FOUR DOWNS – ARKANSAS VS. MISSISSIPPI STATE NOTES
1. Hamilton Named Biletnikoff Semifinalist
Arkansas receiver Cobi Hamilton has had a record-setting season with the Razorbacks, catching 73 passes for 1,149 yards with 4 touchdowns.
The senior’s performance has placed him in the running for the Biletnikoff Award, which is presented annually to the nation’s top receiver. Hamilton was among 10 semifinalists announced Monday. Three finalists will be named Nov. 19.
“He’s one of the top receivers in the country and I get to throw it to him every day,” Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson said Monday. “That’s exciting for me to have a guy like that on my team and try to get it in his hands as much as I can.”
Hamilton leads the Southeastern Conference and ranks fifth in the nation in receiving yards a game (114.9). He holds the SEC’s single-game record for receiving yards (303) and also eclipsed former Hog Jarius Wright’s records in both single-season receptions and yards. Hamilton can become the school’s all-time leader in both categories with 267 receiving yards and 11 catches the next two weeks.
The other Biletnikoff semifinalists include: West Virginia’s Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks, New Mexico State’s Austin Franklin, Arizona’s Austin Hill, Clemson’s Deandre Hopkins, USC’s Marqise Lee, Louisiana Tech’s Quinton Patton and Baylor’s Terrance Williams.
Hamilton has caught at least one pass in 32 straight games, which is the longest active streak in the SEC. He’ll try to extend it at Mississippi State on Saturday.
2. Patterson on Arkansas
There have been plenty of rumblings about Gary Patterson and Arkansas the past several days. So what does the TCU coach think about them?
Patterson — who is 115-34 in 12 seasons at TCU — was asked about rumors connected him to the Arkansas job during the Big 12 teleconference on Monday morning. Patterson said: “I don’t think there’s anything to that.”
TCU (6-4, 3-4 in Big 12) is coming off a 23-10 loss to top-ranked Kansas State and has an open week. The Horned Frogs, who are in their first year in the Big 12, close the regular season at Texas (Nov. 22) and at Oklahoma (Dec. 1).
Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long has said several times he doesn't plan to speak to prospective candidates about the job until after the regular season.
3. Player Updates
Arkansas coach John L. Smith said linebacker Terrell Williams is still working his way back to the team after being suspended indefinitely for a driving while intoxicated arrest on Nov. 3. Williams, who ranks fourth on the team in tackles, was suspended indefinitely after being arrested for driving while intoxicated hours after the Tulsa win on Nov. 3. He did not play against South Carolina.
Smith also indicated the Razorbacks are planning to play without tight end Chris Gragg once again because of a knee injury. Gragg – who has played in just three full games this season – has missed two straight after re-aggravating the injury.
Running back Knile Davis is closer to a return, though, after missing two straight games with a hamstring injury. Smith said Davis ran Sunday and felt pretty good.
“His leg is coming along,” Smith said. “And he had a good weekend of treatment. So I’m more optimistic there than I am with Gragg.”
4. First-Year Woes
If Arkansas finds a way to beat Mississippi State on Saturday, coach John L. Smith will accomplish something significant in the series. No Arkansas coach has beaten the Bulldogs in his first season with the Razorbacks.
The first-year struggles stretch back to 1992, when Arkansas lost to Mississippi State under interim coach Joe Kines. Danny Ford’s first team tied the Bulldogs in 1993, while Houston Nutt and Bobby Petrino suffered losses in 1998, 2008.
Ford, Nutt and Petrino didn’t have much trouble against Mississippi State after the first-year losses, combining to go 15-1 the rest of the time.
“We’re going to have to be well prepared to do a good job and go in and play our very best and get a win,” Smith said. “That’s where our focus is and that’s what we have to get done.”
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau