FAYETTEVILLE - Starting left offensive guard Hjalte Froholdt and starting center Zach Rogers, both injured during the Arkansas Razorbacks’ 28-21 loss to Mississippi State, are practicing again and will play in Friday’s finale at Reynolds Razorback Stadium against Missouri, Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema said before the Razorbacks’ closed Wednesday practice.
Arkansas, 4-7, 1-6 in the SEC West, and bowl bound Missouri, 6-5, 3-4 in the SEC East, finish Arkansas’ season in Friday’s 1:30 p.m. CBS televised SEC game at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
“From an injury standpoint I do believe we get Hjalte Froholdt back,” Bielema said on Wednesday’s SEC Coaches/Media teleconference. “He practiced yesterday (Tuesday) with no regression today full go. Zach Rogers as well.”
Backup center Rogers has started since senior All-American candidate Frank Ragnow’s season-ending ankle injury during the season’s seventh game.
Senior reserve Jake Raulerson filled in for Rogers against Mississippi State while Dylan Hayes, recently converted from the defensive line, replaced Froholdt during the Mississippi State game.
“The O-line in particular, getting Hjalte back will be really huge,” Bielema said. “Last week we were realistically down to your third or fourth-string guard and your third-team center. We were paper thin before the game and got extremely thin during the course of it. But those guys have battled well and stepped up to the challenge. Everybody has handled the moment.”
Bielema said junior receiver Jonathan Nance, injuring both his ankle and knee during last Saturday’s fourth quarter, was to attempt his first practice Wednesday and that his Friday availability won’t be decided until just before kickoff.
Freshman kick-returner/reserve receiver D’Vion Warren apparently is on the recovery road while constantly monitored since suffering a concussion last Saturday.
“De'Vion Warren is going through concussion protocol and will do everything today,” Bielema said before Wednesday’s practice.
Although redshirt freshman backup quarterback Cole Kelley has fulfilled a one-game disciplinary suspension, he’s still hampered by a toe turf toe injury.
So sophomore Ty Storey of Charleston, last week’s backup to senior starter Austin Allen, also is taking second unit snaps this week.
“Ty has had a really good week of practice again and Cole is still a little bit limited with that foot,” Bielema said. “We’ll make a final decision tomorrow post practice.”
Fayetteville High graduate Allen was impersonated on the Missouri scout team by another Fayetteville High graduate, Taylor Powell, the redshirting freshman quarterback and son of Razorbacks team orthopedist Dr. Mark Powell.
“ I'm sure it's a fairly unique situation,” Missouri Coach Barry Odom said on Wednesday’s teleconference of Powell impersonating the quarterback he succeeded in high school. “Taylor's got a great skill set. He prides himself in watching the other quarterback and using the same body language, the same mannerisms. He tries to do that each week as the quarterback we're going to face. He's done a heck of a job and he's a tremendous young player that's going to have a great career.”
For Arkansas, sophomore defensive end McTelvin “Sosa” Agim drew raves for his nine tackles, two for lost yardage, and two forced fumbles performance against Mississippi State but sophomore linebacker D’Jon “Scoota” Harris, 12 tackles, also excelled, Bielema said Wednesday.
“The bottom line is this last Saturday he probably played one of the more complete contests defensively in the SEC that we’ve had,” Bielema said. “I can’t say enough about his preparation. He’s a pretty serious kid. Not a gigantic talker but you can tell it means a lot to him. He expressed some leadership voice that I think had a tremendous influence on our guys.”
As he has throughout the week, Bielema fielded a question about enduring a week with speculation rampant, particularly with Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long dismissed last week, on dimming prospects of his Arkansas future.
“Well, I know what the future holds,” Bielema said. “Tomorrow I'm going to get up and get ourselves ready for Friday's game. Saturday I plan on going recruiting. That's everything I've been told to do. I'm planning to build a team as best we can for the future and nothing will vary from that. If something changes that's obviously going to be new information and we'll process it at the time.”
Bielema said he obviously knows 4-7 isn’t what he and had in mind but that his players have responded through the adversity and mounting injuries that for the season among others finished their best returning cornerback, All-American candidate center, best returning receiver, best freshman running back, and for four games sidelined their starting quarterback.
“I realize and our players realize we haven't won all the games we wanted to,” Bielema said. “We haven't exactly lost to Skid Row either. We've had some tough opponents. But our guys really bought into it. I couldn’t be prouder.”