FOUR DOWNS – ARKANSAS VS. LOUISIANA-MONROE NOTES
1. Small Undergoes Foot Surgery
Arkansas fullback/linebacker Kiero Small underwent surgery for a foot injury Thursday, according to coach John L. Smith.
Smith, in a statement, said the senior suffered the injury in practice Wednesday.
The statement does not indicate the exact extent of Small’s injury or mention a timeline for his return. Smith said Arkansas will “continue to monitor his status.”
“Say a prayer for Kiero Small and his family! It has been a tough couple of days on a very special young man!,” Arkansas running backs coach Tim Horton said via Twitter after the news was announced by the Razorbacks on Thursday.
Losing Small for any period of time would be a blow for an offense that has relied on his blocking ability in the ground game. The 5-foot-10, 255-pound Small, who repeatedly needing his facemask changed after having it bent on blocks last season, was playing both fullback and linebacker for the Razorbacks this season.
He didn’t get any snaps at linebacker during the opener, but spent time at the position in practice this week. Smith indicated he would play the position some against Louisiana-Monroe before suffering the foot injury.
“He has been spending a lot more time on the defensive side of the ball,” Smith said Wednesday. “So that’s where I would expect to see him a bunch. Not that you won’t see him offensively because you definitely will see him offensively.”
Small’s absence leaves Arkansas with Kody Walker and Morgan Linton at fullback.
Arkansas also used tackle Grady Ollison in a goal line package in the opener and offensive coordinator Paul Petrino said the redshirt freshman could help the Hogs.
“He’s got great feet. I think he’s working hard. I think he’s bought in. He’s trying his hardest,” Petrino said of Ollison on Tuesday. “He’s just someone we have to keep putting more weight on. But until we get that weight on him, let’s try to find a couple of roles where he can help us. So one of them is playing fullback.”
2. Hamilton Has ‘Stellar’ Week
Smith said Arkansas receiver Cobi Hamilton should be ready to play after leaving the season opener in the first quarter with a neck injury. In fact, Smith said Hamilton had a “stellar” week as he prepares to play against the Warhawks.
“We’re not expecting anymore out of him than we always do every week, and that’s to go out and be the best receiver on the whole darn field and give us a lot of big plays,” Smith said. “He’ll do that. It’s a shame he didn’t get to play much last week.”
History says Hamilton should play well in Little Rock, too. He has 22 catches for 544 yards and 7 touchdowns in six career games in War Memorial Stadium.
“Little Rock’s his place,” Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson said. “So we’ll see if we can get it to him.”
3. Shed Some Weight
What will it take for Arkansas tackle Jason Peacock to regain a starting job?
One area Smith mentioned Thursday was Peacock’s weight.
“Jason still needs to drop a few pounds,” Smith said. “I talked to him (Thursday). He’s down to 316 and we need to get about six more off of him at least. We need him below 310. But he’s getting there, running harder. Doing more.”
Peacock, who served a one-game suspension for the opener after being arrested in the offseason, is working as the backup to sophomore Brey Cook. He started nine games in 2011, stepping into the starting lineup in the fourth week of the season.
“We try to let him know our eyes are on him every snap,” Peacock said. “You had better produce every snap. He is one of the guys we are trying to push and say, ‘Compete with that guy. Make that guy better. If he doesn’t get better, then you move into his spot. But it has gotten better with him.”
4. Familiar Face
Arkansas’ players and coaches will recognize one member of the Louisiana-Monroe program Saturday night. Mitchell Bailey, who played fullback at Arkansas in 2008 and 2009, is in his senior season with the Warhawks.
“There’s a lot of faces I haven’t seen in a long time,” Bailey said Wednesday. “I still have a few good buddies on the team and I’m looking forward to getting back there and just talking to them. It’s pretty exciting.”
Bailey walked on at Arkansas and said he had been promised a scholarship at some point. It didn’t come in two years, so he transferred to ULM.
Bailey was the team’s fourth-leading rusher last season, collecting 212 yards and 2 touchdowns on 64 carries. He also caught a touchdown pass.
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau