Arkansas receiver Brandon Mitchell will miss his third straight game when the Razorbacks play South Carolina on Saturday. But Arkansas coach John L. Smith said the junior will be back on the field for the season-finale against LSU on Nov. 23.
Smith said Thursday the Razorbacks have some “resolution” in regard to Mitchell, who Arkansas said was being held out for violating team rules before the 30-27 loss to Ole Miss. The team’s third-leading receiver will serve a four-game suspension.
“We have a resolution. We have a solution,” Smith said. “And that’s just one of those things we discovered there was a problem, we checked into the problem, we’ve made a decision and now we’re correcting the problem.
“He’s a quality young man that we love and he’s a valued part of this team, so he’ll be back for the LSU game ready to roll.”
Smith was asked once again if Mitchell’s four-game suspension was because of an NCAA eligibility issue. He refused to elaborate.
“We have a resolution,” Smith said. “We have a solution. That is what we’ve done.”
Arkansas has remained vague regarding the details of Mitchell’s suspension since it was announced before the Ole Miss game. Smith has declined to comment on any questions pertaining to NCAA compliance issues regarding Mitchell. A spokesperson has said athletic director Jeff Long and associate athletic director for compliance Jon Fagg were not available for comment regarding Mitchell’s status, either.
A Freedom of Information request for documents pertaining to any correspondence between Fagg and the NCAA did not produce results regarding Mitchell, although an athletic department official indicated “additional pages of responsive records exist but they are exempt from disclosure because they constitute an ‘education record’ as defined in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.”
Mitchell is Arkansas’ third-leading receiver, catching 15 passes for 257 yards this season. He also is Arkansas’ third-team quarterback, throwing a key touchdown pass on a trick play during the 24-7 win against Auburn last month.
2. Peacock Back In Lineup?
Smith also said Thursday offensive tackle Jason Peacock was removed from the starting lineup for the Tulsa game because he was “kind of in the doghouse.” Peacock – who did not play in the 19-15 win — was replaced by Brey Cook.
“I don’t want to talk much more than that,” Smith said. “Sometimes he has a tendency to get in and out of the doghouse. It was nothing serious. We just still love him and he’s still again a valued member of the team, so this week he’ll play.”
Smith added he “would not be surprised” if Peacock started Saturday. If so, the senior will face South Carolina defensive ends Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor.
3. Freshmen Ready
Arkansas will have little depth at linebacker Saturday. Freshmen A.J. Turner and Otha Peters will start, while Braylon Mitchell and Jarrett Lake serve as backups.
So Smith was asked Thursday if he thought the freshmen were prepared to log 70 or more snaps if needed Saturday.
“Hopefully, you knock on wood, they’re playing extremely well and don’t need a ton of break,” Smith said. “Going in you say, ‘Yes, you have to give them some break. But if things are going good and they’re playing well and they feel good about themselves and everything that’s going on, then physically they can play 70 plays.”
Turner will start his fourth straight game Saturday. Peters will make his first start.
4. Spurrier’s Plea
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier wrapped up his comments for the week with a plea to Gamecocks fans Thursday.
“We need you Saturday,” Spurrier said. “We need you. We need to treat Arkansas as if its Georgia, Tennessee, Clemson, whoever. This team has beaten us more than all them teams have beaten us in the last three years combined. So we need to get after Arkansas. We need the fans screaming and yelling. This is a huge game for us.”
Arkansas has won three straight games against South Carolina and five of the past six in the series. It includes a 41-20 win at South Carolina in 2010.