Arkansas’ terrible luck with injuries continues.
Alonzo Highsmith leads Arkansas has made 54 tackles, four tackles for loss and two sacks this season.
Senior starting middle linebacker Alonzo Highsmith, the Razorbacks’ leading tackler, is likely out for the season after suffering a ligament injury in his right foot.
In his weekly Monday press conference, Coach John L. Smith provided details on the injury, which occurred in the first half of Saturday’s 24-7 win at Auburn.
Smith said Highsmith will undergo surgery this afternoon to repair the ligament.
“And to my knowledge, may take a screw,” Smith said. “I don’t know but that’s what I’ve been told by the trainer. It is an operation in the foot, and it is a ligament.”
Smith said the Razorbacks do not expect to have Highsmith back this season. Since he’s played in more than 30 percent of the games this season, Highsmith is not eligible to receive a medical redshirt.
The Razorbacks did receive some good news on the injury front, however, as two starting cornerbacks could be back for next Saturday’s home game against Kentucky.
Sophomore corner Tevin Mitchel, who’s been out the past three games after having gall bladder surger, has informed the staff he will be able to play, and senior Kaelon Kelleybrew (concussion) should be able to go after missing last week’s game.
Senior tight end Chris Gragg, who hasn’t played the past two weeks after being suffering a deep bruise early against Rutgers, ran “gingerly” with the team last night, according to Smith.
Tenarius Wright is having an MRI on his injured shoulder today.
Highsmith is tied for second in the SEC and 23rd nationally with 54 tackles this season, and he’s also one of the Razorbacks’ most vocal leaders.
But the injury is even tougher on the Razorbacks than just losing one of their best players and leaders.
Senior Tenarius Wright, the starter at middle linebacker the first three games before moving back to defensive end, was out last week because of a shoulder injury. Smith said the Razorbacks aren’t sure how long Wright will be out, but might know something later today after he has an MRI.
“Again, we can’t afford any injuries, but particularly at that spot,” Smith said. “And what has taken place, we’re going to havee to bump some guys around to kind of fill that void a little bit because as you look at it, you’re without your two starters there in Tank (Wright) and Highsmith.
“So now what we have to do is just move some guys in – Jarrett Lake, Matt Marshall, the freshmen, the two freshmen (Otha Peters and A.J. Turner) are going to see time. So it’s a matter of it will probably be a little bit of fill the void by committee. All of them are going to have to get ready to go and be ready to practice and be ready to play hard.”
Lake, a junior who’s been the backup at the Star linebacker spot, will get the first look as the starter, Smith said, followed by Marshall, a senior who’s been working with the scout team.
Peters came in when Highsmith went down against Auburn, but Smith said at this point he doesn’t expect Peters to start. Still, Peters could get a lot of playing time.
“We’ve had to adjust for other guys missing time,” Smith said. “Whoever’s there has to step in and play and go make plays. That’s what we’ve tried to tell them over and over again, not only last week, but whoever is in this room can make plays. You wouldn’t be sitting here. Go to the field and do it.
“And I tried to tell the freshmen: You’re through being freshmen. That’s over, OK. The learning curve is no excuse. We have no excuses. We can’t make mistakes. We go to the field, we play hard, we make plays. We’re just using a lot of young guys. They can’t look at themselves as freshmen and give themselves an excuse for making a mistake. Just don‘t make mistakes.”
Senior quarterback Tyler Wilson, who missed six quarters because of a concussion, said that Sunday night he gave some thought about all the injuries the Hogs have had.
“We’ve always prided ourselves here about having people that can come in and step in because of how hard we work in the off-season, because of the pressure that’s put on guys in meetings to understand what we’re doing, even in the backup spots,” Wilson said. “There’s always a little bit of dropoff when you go to the next in line. And that’s the difference in a great team and other teams in how quickly that you can maybe fill that gap. I thought we did a tremendous job on Saturday of doing that and I think we’ll continue to.”
For more information from Monday’s press conference, click HERE.