FOUR DOWNS – ARKANSAS VS. SOUTH CAROLINA NOTES
1. Hamilton Closing In On Record
Arkansas senior Cobi Hamilton set the school’s single-season receptions record last Saturday, topping the mark held by former teammate Jarius Wright.
He has a chance to pass Wright for another school record against South Carolina.
Hamilton is 41 yards shy of setting Arkansas’ single-season mark for receiving yards in a season. The Texarkana native has posted 69 catches for 1,077 yards this season and is within striking distance of Wright’s mark (1,117 yards in 2011).
Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino said before the season he expected Hamilton to have a big year for the Razorbacks, who were replacing Wright, Joe Adams and Greg Childs. Petrino said it is rewarding to see Hamilton — who is averaging an SEC-best 119.7 receiving yards a game — deliver.
“I thought that would probably happen,” Petrino said. “I thought it needed to happen because you don’t have Jarius, Joe, Chris Gragg, Greg Childs. So when you don’t have all those guys, it gives him a better chance to make it. … I’m really proud of him.”
Hamilton has piled up catches in bunches, becoming the first player in school history to record four games of 10 receptions or more. It included an 11-catch, 177-yard performance in last Saturday’s win at Tulsa, when Hamilton eclipsed Wright’s receptions mark (66) to help the Razorbacks enjoy their homecoming game.
Hamilton – who set the SEC record for receiving yards in a game (303) in a loss against Rutgers – said it was nice to celebrate with a win. He reflected on his senior season to date Tuesday, hoping to add to it over the final three games.
“I feel stronger,” Hamilton said. “I take a lot of reps and I get stronger as I go. I feel good. If you had told me how I feel right now at the beginning of the season, I would have accepted it. I’m just having a good year and couldn’t ask for anything better.”
2. Shaw ‘Gimping Around’
South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw has been dealing with a sprained foot the past two weeks. He is expected to play against Arkansas on Saturday, but South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said his starter was limited during Monday’s practice and still has some rehabilitation work to complete before being ready.
“He was gimping around last night at practice,” Spurrier said during his Tuesday press conference. “He stood in the pocket and threw a few, but he couldn't run (Monday) night. Hopefully by the middle of this week he can go.”
Shaw has completed 106 of 160 passes for 1,338 yards with 12 touchdowns and 5 interceptions this season. He also has rushed for 311 yards and 2 touchdowns. Spurrier said backup Dylan Thompson will be ready if Shaw isn’t healthy enough.
Arkansas coach John L. Smith said Monday he expects Shaw to play.
“He’s a very capable player,” Smith said. “He does a lot of good things for them.”
3. Arkansas Personnel Report
Knile Davis (hamstring) participated in Tuesday’s practice, but Petrino said it’s a “long shot” for the injured running back to return for Saturday’s game. Davis, who has 340 rushing yards this season, missed the Tulsa game.
Tight end Chris Gragg (knee) did not practice Tuesday and is expected to miss his fifth game Saturday. Suspended linebacker Terrell Williams, who will be replaced in the starting lineup by freshman Otha Peters, also didn’t practice Tuesday.
Receiver Brandon Mitchell, who has been held out of the past two games, practiced but Petrino indicated he isn’t part of the gameplan for South Carolina. Petrino said “until I am told I have him I am planning on not having him.”
Freshman Nate Holmes, who moved to cornerback for depth reasons earlier this season, is back at running back. Petrino said there’s a chance Holmes, who also is Arkansas’ punt returner, could “get the ball in his hands.”
4. Gamecocks To Honor Lattimore
South Carolina is still coping with the season-ending knee injury to running back Marcus Lattimore. The Arkansas game will be the Gamecocks’ first without their leading rusher, but Spurrier said Lattimore will be in attendance.
In fact, Spurrier said South Carolina is going to honor Lattimore — either before the game or between the first and second quarters — for setting the school record for career touchdowns and rushing touchdowns.
“I think our fans need to know that,” Spurrier said. “Marcus will be here. I'm sure he'll get an ovation, maybe like there's never been here at Williams-Brice.”
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau