Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said he won’t know until Saturday whether safety Rohan Gaines will be available to play against Samford.
Gaines suffered a knee injury on a blitz in the fourth quarter of Arkansas’ 34-14 win against Louisiana-Lafayette last Saturday. The sophomore left his feet trying to make a tackle and his left leg whipped into defensive tackle Darius Philon.
“Rohan will probably be a game-time decision,” Bielema said. “He has come along nicely and done a nice job in rehab. We’ll see exactly where he’s at. The good news is it’s a late game on Saturday so we have two and a half days between now and then.”
Gaines started next to Eric Bennett in the secondary for the opener, finishing with three tackles. Bielema said junior Alan Turner would replace Gaines in the starting lineup if the sophomore can’t play Saturday.
Turner started in Arkansas’ nickel defense in the opener along with Gaines and Bennett. The junior finished with six tackles.
“It’s not different,” Turner said about starting. “I just try to work hard every day for whenever the chance I do get in to help the team and make plays.”
2. Hydration Time
Bielema said Arkansas began a hydration program Wednesday in preparation for the heat expected on game day. The plan worked last week, when the staff made players follow hydration instructions in the days leading up to the season opener.
Bielema said Arkansas didn’t have any issues with cramps in the ULL win.
“They didn’t quite understand it, as is the case with a lot of stuff we do,” Bielema said. “But they saw the results. I told our guys on Sunday, for us to play that game on Saturday and not have one issue on the field with a guy falling down, cramping up … You look around the world of college football. I don’t think we had the hottest environment out there — I know it was hot, don’t get me wrong — but we didn’t have one problem. That’s a direct result of what they did in preparation.”
3. Marshall In Mix
Arkansas played seven true freshmen in its season opener. Bielema indicated that number could be bumped to eight in Saturday’s game against Samford.
Bielema would like to use safety Korliss Marshall, who was prepared for playing in the opener but did not leave the sideline. Bielema said Marshall likely will be used on special teams as he continues to get acclimated to his safety position.
The Osceola native was a running back in high school.
“He’s a kid that every day continues to grow in our program,” Bielema said. “He’s very gifted athletically. He’s very fast. He’s very physical. He’s a good ball player. I think actually, for him, there are certain kids once you get around them you realize they’ll be better a year from now if they play now. Even if it’s in a very minimal role, just to get them used to playing at the speed of the game and where it’s at.”
4. Sullivan Won’t Travel
Samford coach Pat Sullivan won’t travel to Little Rock for Saturday’s game against the Razorbacks, according to AL.com. It will be the second straight game missed by Sullivan, who has not been with the team since undergoing back surgery in July.
Defensive coordinator Bill D’Ottavio will serve as the head coach for the second straight week. D’Ottavio was asked if the added responsibility left him devoting some of his time to the game plan for opposing defenses.
“I really leave that up to the offense,” D’Ottavio said. “We kind of discuss as a staff the overall impression of what we see and we know what a great football team we’re up against this week.”