FAYETTEVILLE — For the second time this season, Arkansas football has lost a key weapon at tight end because of an injury.
Redshirt freshman Ty Washington suffered a dislocated shoulder on the third play of the Razorbacks 39-36 overtime win at Florida that is expected to require season-ending surgery, head coach Sam Pittman confirmed Monday afternoon.
It’s another big blow to Arkansas’ offense, as he had caught passes on two of those first three plays to give him 11 receptions for 170 yards on the season — all within the past four games. He was only thrust into duty when midseason Freshman All-American Luke Hasz went down with a broken broken clavicle against Texas A&M. He had 16 catches for 253 yards at the time of his injury.
Despite the two significant injuries with three games remaining in the regular season, Pittman said he was confident the Razorbacks would be able to fill the void again.
“If we show we’re too worried about it, it’s a negative for the team,” Pittman said. “We’ve always stepped up, kind of like Ty did. I mean, Ty, you can say what you want, he was (No.) 5 on the depth chart before he got his opportunity and then we figured out he’s a really good player. Somebody will step up and I believe they’ll play really well.”
The question is who’s next. The most obvious answer is Var’keyes Gumms, as he was a heralded transfer portal addition from North Texas this offseason.
However, he’s caught only two passes for 27 yards this season — a far cry from the 34 receptions for 458 yards and five touchdowns that earned him Freshman All-America accolades as a redshirt freshman for the Mean Green.
While most fans will remember the procedure penalty he drew, Gumms had his best day as a blocker against Florida after the Washington injury, even though he played only 19 snaps. ESPN’s Cole Cubelic said on Twitter that he “got after it in (the) run game” and Pittman echoed that sentiment Monday.
“I saw a lot of life out of Gumms,” Pittman said. “It was the most physical he’d been. Now part of that is probably because his ankle’s healed up. He’s had an ankle for a long time.”
The Razorbacks ended up leaning heavily on former walk-on Nathan Bax, a super senior, in the Florida game, as he played 45 snaps. Louisville transfer Francis Sherman chipped in 10 snaps. Both of them are viewed as more blocking tight ends rather than pass catchers, though.
As far as the next man in line, Pittman mentioned walk-on redshirt freshman Hunter Talley, a converted quarterback from Siloam Springs, would fill the spot on the depth chart. It was a bit of a surprise considering heralded four-star signee Shamar Easter is waiting in the wings, plus Pittman has been high on walk-on true freshman Maddox Lassiter from Warren.
“We’ve got some opportunities with Easter and Lassiter,” Pittman said. “I just think in this short period of time, Hunter Talley knows the offense better than the other fellas do, and he’s really looked good on the scout team as well. So, we’ll move him up to be No. 4 there.”
The one constant through the tumultuous season for the tight end room has been first-year tight ends coach Morgan Turner, who came to Arkansas after a decade in the same position at Stanford.
His experience working with numerous NFL Draft picks over the years has already paid dividends with the success of Hasz and Washington, but now he’ll be tasked with finding a third option.
“You have to have that next guy ready to play, and he’s done a really good job with that,” Pittman said. “I anticipate him doing it again, but I think it’s just his demeanor and his ability to teach and motivate.”
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 Florida win, previewed the Arkansas vs Auburn matchup, gave some injury updates and more…
- On facing Auburn: Excited to get back home against a team in Auburn that’s playing really well, won two SEC games in a row. They want to run the football. QB can run. Hunter is really good. Good offensive line. They’re a very physical team. Multiple fronts defensively. Very aggressive, a lot of twists, a lot of movement. Very good in special teams.
- On whether or not Kenny Guiton is a candidate to be full-time OC: Absolutely. I don’t know how I couldn’t look at him after that performance. I spoke with him about that a little, as well, about our timeline. At that point, if you decided to stay in house, you’d figure out which position he felt most comfortable coaching from the coordinator spot. We haven’t made that decision yet. … I thought he called a freaking great game.
- On his offensive tackles: Kutas, I don’t know if we’re going to get him back this week. He’s got a high ankle. … Devon Manuel played really well. Crawford brought some juice, too. We’ll let them battle it out this week, but I’d anticipate Ty’Kieast being on the right side and Devon and Chamblee being the left side guys. Chamblee is our best bet to play both, so he would be our rotational guy.
- On wide receivers Andrew Armstrong and Isaiah Sategna: Armstrong is going to be just fine. We’ll know a little more at practice today, whether he’s cleared from his headache. I think he’s going to be fine. … Sategna did some good things for us. I was upset with him a little bit on the first punt, but after watching film, it took a bounce and I don’t know if he could have comfortably fielded that ball. I feel like he’ll continue to get better and improve.
- On the controversial calls at Florida: I talked to the head of officiating on two specific plays. One was at the end of the game. The other was that play. It’s a very hard call on those guys. … My only thing was if that’s the call, then they had another player come and wipe everyone out. That should have been a 15-yard penalty after the play was dead. It’s either our ball or they get a 15-yard penalty. … On the other one, they made a mistake and didn’t go into substitution protocol. That FG attempt never should have been attempted. Luckily justice was served on that one.
- On the secondary: We were able to move Snaxx to Hog and that was a big deal. They were picking on us a little bit there with 1 and 3. We moved Hud back to safety. Al is still nursing a knee, so it allowed us to get him off the field more. That was the most physical I’ve seen Nudie play. That’ll certainly bode well for him in the future.
- On the impact of playing with tempo: I think it benefits the offensive line. That’s the biggest key. People are able to get their cleats in the ground and checking and stuff because they don’t have as much time.
- On Auburn QB Payton Thorne: He is a really competitive guy and tough. And he’s fast. What i talked about last night was I don’t think there’s a reason to have two separate defenses for two different quarterbacks. He is much more athletic than I thought he would be. They’ll run their RPO offense with him. He’s throwing the ball well. The biggest thing is he’s just really, really competitive. You can kind of feel it through the film.
- On interim OC Kenny Guiton: He’s got a lot of swag about him, a lot of confidence. Not overbearing, but a lot of confidence. The kids can feel it. The kids have a lot of confidence in him. KJ played his best game, by far, this season on Saturday. Rocket did, too. That has a lot to do with passion and pride. That’s what Kenny brought to them.
- On RB AJ Green’s lack of touches after his fumble: We have a lot of faith in him. I just told Jimmy after that, ‘Let’s rev up the Rocket and go win us the game.’ It had nothing to do with AJ. It was just that Rocket was playing well and we wanted to use him.
- On Auburn coach Hugh Freeze: Liberty gave him a chance and he took full advantage of that. He’s earned his way back to where he is. The bottom line is he’s a good man and I’m happy for him. We want to beat him on Saturday, but I’m happy for what he’s done.
- On the five sacks at Florida: At least two of those, maybe three, were runs and they just got tackled behind the line of scrimmage.
- On his interaction with OL Josh Braun following the win at Florida: It was really special. He came up to me and thanked me. I don’t know why. There were other people who would have taken him. As I’m walking to the bus, his dad made a special effort to come talk to me, as well. His dad said some awfully nice things. It didn’t really have a lot to do with me. He just took the opportunity and ran with it.
Watch Arkansas football coach Sam Pittman’s full press conference ahead of Arkansas vs Auburn here:
Arkansas Football Injury Report
Here’s the latest on various Arkansas football players dealing with injuries ahead of Arkansas vs Auburn…
- RB Rocket Sanders (knee): Returned to action vs. Florida, rushing for 103 yards on 18 carries
- TE Ty Washington (dislocated shoulder): Injured on third play of the game… Pittman said after the game that he believed it was a season-ending injury… He confirmed that on Monday
- WR Andrew Armstrong (head): Left the Florida game after hitting his head hard on the turf while trying to reel in a touchdown… Managed to walk to the locker room under his own power… Pittman said he’ll be fine, but was unsure about his status for Monday’s practice
- RT Patrick Kutas (high ankle sprain): Left the Florida game with an injury… Pittman revealed on Monday that it was a high-ankle sprain and exactly how high it is will dictate how long he’ll be out… He didn’t sound optimistic about his chances to play vs. Auburn
- DT Anthony Booker Jr. (ankle): Also left the Florida game with an ankle injury, but Pittman didn’t sound as pessimistic about his status vs. Auburn
- CB LaDarrius Bishop (undisclosed): Returned to action vs. Florida, contributing on special teams
- OL Luke Brown (finger): Has not dressed out this season
- DT Marcus Miller (undisclosed): Has not dressed out this season
- TE Luke Hasz (broken clavicle): Out for the season… Could potentially return for a bowl game if Arkansas makes one
- CB Quincey McAdoo (neck): Out for the season
- OL Terry Wells (torn pec): Out for the season
- OL Eli Henderson (knee): Out for the season
- WR Sam Mbake (knee): Out for the season
Arkansas Football Depth Chart
The following depth chart for Arkansas vs Auburn 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 -OR-|
|TE||Nathan Bax||Var’keyes Gumms -OR-||Francis Sherman|
|WR||Andrew Armstrong||Davion Dozier|
|WR||Isaac TeSlaa||Isaiah Sategna||Bryce Stephens|
|WR||Tyrone Broden -OR-||Jaedon Wilson||Dazmin James|
|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 Bax is now listed as the starter with Gumms and Sherman are listed as co-backups now that Ty Washington is out for the year.
- It’s also worth nothing that Harris is listed as the backup right tackle, but Crawford entered for him when he went down with an injury.
- There is still an “or” between Chamblee and Manuel at left tackle. Chamblee has started all but one game, including against Florida, but he was eventually lifted in favor of Manuel.
|DE||Landon Jackson||John Morgan III||Jashaud Stewart|
|DT||Cam Ball||Taurean Carter||Keivie Rose|
|DT||Eric Gregory||Anthony Booker Jr.|
|DE||Trajan Jeffcoat||Zach Williams|
|LB||Chris Paul Jr.||Antonio Grier -OR-||Brad Spence|
|LB||Jaheim Thomas||Jordan Crook|
|NB||Hudson Clark||TJ Metcalf||Jaylen Lewis|
|CB||Lorando Johnson||Dwight McGlothern||Kee’yon Stewart|
|S||Alfahiym Walcott||Malik Chavis|
|S||Jayden Johnson||TJ Metcalf|
|CB||Jaylon Braxton||Jaheim Singletary||LaDarrius Bishop|
- There are no changes to the defensive depth chart for Arkansas vs Auburn.
- However, it’s worth noting that McGlothern came off the bench against Florida, allowing Lorando Johnson to move to nickel and Hudson Clark to move to safety.
|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 Auburn.
How to Watch Arkansas vs Auburn
Date: Saturday, Nov. 11
Location: Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium (Fayetteville, Ark.)
Kickoff Time and TV Schedule: 3 p.m. CT (SEC Network)
Announcers: Dave Neal (play-by-play), Derek Mason (color analyst), Alex Chappell (sideline reporter)
Arkansas’ Rankings: NR (AP) | NR (Coaches) | No. 50 (SP+) | No. 35 (FPI)
ESPN FPI: Arkansas has an 54.3% chance to win
SP+ Projection: Auburn has a 50% chance to win, favored by 0.2 (proj. score: 26-26)
Odds/Betting Line: Arkansas, -2.5 | O/U 49.5 (BetSaracen)
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