the week.

Reporters at Monday’s practice noted the temperature was a few degrees colder than normal in the facility and the humidity was lower than it typically is in the pavilion.

After the team stretch, the defensive line and specialists hustled to the outdoor practice fields due to space considerations and because the defensive line typically uses a hand-shiver station and other equipment that is outside.

Aggie personnel

Four Texas A&M freshmen suspended for the Miami game for violating team rules, including starting receiver Evan Stewart, have been reinstated to the roster this week.

Stewart had 10 catches for 105 yards in the Aggies’ first two games. Also reinstated are three backups: receiver Chris Marshall (4 catches for 41 yards) and defensive backs Denver Harris (5 tackles) and Smoke Bouie.

Aggies defensive backs Demani Richardson and Brian George were ejected for targeting in the first half against Miami, so both can play from the start of the Arkansas game after sitting out the second half last week.

Tube talk

The Alabama at Arkansas game on Oct. 1 is slated for a 2:30 p.m. start, and it will be broadcast on CBS.

The Crimson Tide has won 15 consecutive games in the series, overlapping with Coach Nick Saban’s arrival in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

3-0 stats

Arkansas improved to 3-0 for the second consecutive year under third-year Coach Sam Pittman. It is the first back-to-back 3-0 starts since Bobby Petrino led the Razorbacks in 2010-11. Each of those 3-0 beginnings ended with a loss to a top-five Alabama team.

Arkansas is 3-0 for the 10th time in 31 years since joining the SEC in 1992, achieving that feat in 1995 under Danny Ford, in 1998, 2000 and 2003 under Houston Nutt, in 2010-11 under Petrino, in 2013 and 2016 under Brett Bielema and twice under Pittman.

The Razorbacks have opened 4-0 three times as an SEC member, in 1998 (8-0), 2003 (4-0) and 2021 (4-0).

4 in a row

Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson has a rushing touchdown in four games in a row dating to last season’s 24-10 win over Penn State in the Outback Bowl.

Jefferson has rushing scores of 15 yards against Cincinnati, 2 yards against South Carolina and 1 yard against Missouri State this season.

More on KJ

KJ Jefferson moved up to second in the country and 18th in the FBS with a passer efficiency rating of 176.25.

Georgia’s Stetson Bennett leads the SEC with a 183.48 rating. The pass efficiency formula goes heavy on completion percentage, touchdown-to-interception ratio and yards per pass attempt.

Jefferson is completing 70.5% of his passes (55 of 78) for 770 yards, has a 6-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio and is averaging 9.9 yards per pass attempt.

Jefferson’s lone interception of the season popped out of tight end Trey Knox’s hands into the arms of diving cornerback Caleb Blake on the opening possession of the second half Saturday against Missouri State.

The only SEC regulars who have yet to throw an interception are Bennett (on 88 attempts), Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker (85) and LSU’s Jayden Daniels (82).

Pool shot

Senior linebacker Bumper Pool moved up to fourth on the UA tackle charts with nine stops against Missouri State.

Pool now has 378 tackles, three behind third place Ken Hamlin (381 in 2000-2002). Pool surpassed Sam Olajubutu (372, 2003-06) and De’Jon Harris (371, 2016-19) on Saturday.

Arkansas’ career tackle leader Tony Bua had 408 stops from 2000-03. Jerry Franklin ranks second with 382 tackles between 2008-11.

Skipper love

Former Razorback offensive lineman Dan Skipper became a Twitter sensation Sunday after making his first NFL start and helping the Detroit Lions beat Washington 36-27.

Skipper, who played at Arkansas from 2013-16, came off the Lions’ practice squad after the line was hit by injuries and started at guard.

Video of Detroit Coach Dan Campbell praising Skipper and his teammates chanting “Skip! Skip!” in the locker room went viral on social media.

“Well, I love Dan Skipper,” said Sam Pittman, Arkansas’ offensive line coach from 2013-15. “Him and about everybody I’ve ever coached. Danny called me last week … and said he was going to get his first start.

“He was very complimentary of me, like I had one thing to do with that, which I did not. He did all that. But then that video, Coach Campbell doing that, that was awesome.”

Pittman said he talked with Skipper after the game and also traded texts with Campbell.

Bears drop

Despite Missouri State leading at Arkansas in the fourth quarter before the Razorbacks rallied for a 38-27 victory, the Bears dropped from No. 5 to No. 6 in the FCS poll Monday.

Incarnate Word moved ahead of Missouri State and into a tie at No. 4 with Montana State after beating Prairie View A&M 31-14. The Cardinals opened the season by beating FBS member Nevada 55-41, and then pounded Southern Illinois 64-29, which takes on added significance after the Salukis beat Northwestern 31-24 last week.

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