FAYETTEVILLE — There is a chance that Bumper Pool has played his final game in an Arkansas football uniform, head coach Sam Pittman revealed Monday afternoon.
Now that the Razorbacks are bowl eligible, thanks to their blowout win over No. 14 Ole Miss on Senior Night, the team captain might shut it down to focus on recovering from numerous injuries he’s been dealing with for at least half of the season.
Pittman and Pool have both been open about a lingering hip issue, but the third-year coach said in his weekly press conference that he has “a list” of injuries, including both hips and his back. The fact that he’s made it as long as he has is remarkable.
“About five weeks ago, I thought he was done,” Pittman said. “We shut him down at practice and some things. He’s beat up, man, but he’s a trooper and I don’t know how much further he can go, to be honest with you. And I think with us getting bowl eligible, it could or could not be his last game. I don’t know.”
He didn’t make any definitive announcements, but Pittman did say he wasn’t sure if Pool — a super senior in his final season of eligibility and the all-time leading tackler at Arkansas (441) — would be able to play in Friday’s regular-season finale against Missouri.
There is also a good chance that he won’t be healthy enough to play in the bowl game, either. It seems as though Pool put his body on the line and did everything he could to get the Razorbacks to six wins, which could be his final act in an Arkansas uniform — perhaps explaining why Saturday’s game was so special to both him and Pittman.
“Not a lot of hope there,” Pittman said when asked about his status for the postseason. “I don’t know for sure, but no. I mean, he’s beat up.”
If he’s unable to play, redshirt freshman Chris Paul Jr. would move up into a starting position. It wouldn’t be a huge difference for Arkansas’ defense because his playing time has increased significantly over the past six games.
In fact, Paul actually came off the bench and played more snaps against Ole Miss (a career-high 59 defensive snaps) than Pool did as the starter (42).
Another player who’d be asked to step up is true freshman Jordan Crook, who’s played 50 total defensive snaps this season. He would slide into the No. 3 linebacker spot, subbing in for Paul and Drew Sanders whenever they need a breather.
“Every game (Paul) seems to get a little more confidence,” Pittman said. “He played well against Ole Miss, ran around, did some nice things, so we have confidence in him. That moves Crook up another spot, as well, to get him in the game and let him play a little bit more.”
Arkansas Football’s Weekly Press Conference
Here are several other updates from the third-year coach’s weekly Monday press conference, in which he previewed the Arkansas vs Missouri matchup, gave some injury updates, took a final look back at the Ole Miss win and more…
- On the upcoming game against Missouri: Our rival. Very excited to go to Columbia. We’ve never beaten them there. They’re playing extremely well. Very good defensive team. They’re going to make you throw the football. They have really good corners and can play man. Very aggressive and physical. The defense has changed tremendously this year. Offensively, they’re known for a big physical offensive line and love to run the stretch play. Their quarterback is running the ball a lot more than earlier in the year. I really like their wide receiver group. Very talented, can catch one-on-one passes. They’ve lost some very close games, similar to us. They’re going to be fired up to get bowl eligibility.
- On how to avoid a letdown after gaining bowl eligibility: We’ve got a lot to play for. There’s a lot of difference between 7-5 and 6-6. We could get to 4-4 in the conference, finish in the top half of the conference. It’s a rivalry game, so it’s a big deal. And we haven’t beaten them there. We haven’t beaten them back-to-back. There’s a lot of things we have to play for.
- On injuries: (Jordan) Domineck has a little bit of an ankle injury, but other than that we came out pretty healthy. He is day-to-day, but I think he’ll be okay to play Friday.
- On the 2014 loss at Missouri: I remember the ‘14 game because Brandon Allen was hurt going into the game. Going in, we didn’t know if he would play. He was sore taking the snap, but he toughed it out.
- On players getting invited to postseason all-star games: (Dalton) Wagner has been invited to an all-star game in Hawaii. We’ll have several in the Senior Bowl, too, but I haven’t told the guys yet. I’m waiting until after Friday’s game.
- On whether or not Isaiah Sategna could have a bigger role these last two games: I hope so. Certainly my philosophy is once you get bowl eligible, you want to save one game for a bowl so they can practice with a reason. We’ve amped him up a little bit this week. We’re thin at wide receiver. That would be special teams, as well.
- On Barry Odom’s motivation going against his former school: If you put yourself in his shoes, you’d probably have a little chip on your shoulder. I imagine he would. They still have kids on the team that he recruited.
- On what position Quincey McAdoo could play in the future: He keeps talking about it, about next year playing both. The only reason you’d say no is because nobody else is doing it. He did it in high school. But you could see him having a role on third down on offense or things of that nature. He hasn’t decided what he wants to do.
- On the latest about Jalen Catalon: I don’t want to steal what he wants to do. I suppose sometime after the game, he’ll put something about his return or not return. I don’t want to steal his thunder. We’re in a really good place with Jalen. He’s been away for a while. I told him to take some time off.
- On how Missouri’s defense has improved: They’re stopping the run. You can’t run the ball on them. They’re a one-high team. They’re going to out-number you in the box. They’re making teams throw it and they’re confident in their secondary, and they should be.
- On the finish to the Ole Miss game: Offensively, there was no change except I wanted to use the entire 40-second clock. It can be an excuse if you want it to because we were going fast. We can do (go slower), we just didn’t. We missed a field goal that would have put us up 45-6. Defensively, I think we went into “they can’t beat us unless we give up a big long pass” and they just turned around and handed it off. To be perfectly honest with you, there was no way they could win the game as long as we took the clock off. We probably went too conservative on defense.
Watch Sam Pittman’s full interview here:
Arkansas Football Injury Report
Here’s the latest on various Arkansas football players dealing with injuries…
- LB Bumper Pool (whole lotta stuff): As mentioned above, he’s dealing with a couple of hip injuries and a back injury, among a list of things… His status is up in the air, but Pittman didn’t sound confident that he’d be able to play Friday or in the bowl game
- QB KJ Jefferson (shoulder): Returned to action against Ole Miss and turned in a masterful performance… Said afterward that he’s nearly back to 100% health… Pittman said he looked as good as he has in a long time Sunday and he’s expected to be full-go at practice this week
- OL Dalton Wagner (back): Returned to action against Ole Miss… Pittman believes he’ll be good to go this week, but not 100% sure on how much he’ll be able to do at practice
- DE Jordan Domineck (ankle): Limped off the field at one point against Ole Miss… Pittman declared him “day-to-day” but is leaning toward him being okay and ready to play Friday
- LS Eli Stein (finger): Suffered a dislocated or broken finger during the Ole Miss game… Status for the Missouri game is unknown… John Oehrlein filled in Saturday and would start in his place if he’s unavailable
- DT Taurean Carter (knee): Been out since getting hurt in the Spring Showcase… Pittman said the earliest he might return is the Missouri game, but he didn’t come up during Monday’s press conference
- RB Dominique Johnson (ACL): Out for the year
- QB Kade Renfro (ACL): Out for the year
- CB LaDarrius Bishop (knee): Out for the year
- S Jalen Catalon (shoulder): Out for the year
Arkansas Football Depth Chart
The following depth chart was released to the media by the UA in its weekly game notes…
(NOTE: It’s important to remember that this depth chart is essentially worthless, as has been proved time and time again.)
|QB||KJ Jefferson||Malik Hornsby||Cade Fortin|
|RB||Rocket Sanders||AJ Green||Rashod Dubinion|
|TE||Trey Knox||Nathan Bax||Hudson Henry|
|WR||Ketron Jackson Jr.||Harper Cole|
|WR||Jadon Haselwood||Bryce Stephens|
|WR||Matt Landers||Jaedon Wilson|
|LT||Luke Jones||Andrew Chamblee|
|LG||Brady Latham||Jalen St. John|
|C||Ricky Stromberg||Patrick Kutas|
|RG||Beaux Limmer||E’Marion Harris|
|RT||Dalton Wagner||Ty’Kieast Crawford|
- The only change on the offensive depth chart is that Cole is now listed as the backup receiver behind Jackson. He replaces Warren Thompson, who quit the team last week.
- It’s worth noting that Bax is still listed ahead of Henry at tight end, but they essentially split the backup reps against Ole Miss. It was Bax’s first game back after missing the previous two with an injury.
|DE||Landon Jackson -OR-||Jashaud Stewart|
|DT||Terry Hampton||Eric Gregory|
|DT||Isaiah Nichols||Cam Ball|
|DE||Eric Gregory||Zach Williams -OR-||Jordan Domineck|
|MLB||Drew Sanders||Chris Paul Jr.|
|WLB||Bumper Pool||Jordan Crook||Jackson Woodard|
|NB||Myles Slusher||Jayden Johnson||Trent Gordon|
|CB||Dwight McGlothern||Keuan Parker|
|S||Latavious Brini -AND-||Hudson Clark||Khari Johnson|
|S||Simeon Blair||Jayden Johnson|
|CB||Quincey McAdoo||Malik Chavis|
- The only change on the depth chart is that McAdoo is finally listed as the starter after starting the last two games. He and Chavis were listed with an “or” last week.
- There is still an “or” between Jackson and Stewart at defensive end, but Stewart has started the last three games.
- There is an “and” between Brini and Clark because both of them are on the field at the same time when Arkansas is in its dime package with six defensive backs.
- As mentioned above, Pool’s status is up in the air. If he can’t play, Paul would start for him and Crook would be the top backup linebacker for both starters.
|P||Reid Bauer||Max Fletcher|
|LS||Eli Stein||John Oehrlein -OR-||Francisco Castro|
|KOR||AJ Green||Rashod Dubinion||Harper Cole|
|PR||Bryce Stephens||Harper Cole|
- There are no changes to the special teams depth chart.
- However, it’s worth noting that Bauer and Fletcher split reps at punter against Ole Miss.
- Stein injured his finger against Ole Miss and his status is up in the air. Oehrlein filled in for him and would start in his place if he can’t play.
How to Watch Arkansas vs Missouri
Date: Friday, Nov. 25
Location: Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium (Columbia, Mo.)
Kickoff Time and TV Schedule: 2:30 p.m. CT (CBS)
Announcers: Tom McCarthy (play-by-play), Rick Neuheisel (analyst), Sherree Burruss (sideline reporter)
Arkansas’ Rankings: RV (AP) | NR (Coaches) | No. 32 (SP+) | No. 39 (FPI)
ESPN FPI: Arkansas has a 55.9% chance to win (down 8.7 percentage points from preseason projection)
Odds/Betting Line: Arkansas, -3.5 | O/U 56.5 (FanDuel)
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