FOUR DOWNS – ARKANSAS VS. KENTUCKY NOTES
1. Wright Out For Season
Arkansas has lost another defensive player for the rest of the season.
Coach John L. Smith said defensive end Tenarius Wright will undergo shoulder surgery that will keep him out of the final six games. The news came after Wright underwent an imaging scan on his sore shoulder earlier Monday.
He is the second defensive captain to be ruled out for the season this week. Senior linebacker Alonzo Highsmith also is done after suffering a foot injury at Auburn.
“He had to make a decision on what to do,” Smith said about Wright’s shoulder injury Wednesday. “It is injured. He had to make a decision on what to do and he’s decided he’s going to go get it fixed. So he’ll be out for the year.”
Wright has been bothered by a shoulder problem since the first week of preseason drills. The Memphis native left practice after a collision with running back Knile Davis, missed roughly two weeks of practice and was held out of contact work.
Wright started the season as Arkansas’ middle linebacker, but moved back to defensive end late last month because of his shoulder injury. He did not play in the 24-7 win against Auburn last week and had his shoulder examined Monday.
Wright had 28 tackles in five games this season. His absence now leaves Arkansas with just one healthy defensive captain – defensive tackle Alfred Davis.
“It’s football,” Davis said of Wright’s injury. “That’s going to happen. That’s why you have guys that are second string and third string that have to step up and play those roles now because guys have been hurt and out for the season and things like that.”
2. Smith Will Play Despite Arrest
Arkansas defensive end Chris Smith was arrested on a warrant Wednesday for failing to appear in court, but will not miss Saturday’s game against Kentucky.
Fayetteville police arrested the 20-year-old early Wednesday after a warrant was issued in Farmington for an unpaid speeding ticket.
Smith originally was pulled over on May 4 and ticketed for driving 64 miles per hour in a 45 miles per hour zone, according to Farmington Police records. He missed a July 18 court date for the citation and the warrant was issued July 31.
Smith was released from the Washington County Detention Center after posting $415 bond at 4:11 a.m. and has a court date scheduled for Dec. 19.
John L. Smith and defensive coordinator Paul Haynes indicated Smith is being punished for the arrest. But the punishment will not include a suspension Saturday.
“I met with Chris,” Smith said Wednesday morning. “We’ll get all of that handled.”
Smith has 23 tackles, 4 1/2 tackles for losses and 3 1/2 sacks in six starts.
3. Gragg ‘Very, Very Doubtful’
Smith said Arkansas will play without tight end Chris Gragg for the third straight game Saturday. Gragg has been sidelined since suffering a bone bruise in his leg during the first half of the Rutgers loss on Sept. 22.
“He’s moving in the right direction,” Smith said. “Is he going to be ready to go this week? Probably very, very doubtful. I’m just going to be honest with you. He’s probably another game away.”
Austin Tate will continue to work in the starting spot in Gragg’s absence. The junior has caught eight passes for 74 yards this season. It included a career-high four catches for 44 yards in the win at Auburn last Saturday.
“We are gaining more confidence in him and I think he is gaining more confidence in himself and is becoming a better player,” Smith said.
4. Extra Points
Smith said running back Ronnie Wingo is questionable for Saturday’s game because of a shoulder injury. Wingo, who has 53 rushing and 46 receiving yards this season, wore a yellow non-contact jersey during Tuesday’s practice. … Cornerback Tevin Mitchel (head injury/gall bladder surgery) participated in contact work in Tuesday’s practice for the first time since suffering his injury on Sept. 8. Haynes said Mitchel “will play a lot for us” Saturday after missing four straight games. … Smith confirmed freshman A.J. Turner is in line to get his first start at weakside linebacker next to senior Terrell Williams. Turner has eight tackles this season. … CB Kaelon Kelleybrew has been working at the star position this week because of Arkansas’ depth issues at linebacker. Haynes said Kelleybrew, who missed the Auburn game, could earn playing time at both cornerback and the star position Saturday.
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau