FAYETTEVILLE — More changes are on the horizon for the Arkansas football depth chart, particularly in the trenches.
After giving Devon Manuel his first career start in the last game, head coach Sam Pittman said the Razorbacks would experiment with shuffling their offensive line this week ahead of Arkansas vs Ole Miss — but that doesn’t mean they’re hitting the panic button.
It’s a necessary move considering the unit’s production so far this season, including Saturday’s miserable performance against Texas A&M in which the Aggies racked up 15 tackles for loss and seven sacks.
“We’re going to look at some different scenarios up front,” Pittman said. “There’s a difference in panic and really reviewing what we’re trying to do and who is trying to do it, so we may shake up the offensive line a little bit.”
Through the first five weeks of the season, Arkansas has kept things relatively constant up front. Patrick Kutas, Josh Braun and Beaux Limmer have started every game, while Brady Latham missed the opener because of a concussion and has played the rest of the season.
Andrew Chamblee started the first four games of the season, but that was because of various injuries to Manuel, who replaced him against Texas A&M.
A few backups, like Ty’Kieast Crawford and E’Marion Harris, have played meaningful reps this season, but it sounds like the changes may be more of a shuffle than wholesale switches.
“I think we have the guys, the five best, (but) I don’t know that we have them in the correct position,” Pittman said. “We may, but I think we’re going to look at some of that changing to maybe help them. Maybe simplify it. Maybe put them by an older guy that can help them, communicate with them.”
Limmer and Latham are fifth-year seniors who’ve spent their entire careers at Arkansas and started multiple seasons, with the latter also being elected a team captain. Braun is a redshirt junior who transferred in from Florida, where he played a decent amount.
Those three are the veterans and currently occupy the middle of the line, but they each have experience at other spots.
Before Limmer took over at center for the Liberty Bowl last year, he was a right guard. Latham has spent most of his career at left guard, but has also played left tackle. Braun has started the last four games at right guard, but started the opener at left guard in Latham’s absence.
Pittman said those are moves Arkansas could look at this week, as well as Kutas — a sophomore — moving from right tackle to center, where he has a lot of practice reps.
The only lineman Pittman indicated wouldn’t move at all is Manuel at left tackle, as the redshirt sophomore needs to get comfortable there after missing so much time because of injuries.
“He didn’t practice basically for three or four weeks and he got behind mentally,” Pittman said. “So he’s got to catch up and the only way I know how to do that is he’s got to rep that. We can’t move him. He’s behind mentally, so we have to keep him in that spot.”
Making these kind of suggestions off the field is about as hands-on as Pittman gets with the offensive line. On Monday, he said he doesn’t want to do too much on-field instruction, despite his reputation as an offensive line guru, because he’s conscious of not overstepping the boundaries of offensive line coach Cody Kennedy.
“We’ve got a great offensive line coach — the same one that we had when we led the Power 5 in rushing two years ago and the same one that everybody tries to get when the season’s over with,” Pittman said. “He’ll get it fixed as good as anybody can.”
As he’s mentioned several times through the season, Pittman also said the struggles aren’t entirely on the offensive line. Each player on offense plays a role.
“We’ve got to make some guys miss at running back, our quarterback has to play consistent and we’ve got to be able to get open,” Pittman said. “If you look at it offensively, I think a lot of it has been maybe tagged on the offensive line, and there’s certainly problems there, but there’s a lot of areas that we can get better at.”
With star freshman Luke Hasz going down with a season-ending injury, Pittman added that he’s opening up the tight end competition in practice.
North Texas transfer Var’keyes Gumms filled in against Texas A&M, but Ty Washington will get a shot to be the pass-catching tight end this week. It’ll also be a battle between Nathan Bax and Francis Sherman at the blocking tight end spot. Pittman didn’t rule out running back Dominique Johnson getting a look at the position, either.
Arkansas Football’s Weekly Press Conference
Here are several other updates from the fourth-year coach’s weekly Monday press conference, in which he looked back at the Texas A&M loss, previewed the Arkansas vs Ole Miss matchup, gave some injury updates and more…
- On his defense: The thing lost in all of this is I’ve been fairly pleased with our defense. Three turnovers, things of that nature.
