HOGS with few regrets, press on

HOGS with few regrets, press on

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FAYETTEVILLE - Injured at the outset Saturday and periodically exiting the game, Arkansas junior receiver Treylon Burks startled his coaches Sunday night almost as much as he startled Alabama.

Even while absorbing some vicious hits, Burks (#16 in Craven Whitlow photo TOP) caught eight passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns in a 42-35 SEC West loss to No. 2 Alabama.

Sunday night when he surely craved recovery time, Burks was back it as the bowl bound Razorbacks (7-4, 3-4 in the SEC) finish their SEC season at 2:30 p.m. Friday against visiting Missouri (6-5, 3-4). CBS plans to televise the game. 

“He practiced yesterday,” Arkansas coach Sam Pittman said Monday. "He's sore, but I believe he'll be fine."

Pittman was gratified to see Burks and his Hogs practice well Sunday after Saturday’s titanic tussle.

“In all honesty, we were surprised,” Pittman said. “The practice was outstanding. We're electing this week to go in spiders (no pads) the entire week. That was not the case until yesterday's practice. Because of the speed of practice last night, I felt like we could get our work done, heal up a little bit and make sure we get our best players to Friday at 2:30. The kids surprised me by how ready they were to go out and practice."

The remaining workouts through Thursday will be devoted to prepping for the “stretch play” Mizzou running back Tyler Badie runs so well.

Badie’s 1,385 yards on 227 carries leads the SEC and ranks fourth nationally. And he’s Mizzou’s leading receiver with  53 catches for 335 yards.

“Tyler Badie’s tearing it up,” Pittman said. “He’s shifty, fast, sees the field really well. He'll cut back on you. He stays on track on that stretch play they run until the last minute. It doesn't seem like he ever has a bad read. They use him a lot throwing the ball to him. He's got really good receiving ability. Just a tough kid and really having a great year."

The final regular-season game Friday marks Senior Day on the Frank Broyles Field at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

It won’t for at least one Razorback senior. Because he’s among those who played during the covid-disrupted 2020 season and has the option to restore that season’s eligibility, 2021 senior offensive tackle Dalton Wagner can and will return to the 2022 Razorbacks.

“Dalton Wagner’s not going out there,” Pittman said of Senior Day ceremonies. “He said, ‘Coach, I told you I was going to come back and that’s what I’m going to do.’ I don’t know about the rest of them.”

The Razorbacks have several, including linebacker Bumper Pool and defensive tackle John Ridgeway and running back Trelon Smith, with options of joining Wagner as sixth-year seniors in 2022 as 11 Hogs did as sixth-year seniors in 2021.

As a three-year player, Burks of Warren has the choice of turning pro after this star-studded season (59 catches for 975 yards and 10 TDs) or returning for a 2022 senior season.

“I haven’t had the chance to sit down and talk with him about the (NFL) information I have,” Pittman said. “I will this week.”

Pittman asserted he was not into a “moral victory” after his 20-point underdogs battled Alabama in a close loss. Pittman admitted Monday he called the timeout on Arkansas’ final possession down 42-28, debating with himself whether to punt or go for it on fourth and 11 from Arkansas 34. The head coach feared the Hogs’ noble effort could be tarnished by a deceptively bloated final score.

Pittman sent the punt team on the field before calling a timeout and  sending the offense back out. Sophomore quarterback KJ Jefferson completed the 16-yard pass to Trey Knox to keep alive the last TD drive. 

“All right, this is the truth,” Pittman said. “We’d played such a good game, and we’re down on the 35, and we’re 14 down. And I go, ‘If we don’t make it, they’re going to score again, and there’s a chance they beat us by 21, and that’s not going to be the tell-tale.'”

Then he practiced what he preaches.

“In that time when I sent the punt team out there versus the time that I called timeout, I said, ‘I ain’t giving these kids a chance to win,'” Pittman said. “And if I do this they’re going to hold it against me, and I’m going to hold it against myself forever.’ No matter what the outcome is, we’ve got to play to win, and that’s exactly what happened.”

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