By Otis Kirk
FAYETTEVILLE — Obviously much of the conversation at Sam Pittman’s noon Monday meeting with the media was concerning the quarterback situation.
KJ Jefferson left the game in the fourth quarter against Alabama with a head injury. Pittman was asked about Jefferson’s status on Monday?
“Well, he has some mild symptoms,” Pittman said. “Those are things that our doctors look at. Each kid is a little bit different with how they react. We’ve had guys back within 3-4 days. We’ve had guys out for 27 days. He’s kind of a wait-and-see to be honest with you.”
So are you confirming he’s in concussion protocol?
“I didn’t say that,” Pittman said. “Anybody else?”
One surprising move to many was when Jefferson exited the Alabama game, Pittman inserted transfer Cade Fortin into the game instead of Malik Hornsby. Fortin was 4 of 10 for 35 yards. He also ran once for nine yards. Pittman talked about how he felt Fortin performed.
“We’re very confident with him in practice,” Pittman said. “He’s done really well in the two-minute situations. He’s a good quarterback and he has experience. We also believe in Malik. So if anything happened there, we still think we have two really good quarterbacks. They’re certainly different. Even though Cade can run a little bit as well, he would probably be looked at more as the passer and Malik as the runner. But that’s really not true. They both can do either.”
Following the game on Saturday Pittman stated the decision to move Fortin to No. 2 on the depth chart had been made previously and wasn’t a reason decision despite never changing the depth chart released to the media. Pittman then explained Hornsby’s status and if this means he may see some more action at wide receiver.
“He’s a quarterback,” Pittman said. “I mean, he’s a quarterback as well. Certainly the plan for him to play wide receiver has not been even what I thought it would be. But the plan is for him to play quarterback.”
How has Hornsby handled all this?
“There’s situations, too, now,” Pittman said. “I mean, we were behind. Fortin is kind of the guy who is what I would call the passing (quarterback). He’s been in games, we were behind. There’s a lot more that goes into it more than just who we put into the game. Malik is handling it fine. I visited with him today, and he’s fine. He’ll be fine.”
In addition to Jefferson, Arkansas has some other injury situations. Wide receiver Warren Thompson didn’t play against Alabama. Safety Myles Slusher also reinjured himself. Pittman provided an update on both.
“Slusher, I would think he’s a little more beat up, a little worse than Warren. I think Warren, we’ll see what he can do at practice today,” Pittman said. “Slush, I think that’s gonna be wait-and-see. We’ll probably know more on Wednesday about what his status will be, but that calf’s jacked up a little bit.”
Defensive end Jashaud Stewart was injured and didn’t play against Missouri State. He has dressed for both Texas A&M and Alabama, but didn’t play. Is he closer to returning?
“I hope so,” Pittman said. “He hasn’t been. We’re going to find out a little bit more today and take him through some indy and see how far that goes. He hasn’t been, no.”
Sent to SEC
Pittman acknowledged he sent some plays to the SEC office regarding calls against the Tide. One such play was on the Jalen Milroe 77-yard run on third-and-15 play an Alabama offensive lineman was seen holding Arkansas defensive end Jordan Domineck by the facemask and not letting go. Domineck, if not for that, was in position to tackle Milroe. At that point it was 28-23 and very early in the fourth quarter. If Alabama is forced to punt there who knows how the game would have turned out, but the Hogs clearly would have had momentum following a very dominating third quarter.
“We did,” Pittman said. “Now, I’m not a little baby about it, either. I know what we’re going to get back from the league as well. So, if I don’t think we can win, I don’t send in 20. You’re not really winning anyway. You’re just getting a ‘yeah, you were right’ or a ‘no, you were wrong’ type of deal. We always send somewhere probably between three and seven a week. And they’re good enough to look at it, review and send us a voice over what their thoughts were on it.”