- On tight end Var’keyes Gumms: He’s a good player. The physicality part of it… His ability to make plays… He has it, he just has to make it. A lot of him not playing was because of Luke. They were very similar in blocking. You’ll see a good player, just one who was behind Luke.
- On the Ole Miss offense: Dart is really good. Those two running backs are as good as anybody has, both of them. They’ve got three veterans on the line and went in the portal and got a couple of good players. Kiffin runs the ball quite a bit and I would, too, if I had those running backs. You see a lot of explosives. For us to win, we have to cut those out.
- On the Arkansas vs Ole Miss series: The first thing you think of is offense. You have to score a lot of points to win the game. Lane Kiffin is a great play caller. Pete Golding has done a great job with their defense. It’s been a fun series. We’ve had some success in the series since I’ve been here. I have a lot of respect for them. I think it’s going to be one hell of a game for fans to watch.
- On Ole Miss QB Jaxson Dart: Dart is fast. Ole Miss, it looks like they’re having fun and he’s jumping over people. The thing about him is he’s a great passer, but he’s fast and athletic.
- On Ole Miss’ offense vs. Alabama and LSU: Schematically, there were two different schemes, two different coverages. Alabama’s front four, their two ends, put quite a bit of pressure on him and they couldn’t run the ball as well as they did against LSU. It’s hard to stop someone if they’re having success running and passing. You have to make them one-dimensional. Alabama did that a little better. But honestly, they missed some plays against Alabama and if they hit them, that game looks different.
- On his tight ends: You look at Gumms and Tyrus, those guys are similar to Hasz. I believe they can (step up). I do think our depth is better than what it was last year.
- On KJ Jefferson’s leadership: He’s been great. KJ’s been here before. I remember after the LSU game, I was talking about staying together and when I got through, KJ said, ‘We’ve been here before.’ It made me feel good that he knows we’ve been here and come back.
- On wide receiver Isaac TeSlaa: If your quarterback doesn’t have time, that’s going to impact your receivers. It doesn’t matter if you have Treylon Burks out there. I don’t think TeSlaa’s move to the slot has hurt his production.
- On addressing KJ Jefferson’s records with the team: Things have changed a little bit because with social media, all of the kids already know it. That was Saturday and now it’s Monday. I’m weird about awards and records. It’s really a great accomplishment. You have to stay healthy for a long time and be really good.
- On KJ Jefferson’s motivation returning home: I’m sure it does. I think everybody in life needs a little bit of motivation. I think this is obviously a big deal going back. We just didn’t quite get it done last time, but it sure wasn’t on him. He was outstanding. We’ll get rolling. I believe in this team. I’m really excited to get over to Ole Miss and see what happens Saturday night.
Watch Arkansas football coach Sam Pittman’s full press conference ahead of Arkansas vs Ole Miss here:
Arkansas Football Injury Report
Here’s the latest on various Arkansas football players dealing with injuries…
- TE Luke Hasz (broken clavicle): Got hurt on the third play of the game… Sam Pittman revealed after the game that he was likely done for the season, but didn’t rule out him potentially playing in a bowl game if the Razorbacks make one
- CB Dwight McGlothern (concussion): Status vs. Ole Miss is up in the air… Left the Texas A&M game midway through the second quarter
- DE John Morgan III (neck): Returned to Fayetteville on Sunday after being transported to a local hospital on Saturday… Pittman said he has another test Monday, but he could play vs. Ole Miss
- DE Jashaud Stewart (groin): Did not travel to Arlington… No update on his timeline to return
- RB Rocket Sanders (knee): Returned to action vs. Texas A&M, rushing for 34 yards on 11 carries and catching two passes for 36 yards… Had missed the previous three games with a knee injury suffered vs. Texas A&M
- DT Anthony Booker Jr. (knee): Played vs. Texas A&M after missing the LSU game
- S Malik Chavis (hand/wrist): Made his season debut vs. Texas A&M after missing the first four games of the season
- DE Quincy Rhodes Jr. (head): Did not appear on defense, but played special teams vs. Texas A&M… First action since the opener against Western Carolina, when he suffered a concussion
- OL Eli Henderson (undisclosed): Did not travel to Arlington
- OL Joey Su’a (undisclosed): Did not travel to Arlington… Has not dressed out this season
- OL Luke Brown (undisclosed): Did not travel to Arlington… Has not dressed out this season
- DT Marcus Miller (undisclosed): Did not travel to Arlington… Has not dressed out this season
- DB Dallas Young (undisclosed): Did not travel to Arlington… Has not dressed out this season
- CB Quincey McAdoo (neck): Out for the season
- OL Terry Wells (torn pec): Out for the season
- WR Sam Mbake (knee): Out for the season
Arkansas Football Depth Chart
The following depth chart was released to the media by the UA in its weekly game notes…
For a breakdown of how the depth chart has evolved throughout the season, click here.
