FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas will open the 2021 football season on Saturday against Rice in Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
Sam Pittman is set to begin his second season at Arkansas. He has felt the team has had good practices so far, but admitted the injuries are mounting.
“I still think we’re a little beat up right now,” Pittman said. “I think we’re going to be fine on Saturday. There’s more green out there in jerseys than what we wish we had. Certainly, we haven’t had any injuries that were season-ending and things of that nature. We’re still beat up a little more than I’d like to be on a Monday, but also you have to practice. So, we’ll be smart with those guys but anticipating that we get most of them back for the game. I feel good about the team and where they’re at spirit wise and where they are mentally.”
A key Razorback who has been injured in recent days is junior wide receiver Treylon Burks. Pittman is obviously concerned over getting his standout back for the opener.
“I still think that’s day by day,” Pittman said. “He’s progressed over the weekend. I think we’re going to progress him a little bit today, probably a little bit more tomorrow. And then we’ll see what happens. I had a good talk with [trainer] Dave Polanski this morning about it. We’re going to play if he’s ready, and if he’s not, we’re not.
“I really don’t know whether he’s going to play or not. I have no idea. I think it’s going to depend on probably the next two days, how he goes. I don’t want to play him on Saturday if he hasn’t practiced at all, either. But we’re hoping we can get him back by Wednesday.”
Defensive lineman John Ridgeway had an appendectomy and thus isn’t likely to play against the Owls. Ridgeway put a picture of him in the hospital on Instagram.
“Yeah, we’ve got to work on that a little bit,” Pittman said. “I don’t know if he’ll be able to play this week or not. Doesn’t look good for that to happen. He’s doing fine, but I don’t look for him to be ready this week.”
If Ridgeway can’t go Pittman still feels the Hogs are deep enough on the line to face Rice.
“I do,” Pittman said. “Certainly we have Isaiah Nichols and Taurean Carter. I think they’ll be fine if he’s not able to play. And Eric Gregory could also move into that spot if we needed him to. But I think right now it would be Isaiah and Taurean. And Taurean started in spring ball, you know. So I have really good confidence that we can do whatever Barry’s (Odom) game plan is there. I don’t think we’re going to end up not doing anything that we had planned for this game because Ridgeway may not be able to go.”
Pittman said injuries or illnesses such as that is one of the reasons they cross train on the line and in the secondary.
“Well, to me, and I know there’s a difference between nose and 3-technique,” Pittman said. “I know. But a lot of teams if they’re in an over front, they play left and right tackles, basically, then they shift them if the tight end is to the left then our right D-tackle shifts to a 3, the other guy goes to a nose, and if he’s on the right then the guy will play a 3 and other guy goes to nose. I don’t think that’s as big of a deal. If you were a head-up 0, you know, if we play a whole lot of odd — we’ll play some, obviously — it might be a bigger deal, but I think you just have two D-tackles and that’s why I said what I said about Eric Gregory, because we moved him inside.”
Arkansas will practice this afternoon.