FAYETTEVILLE — Senior running back Rakeem Boyd was hurt against Mississippi State then missed the Auburn game entirely, but it appears he’s back this week for Ole Miss.
Sources indicated earlier in the week that Boyd would be able to play this week and then on Thursday Boyd tweeted about it.
Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman was asked about it during his Thursday Zoom conference with reporters.
“Well, I’ve got to get on Twitter, because he said he’s going to play?,” Pittman said. “Oh, that’s awesome. I’m going to get on there and follow him on Twitter. We’ll be extremely happy if he’s able to play. Obviously, he’s a really fine running back and we’d love to have him out there playing.
“I think we did the right thing with him last week by not playing him. I don’t know how effective he would have been if we’d been able to play him. But I’m glad he’s ready to go.”
This season, Boyd had 19 carries for 49 yards. He also has caught four passes for eight yards. Trelon Smith started in his place at Auburn and played well. Pittman has confidence in him as well.
“I look at Trelon as a starter,” Pittman said. “I think he proved that last week. When we get Rakeem back, I feel like we have two really good running backs right there. We’re trying to develop Dominique (Johnson) and (A’Montae) Spivey behind them and of course, before (Josh) Oglesby got hurt, we were real pleased with what he was doing in camp as well. Trelon, I mean he’s just a tough. You know what you’re going to get every time he goes out there. He’s a tough, physical, smart player who lights up the team when he goes out there. Lights me up, too.”
Pittman is also optimistic the game Saturday will be played as schedule. Lane Kiffin said on Wednesday Ole Miss was battling COVID issues.
“As I’m aware, we’re going to play,” Pittman said. “Obviously there was a test this morning for all SEC teams and we’ll get that result back, usually we test early on Thursday so we’ll get our results back earlier in case you’re on the road and all those things, have to leave earlier. But as of right now, I have no indication that we’re not going to play.”
In addition to Boyd, Pittman feels he will have redshirt freshman tight end Hudson Henry back as well. He also liked what he saw from the offense early in the week.
“I think Hudson will be available,” P ittman said. “Honestly, I thought we had a really good Monday and Tuesday practice and on offense, I did not think it was up to our standards yesterday. Some of those things are additions to what we’re trying to get done and things of that nature that take time, I get it, but we have to have a better practice today. But I was pleased Monday and Tuesday. I was not so happy with the way we practiced yesterday.”
Wide receiver Treylon Burks and cornerback Montaric Brown also are trying to come off the injured list according to Pittman.
“Treylon has practiced all week, so I’m expecting him to play,” Pittman said. “Montaric has practiced all week as well, so we’re hoping he gets cleared for the game.”
Sophomore wide receiver Trey Knox isn’t injured, but dropped a couple of passes at Auburn including a two-point conversion. Pittman isn’t concerned with Knox and has full confidence in him.
“Trey’s had a good week of practice,” Pittman said. “He always practices hard, and he catches the ball. Unfortunately, he dropped a couple balls last week. But one game is not going to define that kid. I’m proud of him, and he’ll come back strong and be a good player for us. I have no doubt that he’ll have a good game.”
Arkansas fell behind Auburn 17-0 last week and Pittman said things needed to change in the warmups prior to the game. Will there be any noticeable changes this week we can recognize?
“I don’t think so,” Pittman said. “I was talking more about the urgency of pregame. Our kids were up watching Missouri and LSU last week on the big screen. I don’t know if that had anything to do with Auburn. We’re sitting there watching it, going through the motions, dropping passes. We weren’t out there urgently getting ready for the game. I believe everything matters including stretch and everything.
“I think it has something to do with the way we started. 17-0 down also means you’re probably not playing very good anywhere. I think we have to really amp up what our expectations are of warmups. When you amp that up, you also amp up the mind. Our mind was on Missouri and LSU it looked to me like, now I’m not positive that’s what it was, but I know I was pretty hot after the warmups with trying to get our team focused.”
Special teams also had a rough outing at Auburn. Pittman was asked if they have fixed the issues this week?
“Well, I didn’t think it was going to be a problem going in last week either,” Pittman said. “I mean, we have officials at every practice and we obviously have our eyes on it, but it was, so we obviously have emphasized it this week to make sure it doesn’t happen again. I think we’ll play a lot better this week in special teams. We certainly need to. We’ve sure amped up everything, trying to get everything fixed, and not only get it fixed but let it be an advantage for us like I thought it would be this season for us. We’ve worked awful hard. It’s a big day for us today, practice day for special teams as well, and we certainly hope we’ve got it all fixed.”
Arkansas and Ole Miss are scheduled to kickoff at 2:30 p.m. in Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Saturday. It’s homecoming for the Hogs. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.