HOGS count on young reserves; notes
FAYETTEVILLE - Because of injuries to those listed ahead of them, reserves D’Vone “Pluck” McClure and LaDarrius Bishop (in Craven Whitlow photo above) finished Arkansas’ 55-34 victory Saturday over Colorado State.
McClure, a Jacksonville High graduate and former Cleveland Indians organization minor league baseball player, ran first-team weakside linebacker Tuesday, while redshirt freshman cornerback Bishop of Ashdown operated first team during the team portion of practice.
Sophomore starting weakside linebacker Bumper Pool (bruised clavicle) and his top backup, junior Hayden Henry (bruised shoulder), did not practice Tuesday. Henry forced a fumble Saturday with a jarring hit that Bishop recovered and returned for a 25-yard TD in the fourth quarter.
Pool watched the workout while Henry was not spotted during the Tuesday practice’s first 25 minutes.
Sophomore first-team cornerback Montaric “Buster” Brown, like Bishop from Ashdown, dressed out Tuesday but did not practice during the team session. Bishop again manned the corner opposite sophomore starter Jarques McClellion.
Senior defensive end Jamario Bell of Junction City, missing both games since injuring a knee during the Aug. 31 season-opening victory over Portland State, practiced Tuesday and should play Saturday.
Bell returns just in time to to replace freshman backup defensive Zach Williams. Williams likely misses Saturday’s game and the Sept. 28 SEC game against Texas A&M upon injuring his knee vs. Colorado State, Arkansas coach Chad Morris said Monday.
The 2-1 Razorbacks worked in full pads Tuesday, prepping for Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. (SEC Network televised) non-conference game against the 1-1 San Jose State Spartans at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
CUNNINGHAM TO TACKLE
Junior college transfer Myron Cunningham, a starting guard Arkansas’ first three games but recruited as a tackle, got to run first-team left tackle Tuesday.
Fifth-year senior left offensive tackle Colton Jackson of Conway has played the bulk of every game despite a lingering foot injury since August. So Morris and offensive line coach Dustin Fry are limiting Jackson’s practices to keep his foot healthier for game day.
Junior center Ty Clary of Fayetteville not only was Morris’ Co-Offensive Player of the game with quarterback Nick Starkel against Colorado State, but he made this week’s college team of the week by Pro Football Focus, which graded him the highest of any collegiate center this last week.
“That’s nice,” Clary said after Tuesday’s practice. “Sometimes they don’t give you very much love. So when you do get it, it’s definitely nice. But really you try not to look at that.”
All love must seem good after Clary, as an unheralded true freshman, was thrust into a starting offensive line role for Bret Bielema’s 2017 Razorbacks and again last year for Morris. He might have been better off redshirting one of those years when he took his lumps, but the experience pays off now, Clary said.
“Starting out as a freshman it definitely was tough, but I wouldn’t trade that for the world,” Clary said. “Because it helps me right now. Just game experience and knowing what to expect for home and away games. I’ve been to a lot of these away games that we’re going to this year which is awesome. I can help the guys who haven’t traveled.”
Now it’s Stromberg, the true freshman from Tulsa’s Union High, who will start his third consecutive game at guard. Stromberg first started at left guard when injured Austin Capps missed the season’s second game. He played right and left guard last week with Capps coming off the bench and now right guard with Capps at left guard and Myron Cunningham moved to tackle.
“Ricky has done really well,” Clary said. “Really well for a freshman. It’s hard, especially when you have to play both sides and you can’t just focus on your stance and say, ‘All right, this is my play.’ Because if you play both sides you have to think a little bit more. I’m really proud with what he’s done.”
Stromberg, recruited to play center, has adjusted while shuttling from right to left and back again.
“It was hard at first, but when they started switching me more and more, I got used to it,” Stromberg said Tuesday. “I got used to reversing my calls and so and so. I kind of adjusted to it.”
He’s also adjusted with his play, showing veteran defensive linemen he’s not an intimidated freshman.
“Colorado State, they were calling me freshman this and that,” Stromberg said. “Freshman, new guy, stuff like that. When I made a mistake and I jumped on fourth-and-1, everyone was like, ‘Freshman, freshman, freshman.”
What did they say when he and Clary blocked Arkansas running back Rakeem Boyd’s clear for a 59-yard 7-7 game-tying touchdown?
“They didn’t say anything,” Stromberg replied.