FOUR DOWNS – ARKANSAS VS. TEXAS A&M NOTES
1. Gragg Not At Practice
Arkansas opened its preparation for Texas A&M without tight end Chris Gragg, who did not participate after suffering a bone bruise in the 35-26 loss to Rutgers.
Offensive coordinator Paul Petrino said Gragg remains day-to-day with the injury, but hasn’t been ruled out for Saturday’s game. The senior is second on the team in receiving with 19 catches for 234 yards with two touchdowns.
“We wouldn’t have been able to count on him (Tuesday), but it looks like he’s getting better, sounds like he’s getting better,” Petrino said.
Arkansas’ passing attack pressed on without Gragg for most of Saturday’s loss, leaning on senior Cobi Hamilton (10 catches, 303 yards, 3 touchdowns).
But quarterback Tyler Wilson expects opponents to concentrate on Hamilton this week, giving others like Brandon Mitchell bigger opportunities. Mitchell said he’ll be ready after seeing Hamilton set an SEC receiving record last Saturday.
“He’s still the No. 1 focus in our offense,” Mitchell said of Hamilton. “When the opportunity’s there I just have to make plays.”
Of course, Petrino and the Razorbacks remain hopeful Gragg will be available, too.
Tight ends Austin Tate, Alex Voelzke and Demetrius Dean could get more playing time if Gragg isn’t ready Saturday.
“It’s one of your bullets. It’s one of your ‘Feed the studs.’ That’s one of your biggest studs,” Petrino said. “That’s part of football. … Whoever you got that’s who you got to play with. That’s who you fight with. That’s who you’ve got to go win with.”
2. Keep It Quiet
Wilson hinted that the Razorbacks were being a little “predictable” in the run game during Monday’s press conference.
There was one problem: Petrino was asked about it a day later and said the conversation wasn’t intended for the public as Arkansas tries to address issues.
“It was just a little conversation about a couple things me and Tyler had that need to stay between me and Tyler,” Petrino said.
“There was just a couple things here and there that we looked at. You always self scout. You always evaluate yourself and there were a couple things that maybe we were doing that I don’t really want to talk about any more to be honest with you.”
3. Charpentier, Deacon Battling
Guard Luke Charpentier earned the first start of his career Saturday, filling in for injured senior Tyler Deacon. Petrino said Deacon was able to practice Tuesday and both players split time with the first-team offensive line.
Petrino said Charpentier graded out “OK” and both could play Saturday.
“Deacon’s back feeling better this week so those two are competing,” Petrino said. “They split the exact same amount of reps in practice. They’ll do that the next two days and whoever is practicing best will start.
4 Extra Points
Safety Eric Bennett was limited with an unknown injury during the portion of practice open to the media Tuesday. Sophomore Alan Turner appeared to be working in Bennett’s place with the first-team defense. … Cornerback Tevin Mitchel was not dressed out, but watched teammates practice Tuesday. It’s not clear when Mitchel, who has missed two games after his helmet-to-helmet collision in the Louisiana-Monroe loss, will be available to return. … Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said he has known Arkansas coach John L. Smith for a long time, dating back to his time as a graduate assistant at Washington State in 1989-90. Smith left Washington State after the 1988 season to become the head coach at nearby Idaho. Sumlin was asked about Arkansas’ struggles and said “it’s tough” for Smith and added: “It’s a situation where he wants to win this game in the worse way.”
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau