FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Junior safety De’Andre Coley will not be available for No. 17 Arkansas during the first half Saturday at No. 21 Auburn as a result of being ejected for targeting last week.
Though not a starter, Coley is a regular contributor capable of spelling both starters Santos Ramirez and Josh Liddell. However, there’s little depth at the position beyond those three.
Coach Bret Bielema mentioned Reid Miller and Ryder Lucas as possibilities to fill in, but that’s highly unlikely. What’s more probable is the other scenario Bielema mentioned — the Hogs preparing one of their cornerbacks (likely Henre’ Toliver or D.J. Dean) to play safety as a last resort.
Those alternatives are far from ideal, so the hope remains Ramirez and Liddell won’t have to come off the field in the first half.
“It’s an extremely careful situation with (Coley) not being there,” Liddell said. “We have to be smart. We can’t have any costly penalties.”
The targeting ejection was Coley’s second of the season. He was also ejected for a similar hit against Texas A&M. Defensive backs coach Paul Rhoads described this ejection as more costly because it occurred in the second half, forcing Coley to miss parts of two games.
“We’ve certainly addressed it,” Rhoads said. “This one was a little bit different. The one he had before he didn’t miss any game time in the next game. This one, he’s got to prepare fully mentally and physically with the idea that he is going to play in this game for 30 minutes. We’ve talked about when do you get dressed, when do you start to warmup, what do you do as far as warmups so when we take the field in that second half he’s ready to go.”
Coley’s latest ejection came moments after a one-handed interception by Toliver in a 34-30 win over Ole Miss last Saturday. Here’s a look at the play: