HOGS doing fine at tight end; Notes

HOGS doing fine at tight end; Notes

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FAYETTEVILLE - On Wednesday’s SEC Coaches/Media teleconference,  Sam Pittman said his Razorbacks “got a little healthier last week with the time off.”

Pittman's Hogs (2-2) take on No. 8 Texas A&M at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at A&M’s Kyle Field.

As proof that last week’s bye week healed some Hogs, Pittman noted injured cornerback Montaric “Busta” Brown of Ashdown is cleared to play and that injured linebacker Bumper Pool and defensive end Dorian Gerald have been practicing.

Pittman said it’s still unclear if Gerald, injured during the season-opening loss to Georgia, would be cleared for Saturday’s game. Pool’s game status also was not specified.

Brown’s return comes as early-season starter and (A-State) grad transfer cornerback Jerry Jacobs has opted out of the remainder of the season. Brown will man a corner opposite of redshirt freshman cornerback Hudson Clark, last year’s walk-on scout-team obscurity turned national honoree after intercepting three interceptions two weeks ago in a 33-21 victory over Ole Miss.

True freshman Khari Johnson and Clark started ahead of Jacobs against Ole Miss.

“It won’t really affect our rotation,” Pittman replied when asked about Jacobs’ absence. “We’re adding some guys back from injury, so we should be fine there.”

Originally contracted to play Saturday’s game in September at the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium, the Arkansas vs. Texas A&M game was  moved to College Station, Texas because of covid-19 coronavirus concerns. The SEC revised its 12-game schedule in August to play a 10-game schedule strictly within the SEC.

Arkansas won’t get a home and home out of this. Next year’s Arkansas vs. Texas A&M game is set for the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium.

“We would rather play at a neutral site,” Pittman said regarding Saturday’s game. “But we’re looking forward to going down there and next year playing in Dallas Stadium. We’ll look forward to playing them there, too. There’s not a whole lot as a football  coach I can do about that. We are going to play them there and then play in Dallas next year and we’re excited about both venues.”

Pittman said Saturday’s travel squad is “excited” to play at Kyle Field because none have played there before.

Pittman was in his first of three years as Arkansas’ offensive line coach under Bret Bielema when the Razorbacks in 2013 last played at Kyle Field.

Pittman sounds like he would be impressed with Coach Jimbo Fisher’s Aggies regardless of venue.

“Man, do they have a nice football team!” Pittman said. “Really  playing well, well coached. They have a lot of returning starters on their team at A&M and just a really good-looking football team.”

Arkansas linebackers Grant Morgan and Pool and safety Jalen Catalon are among the SEC’s leading tacklers, possibly indicating the defense is on the field too often and for too long.

“I don’t think it's a bad thing, guys making tackles,” Pittman responded wryly. “I don’t think we have guys on the field too much. If they want to get off the field, they’ll three-and-out them and get off the field. They control that.”

Tight end was the offensive position of most concern for Pittman last summer when preseason practice began.

But between them with six catches each, redshirt freshman tight Hudson Henry (in UA Media Relations photo above) and senior tight end Blake Kern of Lamar have caught 12 passes for 113 yards, one a Henry touchdown.

“I think it’s about what we expected,” Pittman said. “I knew we were a young tight ends group, and Kern has come in as an older player there and helped us when Hudson was out maybe a game and a half. I think we’re going to be fine there at tight end. It’s just we’re very young. I think they’ve actually improved more over the past two or three weeks than even anticipated. I think they’ve become a much better group there.”

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