Linebacker/defensive back Jerico Nelson and defensive end Damario Ambrose didn’t practice after sustaining injuries in last Saturday’s 30-23 win against Tulsa.
Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino, who doesn’t speak with the media on Tuesdays, said Nelson suffered a knee injury and his status was “up in the air” Monday. He didn’t mention Ambrose, but the defensive end left the Tulsa game with what appeared to be a knee injury, too.
The severity of both injuries are unknown, but Ambrose and Nelson join a growing list of bruised players.
In addition, starting free safety Elton Ford is out for the rest of the season after fracturing three vertebrae in his neck. Starting defensive end Adrian Davis, who didn’t play against Tulsa, missed Tuesday’s practice because of his sprained knee and his status is unknown.
“We’re resourceful,” safety Matt Harris said. “We definitely miss those guys ... but you can’t hang your hat on one guy on the defense. As soon as we had one guy go down, someone stepped up and made big plays for us. Whoever is in there, we trust they can play.”
Arkansas is thin at some positions, though. With Davis and Ambrose out, senior Antwain Robinson worked with the starters alongside redshirt freshman Jake Bequette at defensive end on Tuesday. Chris Berezansky and Lavunce Askew were with the second-team.
Linebacker Ryan Powers also continued to work at defensive end after playing the position last Saturday.
“With Ambrose out and possibly Adrian Davis out, it’s up to guys like Antwain Robinson,” defensive tackle Malcolm Sheppard said. “He’s done it before. He’s a great player. You lose one, but you’ve got another one.
“With Ambrose, we need him back as quick as possible, but we’ve got somebody else that can step in for him.”
There was better injury news on the offensive front.
Tackle Ray Dominguez, who missed the Tulsa game with an ankle injury, was back at practice. Junior Michael Aguirre started in Dominguez’s place against Tulsa.
“He looked good,” Arkansas center Jonathan Luigs said. “He took a few one-on-one sets with the (defensive line). He was really moving around. You could tell he was giving a little bit on that ankle, but at the same time, he was doing good. It was a good first day back for him.”
Paul Petrino is very familiar with South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier. Arkansas’ offensive coordinator said he has studied Spurrier’s offense throughout his career.
“That’s something that we, all the way back to wherever we’ve been, we’ve always gotten tapes of where he’s been and studied the stuff that he does,” Petrino said. “That’s kind of neat to play against him.”
Petrino also said he and his brother have copied some of the things Spurrier has done offensively.
“I remember when I was at Idaho with John L. Smith, we spent a week with him at spring ball and watched a lot of stuff he did,” Petrino said. “And when we were at Utah State, somehow we got all kinds of their tapes and watched them. And there’s little things you take throughout the years and add. So yeah, there are certain things that they do that we do. They’re very similar.”
More Spurrier Chatter
Harris said the Razorbacks know all about Spurrier and the offensive success he’s had during his career.
However, the junior said Arkansas won’t be intimidated about facing Spurrier and the Gamecocks.
“There’s a lot of good coaches in the SEC, especially coach Spurrier over there at South Carolina,” Harris said. “Whatever program he goes to is usually a successful program. But we’re not going to bow down to coach Spurrier. We respect the guy, but we’re going to go out there and play hard football. It’s the SEC. We’re going to go out there and take it to him.”
South Carolina’s offense hasn’t been Spurrier-like this season. The Gamecocks are seventh in the SEC in total offense (330.4 yards a game) and sixth in scoring (22.9). South Carolina is last in rushing (100.3 yards).
Love Wrapped Up
One player the Razorbacks lost to injury earlier this season, cornerback Jamar Love, returned to action against Tulsa and played well in his stint.
The senior had two tackles and broke up a pass despite playing with a cast to protect his broken thumb.
Bobby Petrino said the cast doesn’t affect Love in coverage, but could hurt him in other areas.
“The thing you worry about is his ability to wrap up when he’s tackling, but he did a real nice job (last Saturday),” Petrino said. “He made two real nice plays at the end of the game.”