FOUR DOWNS – ARKANSAS VS. KENTUCKY NOTES
1. Highsmith Out For Season
Arkansas will play without one of its defensive leaders the rest of the season.
Coach John L. Smith said linebacker Alonzo Highsmith is out with a foot injury, which will require surgery. The senior was hurt during the first half of the 24-7 win at Auburn last Saturday. He entered the game tied for the Southeastern Conference lead in tackles (51) and had three more last Saturday before leaving the field.
Smith said from what he understood Highsmith would miss the final six games of the regular season. If so, it means his Arkansas career has ended.
"That is unfortunate,” Smith said. “We can’t afford any injuries, but particularly at that spot and what has taken place. We’re going to have 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 being Tank (Wright) and Highsmith."
Highsmith transferred from Phoenix (Ariz.) College before the 2011 season and had started in every game of his career. He piled up 134 tackles in 19 games.
The Missouri City, Texas, native also was elected one of Arkansas’ six team captains in the offseason. He missed spring practice with a torn pectoral muscle injury, but reached the 10-tackle mark in three straight games before his injury last Saturday.
“He’s a tremendous player,” Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson said. “A good, vocal leader. It’s always heartbreaking when you lose a guy that you care about and like. I liked Alonzo, but I think he’ll be out there in spirit as far as rallying the guys. Obviously it’s tough for him, but I think, I think he’ll come back and do what he can do to help defensively in terms of leadership and that type stuff.
“We’ve got some guys that will hopefully step in and fill the void and do a good job.”
Freshman Otha Peters played next to senior Terrell Williams after Highsmith left the Auburn game last Saturday. Smith said Arkansas would have to shuffle some players around to help with depth without Highsmith, mentioning reserves Jarrett Lake and Matt Marshall as players who would be counted on to help at the position.
"It’s tough to see one of our senior captains go out like that," Arkansas defensive end Chris Smith said. "But he came back on the sideline later in the third quarter. He’s still being a vocal leader. It’s tough to lose a guy like that, but you know, other guys have to step up."
2. Other Injury Updates
It’s not clear whether Arkansas will have tight end Chris Gragg or defensive end Tenarius Wright for the Kentucky game. Gragg has missed two straight with a bone bruise, while Wright didn’t make the trip to Auburn because of a shoulder issue.
Smith said Gragg did run “gingerly” during the team’s workout session Sunday and is hoping he could be involved in practice this week. Wright was scheduled to undergo an imaging scan on his shoulder to determine the extent of his problems, which began early in preseason practice.
“I don't have a report on him yet (Monday),” Smith said. “Is it stiff? Is it sore? Is it whatever? How it came out we will have (Monday). He's got a rest day so it was good for him to go run and all of that and see how stiff and sore it was afterwards.”
Arkansas did have some good news on the injury front Monday. Smith said cornerback Tevin Mitchel should be available after missing four straight games.
Mitchel was carted off the field during the Louisiana-Monroe loss after suffering a head injury. He also had his gall bladder removed after suffering the injury, but returned to participate in non-contact drills during practice last week.
3. Flowers Earns SEC Honor
Defensive end Trey Flowers set a career-high with 3 1/2 sacks at Auburn and was recognized by the Southeastern Conference for his efforts two days later.
Flowers was named the SEC's Defensive Lineman of the Week on Monday after playing a big role in helping the Razorbacks snap their four-game losing streak.
"I guess you could say I had a chip on my shoulder," Flowers said. "Coming back here and knowing Auburn didn't give me a scholarship, so I just had a chip on my shoulder saying that somebody has got to pay. ... So I just made plays."
Flowers' 3 1/2 sacks were the most by an SEC player in a game so far this season. The Huntsville native is ranked fifth in the SEC with 4 1/2 sacks.
“Congratulations to Trey,” Smith said. “What a great thing it is to be selected to the SEC Defensive Player. He deserves it. It was great to see him go home and to smile and to have such a great day as he had.”
4. Who Is Left At QB?
Arkansas isn’t the only team working through a rash of injuries. Kentucky is going through similar problems, especially at the quarterback position.
Two quarterbacks – Maxwell Smith and Patrick Towles – will miss the Arkansas game because of injuries. It should leave Jalen Whitlow getting the bulk of the work at Arkansas with Morgan Newton and Jeff Witthuhn working as backups.
Whitlow has completed 23 of 50 passes for 199 yards with two interceptions.
“We'll have three quarterbacks there,” Kentucky coach Joker Phillips said. “Two that have played and one that has not played. But we just feel like we have to take Witthuhn us to help us get out of the game, possible.”
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau