FAYETTEVILLE — Other than possibly senior receiver Keon Hatcher, all the Razorbacks who played in Saturday’s 45-24 SEC loss to Texas A&M at the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium should play in Arkansas’ nonconference game Saturday against the Alcorn State Braves at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
Hatcher, 14 catches for a team leading 281 receiving yards for the AP 20th-ranked 3-1 Razorbacks, couldn’t finish against Texas A&M because of a hamstring injury.
"We’ll rest him a little during the early part of the week," Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said Monday. "Expect him back out there at the end of the week."
Given that nationally No. 1 reigning national/SEC champion Alabama looms Oct. 8 at Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, Bielema presumably will be cautious about playing Hatcher against a heavy underdog 1-2 Alcorn State team from the lower FCS division SWAC.
The Oct. 8 Arkansas vs. Alabama kickoff time has not been set yet as CBS Monday exercised its option to wait until after the Oct. 1 games for its first choice in the SEC rotation televised rotation that otherwise involves ESPN and its various derivatives including the SEC Network and SEC Network Alternate Channel.
CBS likely Oct. 8 deliberates between Arkansas vs. Alabama in Fayetteville and No. 9 Texas A&M vs. No. 11 Tennessee at Texas A&M’s Kyle Field in College Station. So the CBS brass over next weekend will evaluate Arkansas vs. Alcorn State, and in SEC games Alabama hosting Kentucky, Tennessee visiting Georgia and Texas A&M visiting South Carolina.
Saturday’s Arkansas vs. Alcorn State game, marking both Arkansas’ final nonconference game period and the only game this season at Little Rock, kicks off at 11 a.m. and will be televised by the SEC Network Alternate Channel.
Though junior Austin Allen is "sore," Bielema reported Monday that his starting quarterback is good to go to practice all week and play against Alcorn State.
Helped by its reputation of running the ball augmented by Allen’s effective play-action passing, Arkansas protected Allen well in the 17-17 first half against A&M.
However upon the Hogs falling behind two touchdowns and having to pass down after down, the Aggies unleashed their pass-rushers.
They constantly hit Arkansas’ quarterback despite him officially getting sacked but once.
Bielema called his quarterback "a relentless competitor."
"When you have a quarterback that plays the way he does, you’ve got a chance every Saturday," Bielema said.
Because he missed the entire second half following his ejection from last Saturday’s game against Texas A&M, junior backup safety De’Andre Coley should be SEC reinstated for entire game availability against Alcorn State, Bielema and defensive coordinator Robb Smith said.
Coley was ejected for targeting on his late hit that both voided a third down pass breakup by Arkansas cornerback Ryan Pulley, but gave A&M a first down instead of punting from deep in its own territory.
"From what I’ve been explained and what I saw and they confirmed it in the booth is it was just a little bit late and in addition to that he kind of got the forearm involved," Bielema said. "It was a huge teaching moment."
Bielema was asked to comment about LSU firing coach Les Miles Sunday and that USA Today mentioned him as a coach that LSU should consider.
"Well, first Les, there’s been nobody more hospitable, more gracious," Bielema said. "I think he’s a tremendous person. I think he’s done a lot for our game. It’s kind of like last year when Mark (Richt) got fired at Georgia. It’s just amazing the numbers (Miles was 114-34 at LSU) that they have and the results that have come out of there."
What about USA Today bandying Bielema’s name?
"I have no interest in being a coach anywhere than Arkansas," Bielema said. "And especially in the SEC. This is what we came to do. We’re so close. We were knocking on the door Saturday of doing something really special."
Bielema teared up when asked about Kyler Williams, the Springdale High School player killed Saturday night in an automobile accident.
"It just made me sick," Bielema said. "So to Kyler and his family and everybody at Springdale, just know we’re thinking of you."