Wednesday, October 10, 2018
FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas senior right offensive tackle Brian Wallace apparently has overcome the ankle injury that sidelined him during the second half of the Razorbacks' 65-31 Southeastern Conference on Saturday to No. 1 Alabama in Fayetteville.
Wallace practiced during the 20 minutes of full pads practice Tuesday as the Razorbacks (1-5, 0-3) prepare for Saturday night's 6:30 SEC game against the Ole Miss Rebels (4-2, 0-2) at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
Senior starting right guard Johnny Gibson, of Dumas, was in a green no-contact jersey Tuesday from an injury that wasn't apparent on Saturday. Gibson presumably could play against Ole Miss. The green jersey, also worn Tuesday by running back Devwah Whaley who has missed the last two games with a concussion, denotes precautionary limited practice usually for players still expected to play.
Backup cornerback Britto Tutt, in and out with injuries this season, also practiced in green Tuesday.
New Arkansas coach Chad Morris was asked what kept him from giving up on Cheyenne O'Grady. The talented 6-5, 250 tight end from Fayetteville, spent three years, including a redshirt year, in and an out of former coach Bret Bielema's disciplinary doghouse. He followed the same path under Morris, suspended this season's first two games apparently because of indifference toward always attending classes and getting where he's supposed to be on time.
Now, he is Arkansas' third-leading receiver with 10 catches for 125 yards, including a game-leading seven for 48 yards and two touchdowns against the Crimson Tide (6-0, 3-0).
"First of all, we're not going to give up on anybody," Morris said. "We love each and every one of these young men. They're a son, and they're learning valuable lessons in life. And as long as they care of business, we're in this to help them develop more than just to become a football player. Sometimes, that's some hard lessons, and it has zero to do with talent. ... That's always been my message coaching."
Morris explained the message delivered.
"I think the message was sent loud and clear, and I think he heard it loud and clear," Morris said. "We're not compromising. This is who we are. This is how we're going to have this program to where we all want it to be."
O'Grady logged the most receptions and touchdowns against Alabama after logging the team's most receiving yardage, 77 on three catches including a 36-yarder, for the 24-17 loss to Texas A&M (4-2, 2-1) the preceding week.
"It's really good to see him progress," Morris said. "This is two weeks in a row some good things have happened. What you see is on the field, but what you don't see is happening off-the-field, too. A lot of really good things that are happening."
That O'Grady was left home when the Hogs needed him, losing their second game of the season, 34-27, at Colorado State (2-4, 1-1 Mountain West Conference) hit home.
"Missing that second game, it was really hard," O'Grady said. "Just sitting at home and watching. That's not what I came here to do. Something clicked.
"So, I took it upon myself and be where I'm supposed to be. Coach Morris has a rule to be where you're supposed to be, doing what you're supposed to do to the best of your ability, and that's what I've been really pressing on."
Quarterback Ty Storey said he hopes O'Grady keeps it up.
"O'Grady has been a big spark for us," Storey said. "He's really come along, and you can see the raw talent the guy has. I think it's important for us to keep improving on that. Still keep coming to work every day. He's going to be a huge factor for us coming forward."
Arkansas veteran defensive coordinator John "Chief" Chavis, in his first year at Arkansas, said he has never seen a better, faster defense than Alabama's. In the same breath, he warns in some ways Ole Miss provides an even bigger offensive challenge than Alabama's receivers.
"Ole Miss' receivers are fast, but we are talking about guys 6-4, 230 pounds," Chavis said. "They're bigger, stronger. Hopefully, we get enough people around them to tackle them. That's what we've got to be able to do."
Ole Miss sophomore receiver D.K. Metcalf indeed stands 6-4, 230 and has caught 25 passes for 520 yards with five touchdowns.
Junior A.J. Brown, also 230, is a little shorter at 6-3, but he has the bigger reputation, more catches and more receiving yards. Brown has caught 44 for 586 yards and four touchdowns. He caught nine for 133 and a touchdown when Ole Miss annihilated Louisiana-Monroe (2-4, 0-2 Sun Belt Conference), 70-21, on Saturday.
"He's every bit as good as anybody we've seen this year," Morris said. "There's no question on that. He's very explosive. When he gets the ball in his hands, A.J. is electric with it."
Sports on 10/10/2018
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