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Pittman prays for Brooks

by Tom Murphy | September 19, 2023 at 2:40 a.m.
Arkansas Defensive Back Greg Brooks Jr. (9) celebrates after stop on Friday, Nov. 26 2021, during the second half of play at Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville. Visit for today's photo gallery..(Special to the NWA Democrat-Gazette/David Beach)

FAYETTEVILLE -- University of Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman opened his weekly press conference on Monday by extending thoughts and prayers to LSU defensive back Greg Brooks, who played his first three seasons at Arkansas (2019-21) before transferring to his home state.

Brooks missed last week's 41-14 road win at Mississippi State due to an undisclosed medical emergency. The Tigers awarded Brooks the game ball and LSU Coach Brian Kelly touched on his status in his Monday press conference.

Brooks has been ruled out this week.

"It's a family matter," Kelly said. "I'm not going to speak on the family's behalf. If there is anything that I can get to you further, after I speak with the family, I will certainly give you information."

Pittman and the Razorbacks (2-1) take on No. 12 LSU (2-1, 1-0 SEC) at 6 p.m. on Saturday at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La.

"I'm not positive what is going on with him, but they talked about a medical emergency," Pittman said at the top of his opening remarks. "Greg was a wonderful kid when he was here and did a great job for us. Whatever it may be, I want him and his family and LSU to know that we're concerned, we're praying for him and we hope that he has a speedy recovery.

"I wish I knew more about it but I don't. I do know a medical emergency means there's something wrong, and our thoughts and prayers are with him and the LSU football team and community."

Little comment

Sam Pittman had very little to say about the specifics of some of the Hogs' 14 penalties for 125 yards in Saturday's 38-31 loss to BYU.

"I don't know if I'm going to get fined, I obviously didn't agree with all the calls and all that kind of stuff," Pittman said.

A reporter suggested a critical offensive pass interference call against Luke Hasz looked like incidental contact, to which Pittman replied, "It sure was."

Instead of KJ Jefferson's pass to Hasz in the first quarter being an 8-yard gain and Arkansas having fourth-and-1 at the BYU 34, the penalty made it third-and-25 from the Razorbacks' 42.

After an incompletion, Arkansas punted.

BYU defensive lineman Jackson Cravens crashed into quarterback KJ Jefferson when he was being tackled at the end of a 1-yard keeper to the BYU 8 on the second-to-last play of the first half.

"BYU was fortunate that there wasn't a flag thrown on Cravens for coming in late, coming in hot and delivering a shoulder," ESPN commentator Rod Gilmore said. "He came in hot and came in high."

Pittman was asked if he thought that was a missed spearing call.

"You said it," he answered, meaning it was the reporter's words. "I mean, I'm going to get fined guys. I appreciate the question."

On the flip side, Arkansas linebacker Antonio Grier was flagged for roughing the passer for a quite gentle bump into BYU quarterback Kedon Slovis after he had delivered a pass in the third quarter.

A Big 12 crew worked the game and Pittman said he wasn't sure if he could be fined by the Big 12 for commenting on calls.

"I don't have any idea," he said. "I don't know. I don't want to chance it. ... But yeah, I mean ... yeah."

Arkansas and other teams often send in video of questionable calls to the SEC office for review and comment. Pittman said he didn't send any video this week to the Big 12 or SEC.

Going inside

The Razorbacks worked out inside Walker Pavilion in spider pads on a hot day with temperatures in the low 90s in Northwest Arkansas.

Coach Sam Pittman, talking about the lost snaps by offensive linemen, explained the rationale for going in the lightest pads available.

"For some reason we've had some hand issues," Pittman said. "We've got three of them on the offensive line. You need your grip there. We're going to go spiders today.

"I'm going to try and heal up some of that if we can. That was the plan whether we would have won or lost. I think you go through 25 days of physical preseason, and we've been really physical. Last week was our most physical practice. So, I'm going to try and heal them up just a little bit. You can still get a lot of work done in spiders, but that's what we're going to do."

Pittman spent a few minutes during the early portion of practice talking to Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek, who had spoken a few hours earlier at the Little Rock Touchdown Club.

Injury report

Arkansas tailback Raheem "Rocket" Sanders, who has missed two consecutive games with left knee swelling, was going station to station with the running back corps but not participating in group drills early in Monday's workout. Sanders had been on the sideline with other injured players the last two weeks.

Offensive tackle Devon Manuel looked to be a full go at practice after missing Saturday's game with a stinger. Redshirt freshman Andrew Chamblee has started the first three games at left tackle, a spot Manuel occupied coming out of spring ball.

Defensive back Malik Chavis was going through drills with a wrap on his right hand after what Sam Pittman deemed a finger/hand injury a few weeks back. Chavis is questionable this week and might be able to return next week, Pittman said.

For LSU, inside linebacker Omar Speights, defensive end Ovie Oghoufo and tight end Mason Taylor, who either sat out or played sparingly in the Tigers' 41-14 win at Mississippi State last week, are all probable against the Hogs.

Each of the players had a lower body injury. Oghoufo played only on special teams while the other two sat out with their injuries.

Tube talk

The Razorbacks will face Texas A&M at 11 a.m. Sept 30 in Arlington, Texas, the SEC office announced on Monday. The game will be shown on either ESPN or the SEC Network. A six-day selection will be used to determine the TV network assignment.

Arkansas will serve as the designated home team for the game at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.

Fake stop

Much of BYU's trickery worked last Saturday, such as a 37-yard touchdown on a wide receiver pass from Parker Kingston to Deion Smith, but the Cougars even caught a break when one of their gadget plays backfired.

Holder Ryan Rehkow got up and ran over the left side after catching the snap on a field goal try on fourth-and-7 from the Arkansas 21 late in the third quarter. He ran into a blocker and Jaheim Singletary and Landon Jackson stuffed him in his tracks at the Arkansas 22.

However, the Cougars were flagged for delay of game prior to the snap, and kicker Will Ferrin made a 43-yard field goal to cut their deficit to 31-24 with 4:43 left in the third period.

Big comeback

BYU's comeback win from a 14-0 deficit against the Razorbacks was the biggest in Coach Kalani Sitake's eight seasons.

The largest comeback had been from a 12-point deficit in a 43-26 victory over Houston in 2020.

When Arkansas won 52-35 at BYU last season, the Razorbacks trailed 21-14 in the second quarter.

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