(NOTE: It’s important to remember that this depth chart is essentially worthless, as has been proved time and time again.)
|QB||KJ Jefferson||Jacolby Criswell|
|RB||Rocket Sanders||AJ Green||Rashod Dubinion|
|TE||Nathan Bax -OR-||Var’keyes Gumms -OR-||Francis Sherman -OR-|
|WR||Andrew Armstrong||Tyrone Broden|
|WR||Isaac TeSlaa||Davion Dozier||Dazmin James|
|WR||Jaedon Wilson||Isaiah Sategna||Bryce Stephens|
|LT||Andrew Chamblee -OR-||Devon Manuel|
|LG||Brady Latham||Josh Street|
|C||Beaux Limmer||Amaury Wiggins|
|RG||Joshua Braun||Ty’Kieast Crawford|
|RT||Patrick Kutas||E’Marion Harris|
- The only change is at tight end, where Luke Hasz is out for the year with a broken clavicle. He had been listed as the starter with Sherman as the backup. However, there is now an “or” between all four remaining tight ends.
- There is still an “or” at left tackle, but Manuel started against Texas A&M.
- As mentioned above, Sam Pittman is considering shuffling his offensive line this week.
|DE||Landon Jackson||John Morgan III||Jashaud Stewart|
|DT||Taurean Carter||Keivie Rose|
|DT||Eric Gregory||Cam Ball||Anthony Booker Jr.|
|DE||Trajan Jeffcoat||Zach Williams|
|LB||Chris Paul Jr.||Antonio Grier -OR-||Brad Spence|
|LB||Jaheim Thomas||Jordan Crook|
|NB||Lorando Johnson||TJ Metcalf||Jaylen Lewis|
|CB||Dwight McGlothern||Kee’yon Stewart||LaDarrius Bishop|
|S||Alfahiym Walcott||Malik Chavis|
|S||Jayden Johnson||Hudson Clark|
|CB||Jaheim Singletary||Jaylon Braxton||LaDarrius Bishop|
- No changes were made to the defensive depth chart.
- However, it’s worth noting that Braxton got the nod over Singletary at the second cornerback spot vs. Texas A&M. With McGlothern dealing with a concussion, they may both start against Ole Miss.
|K/KO||Cam Little||Blake Ford|
|P||Max Fletcher||Devin Bale|
|LS||Eli Stein||Ashton Ngo|
|H||Max Fletcher||Devin Bale|
|KOR||Isaiah Sategna||AJ Green|
|PR||Isaiah Sategna||Bryce Stephens|
- No changes were made to the special teams depth chart for Arkansas vs Ole Miss.
How to Watch Arkansas vs Ole Miss
Date: Saturday, Oct. 7
Location: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium (Oxford, Miss.)
Kickoff Time and TV Schedule: 6:30 p.m. CT (SEC Network)
Announcers: Tom Hart (play-by-play), Cole Cubelic (color analyst), Alyssa Lang (sideline reporter)
Arkansas’ Rankings: NR (AP) | NR (Coaches) | No. 39 (SP+) | No. 36 (FPI)
ESPN FPI: Ole Miss has an 82.0% chance to win
SP+ Projection: Ole Miss has a 71% chance to win, favored by 9.5 (proj. score: 35-25)
Odds/Betting Line: Ole Miss, -10.5 | O/U 63.5 (BetSaracen)
More coverage of Arkansas football from BoAS…