Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The good news for Arkansas is that their schedule has handed them the home game against Troy this week and the road trip to Alabama next week. The bad news? A pair of key starters for the Hogs will head into that critical SEC West showdown without getting a tuneup against the Trojans.
Bobby Petrino announced Thursday that both senior defensive end Jake Bequette and senior wideout Jarius Wright will miss his team's matchup against Troy Saturday, Bequette with a tweaked hamstring and Wright with a strained knee. The Razorbacks may also be without star receiver Greg Childs, whose grandmother passed away this week.
None of those absences should matter much against the Trojans. For one thing, the Hogs have capable replacements; Bequette's spot will be filled by sophomore Chris Smith, already tied for the team lead in tackles-for-loss with 2. And as for Wright, this is where the Hogs' national-best depth at receiver comes into play. Even if Childs misses the game as well, Arkansas can still start a pair of Biletnikoff Award Watch List members in Cobi Hamilton and Joe Adams.
For another, after their 43-19 loss to Clemson in Week 1, this may not be a vintage Troy squad. And the Hogs even have some good news to report on the injury front, as explosive running back and kick returner Dennis Johnson is due to return from a hamstring injury of his own.
But the questions surrounding Bequette and Wright's absences aren't about to subside no matter how well the Hogs play against Troy. For Petrino's team to win in Tuscaloosa, they'll need all of their most talented players -- which, without question, includes Bequette and Wright -- playing at something close to their best games. So: will they be healthy enough for that? Will they have any rust after missing the last game and a half and a big chunk of practice time? If they are rusty, will they have any hope of hanging with a team of the caliber of the Crimson Tide, on the road?
Thanks to the schedule-maker, things could be worse for the Hogs. But given the uncertainty that now surrounds the team's best pass-rusher and field-stretching receiver, things could be a lot better, too.