Arkansas Could Play at Missouri Next Week Instead of Hosting Alabama, Latest Test Results Produce Good News

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Photo Courtesy: University of Arkansas Athletics

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas is scheduled to host Alabama on Saturday, Dec. 5, but hold off on making too many plans for that since the schedule may be changed.

Sources have indicated to that Arkansas could be sent to Missouri next Saturday. Sam Pittman somewhat addressed that while on the SEC Teleconference Wednesday morning.

“The rest of the week, we’re going to give our kids off after this walk-through today and they will be back on Sunday and we will practice, we’ll start for whomever if we have a game – I think we’ll find out on Friday – and we’ll start,” Pittman said. “But whomever that may be, it’s going to be Alabama or Missouri, obviously, if we play on the 5th and we’ll start that. We’ve already watched film on both teams, so we’re prepared on whomever it may be and we’ll start our normal Monday practice certainly on Monday.

“Well, we’re certainly hoping that we can get our players back – by injury, by COVID, by quarantine. We’re very positive that we’ll be able to play next week, assuming the SEC, that’s what they do, they give us a game next week or if we go on the 12th and 19th, whatever they decide to do. We just didn’t have the numbers to play and I’m thankful the criteria was set way before the season started. I’m thankful for the SEC to allow us to postpone our game and reschedule it.”

The latest test results taken Tuesday produced some very good and welcomed news for Arkansas. A reporter thought Pittman meant no one on the team tested positive for COVID, but he explained it.

“No, I did not say that,” Pittman said laughing. “I said the ones that were tested yesterday, there were no positives on the ones that were tested. I mean, you’re not going to test a guy that’s already tested positive. You’re not going to quarantine a guy twice. I mean, you can, but you’ve got to wait 14 days.”

Sources have indicated among the players the Hogs should get back next week are running back Rakeem Boyd and then several defensive linemen, Zach Williams, Eric Gregory, Xavier Kelly, Isaiah Nichols and Julius Coates as well as some other Razorbacks. Pittman feels it will be a relief to get some of his players back to have a manageable number.

“Well, there certainly is a hope that we can get several of our players back, and we can,” Pittman said. “Some of that, if we stay good with the tests, we can get several of our players back. So, that certainly will help us. You know, you never want to put a guy out there before he’s ready to play. I’m not saying that we did that Saturday, I’m just saying that you don’t want to do that. Several guys on our D-line hadn’t had the opportunity to play yet. Again, it’ll make us a better team as we go. Relief wise, I don’t know. The protocol was set at the beginning of the year. We fell just one above that last week, and certainly we’re under that number now because of added injuries and positives that have happened this week. Not many, but then you look into the quarantine situation and it adds more to that.”

Pittman, who missed the Florida game with COVID himself, said this has been a stressful time in recent weeks.

“A lot of stress,” Pittman said. “A lot of stress for me. I can’t speak for the other coaches. A lot of stress just wondering who you’re going to have, who needs to play two positions, who possibly needs to play wideout if they’re playing corner. Just a lot of things. I think eventually it’ll make your team better and make you stronger and things of that nature, but a lot of stress on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. But everybody’s dealing with the same thing. It has been stressful.

“We got our results back today and we were 100 percent negative, so that was a good thing. We got hit pretty hard last Thursday, the Thursday before our LSU game – no, excuse me – the Thursday before our Florida game. We had enough to play, but through the week, those things hit you and any time you start getting close to numbers, then it becomes very, very stressful, let alone some of your starters and things of that nature. It has been a stressful year, but I’m awful glad that we’ve had the season.”

The Razorbacks are 3-5 on the season. Pittman talked about the decision to give them some time off this week since the Missouri game was postponed.

“We made a decision to do that,” Pittman said. “I don’t know how other programs have done that. We made the decision to do that. Would we have normally given them Thursday, no. But, with it being Thanksgiving, we decided to add that day in there. Obviously, every decision we make is whether we can win or not and is it the best thing we can do to win. To your point, you’re going ‘well can we take a little bit of mental stress off these guys and let them come back and say hey we’ve got two weeks left, lets go get it.’ That was our thinking in our coaching staff, yes.”

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