FAYETTEVILLE – After a bye week of national award accolades for his 19 tackles with a pick six performance beating Ole Miss, 21-14 on Oct. 17, Grant Morgan after Tuesday’s practice was back to fielding questions about Arkansas’ next game.
Arkansas’ fifth-year senior linebacker from Greenwood readies for the 2-2 Razorbacks visiting the nationally No. 8 Texas A&M Aggies, 3-1 in Saturday night’s 6:30 SEC West game at A&M’s Kyle Field in College Station, Texas.
Razorbacks redshirt freshman cornerback Hudson Clark, redshirt freshman safety Jalen Catalon and redshirt freshman offensive guard Brady Latham also merited national attention during the bye week.
“It’s been good,” Morgan said of digesting the accolades and moving on to the Aggies. “A lot of guys have brought a great attitude and they’ve really just shown that they weren’t about those awards. They were about trying to win those football games, and people are trying to take the right steps with knowing that Texas A&M is the next opponent, and that is the only thing on our mind. Everyone has probably dived into video film more than ever just because the past two weeks.”
How has the former walk-on and formerly spare linebacker become heralded starting middle linebacker handled the attention?
“ I’m handling it fine,” Morgan replied. “I’m not surprised that I was getting this because I’ve been working super hard. But at the end of the day I’m here for the wins and losses. I don’t really care about all that other stuff. If I have zero tackles the rest of the year and we win every single game, I promise you I’ll be re-Tweeting and posting more about it than what happened this past couple of weeks.”
Besides if his head would have started swelling, watching film of A&M quarterback Kellen Mond and running back Isaiah Spiller operating behind an Aggies offensive line that upset Florida would size it back to normal.
An old Southwest Conference rival that Arkansas beat from 2009-2011 nonconference when the Aggies were in the Big 12,
A&M upon joining the SEC in 2012 annually has defeated Arkansas in their SEC West game.
Senior quarterback Mond has been influential in the last ones. Sophomore Spiller averages 6.7 yards per carry this season.
“Kellen Mond is coming back,” Morgan said. “He’s super good. Spiller is really good. Their whole O-line is coming back. Its the same guys that we’ve been playing over the past, but it’s a team that looks revitalized. They look like they’re a top-10 team. They got a good thing going for them.”
Arkansas has faced some big-time running backs its first four games but none more big-time than Spiller, Morgan opined.
“Spiller is probably the best back we faced all year,” Morgan said. “He runs super hard. He hits his gaps. He has the best vision we’ve seen. I think the reason why he’s that good is because their O-line is that good. Their O-line is super experienced.”
The bye week and this game week have provided healing time for Razorbacks like linebacker Bumper Pool, and defensive end Dorian Gerald out with injuries and Razorbacks like Morgan and running back Rakeem Boyd playing despite injuries.
Boyd, Preseason All-SEC after netting 1,133 yards despite Arkansas’ horrific 2-10 2019 season, hasn’t posted a game to 2019 form fighting injuries this season. He returns presumably healthier to College Station where he redshirted in 2016 as an Aggie freshman before transferring to Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College in 2017 and then to Arkansas as a 2018 sophomore.
“I haven’t really talked to him about it,” Arkansas starting quarterback Feleipe Franks said of Boyd returning to Aggieland. “I can just tell that in everybody’s eyes, including Rakeem, that he’s excited to get back out there. He’s feeling a lot better. His ankle is feeling a lot better, and he’s ready to get back out there and go 100 percent again. I can tell you he is excited to go out there, just like all of us, and perform and play a big game.” He had a really good practice today and we need to build on that tomorrow.
Franks was asked about A&M’s defense.
“Obviously, they’re ranked No. 8 for a reason,” Franks said. “I think they’ve got really good players up front and then in the secondary as well. I think they’ve got a good all-around defense. At the end of the day it’s just about going out and executing our offense and executing what we’re coached to do throughout the week.”
Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman on Monday said it’s time the Razorbacks special teams not only prevent big plays from the opposition special teams but spring some big plays of their own.
Do they feel a little extra pressure to do so, senior receiver/kick returner De’Vion Warren was asked after Tuesday’s practice?
“The pressure’s not on us to spring a big play,” Warren said. “We just have to go out there and do what we’re coached to do. We have to fill our lanes. We have to block our people. We have to give our returners a chance and we have to stop the opponents. We have to punt well. We just have to make special teams a different game. We have to go out there and play well and give great effort. That’s what we have to do.”