FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — After its first loss of the 2016 season, No. 20 Arkansas is preparing for a lighter week. The Hogs begin preparations on Tuesday for Alcorn State — an FCS team that is 1-2.
Here are five key things to watch this weekend.
5. Dominique Reed
Reed is one of the most talented offensive players on the Arkansas roster but has yet to make an impact this season. Bret Bielema called out Reed during his Monday news conference. The last time that happened, Reed seemed to respond well during fall camp. And although Reed fell off the depth chart at wide receiver, he surely will get some playing time once this game gets out of hand. It will be interesting to see how well he plays.
Saturday provides yet another opportunity for the backup linebackers to get in a game and play some significant minutes. It is also an opportunity for starters Brooks Ellis and Dre Greenlaw to catch their breath. Unless De’Jon Harris and Dwayne Eugene make significant improvement — and quickly — it’s the last time Ellis and Greenlaw are going to get that chance for a long time.
3. T.J. Hammonds
Hammonds, a Little Rock native and true freshman running back, hasn’t gotten much of an opportunity to play yet. This could be his time to shine. Listening to coaches, you can tell they are excited about Hammonds’ potential and the unique skill set he would bring to the Arkansas offense. Why not let him put on a show for his hometown?
2. O-line rotation
The depth chart didn’t change after the Texas A&M loss, but given Arkansas’ overwhelming talent edge over Alcorn State, this is a great chance for coaches to try out different guys and see how they respond. Expect Paul Ramirez and Zach Rogers — among others — to get lots of playing time Saturday in Little Rock.
More than anything, this game is about building some confidence after the way last week ended. The Razorbacks still have a lot to be excited about, and you could make the argument they should have won the Texas A&M game. With a brutal stretch coming after Alcorn State, this weekend provides an opportunity to relax, have some fun and get one game closer to securing bowl eligibility.