FOUR DOWNS – Arkansas vs. Louisiana-Monroe Notes
1. Herndon Fills In
Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino said the Razorbacks made a move in its receiving corps during preseason practices.
Junior Javontee Herndon, who started the preseason with the first-team offense at the ‘X’ position, moved behind Cobi Hamilton at the ‘Z.’ On the surface, it didn’t sound like a good move for Herndon to work as Hamilton’s backup considering the senior is Arkansas’ No. 1 receiver. But Petrino said Arkansas had its reasons.
“So much of our offense and so much in practice every day is to that position and so much of the game plan is going to be to that position that we thought if something ever happens to (Hamilton) we better not have a freshman backing him up,” Petrino said. “Because he has to do so much. Line up in so many different places. Move around so much different. That’s kind of why we made that decision and it paid off.”
Hamilton was hurt in the first quarter and Herndon filled in, turning in the best performance of his career. He caught four passes for 96 yards, including a 63-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to help the Razorbacks pull away in a 49-24 win.
Hamilton is expected to return for the Louisiana-Monroe game in Little Rock at 6 p.m. Saturday. But Herndon said he doesn’t mind. He’s happy at the ‘Z.’
“It wasn’t uncomfortable,” Herndon said of the ‘X’ position. “I’ve been playing ‘Z’ for two years and the switch kind of caught me off guard. So when I went to switch back to ‘Z’ I was a lot more confident. I felt like I was at home.”
Arkansas is hoping Herndon will emerge as a consistent threat this season no matter where he plays. Hamilton, Brandon Mitchell and Mekale McKay started the opener, but the Hogs need others to make plays in the high-powered offense.
He was one of four receivers to catch passes in the opener and Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson hopes Herndon — who entered the season with 10 catches for 169 yards — will continue to contribute.
“Javontee’s been a guy that we always felt has the ability to be a big-time playmaker,” Wilson said. “I’ve felt, I’ve been cheering for him internally, to turn it up and be a guy for me. Finally it happened. Finally it happened at a big time.”
2. Fourth Down Calls
Arkansas went for it on fourth down twice during the Jacksonville State game and coach John L. Smith said he made the final decision on both calls. The first came on a third-quarter fourth-and-5 play from the JSU 43. The second was in the fourth quarter, when Arkansas went for it again on fourth-and-5 from the JSU 40.
The Razorbacks couldn’t convert on either play. But Smith wasn’t deterred, saying it was good practice for conference games later this season.
“That’s an area on the field we’ve kind of set aside as we know our drop-dead point at kicking the field goal,” Smith said. “So we’ve got about a 10- to 15-yard area that’s a fourth down area. We’re going to go ahead and practice that at least at this point.
“Had that been Alabama and we’re ahead, yeah, we’re going to kick the ball. We’re going to try to pin them down there. But right now we’re going to practice that. “
3. No Go For Moss
Lousiana-Monroe has two former Razorbacks on its roster in linebacker Austin Moss and fullback Mitchell Bailey. But one of the former Hogs won’t be playing against Arkansas in War Memorial Stadium.
ULM coach Todd Berry said Tuesday that Moss is out with pneumonia. Moss played in 11 games as a freshman at Arkansas in 2009 and redshirted in 2010. He transferred to Navarro College and played in 2011 before heading to ULM.
Moss was listed as a second-team linebacker on ULM’s depth chart.
“He’s been battling something for the last couple of weeks,” Berry said.
4. Extra Points
Hamilton (neck injury) was back on the practice field Tuesday after leaving last Saturday’s game. Hamilton showed no lingering effects during the open portion of practice. “He had such a great spring and a great pre-fall and he looked really anxious the last two days,” Petrino said. “He looked good. He’s running around full speed and looks like he’s ready to go. So hopefully get him a whole bunch of catches and let him light it up this weekend.” … CB Kaelon Kelleybrew worked with the first-team defense during the open portion of practice. He replaced Darius Winston with the starters during Saturday’s game. Winston took some first-team reps a little later. … Arkansas moved up two spots to No. 8 in this week’s Associated Press poll. The Razorbacks moved ahead of Michigan (No. 19) and South Carolina (tied with West Virginia at No. 9). Arkansas remained No. 10 in the USA Today Coaches poll.
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau