FAYETTEVILLE - The Razorbacks have a cornerback and a defensive tackle with questionable availability against Mississippi State Saturday but at least their defensive coordinator should be coordinating.
Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said Monday it can be better ascertained during the week if cornerback David Gordon (foot injury) and defensive tackle Zach Stadther ("tweaked knee," Petrino said) will be sufficiently recovered from injuries during last Saturday's 56-20 victory over Troy to play in Saturday's 11:20 a.m. SEC-TV televised SEC West game at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
He's already ascertained defensive coordinator Willy Robinson will be on hand and believes middle linebacker Wendel Davis, withheld versus Troy because of an ailing shoulder, will play against Mississippi State.
An infection and accompanying dehydration caused Robinson to be rushed by ambulance last Friday from the Broyles Center to Washington Regional Medical Center. Robinson convalesced at home last Saturday night while the Razorbacks were in Reynolds Razorback Stadium trouncing Troy.
Robinson was back on the job Sunday, Petrino.
"Willy came in yesterday for a little while," Petrino said during his weekly Monday press conference. "I tried to get him home as quick as I could, but he stayed in and watched the video. He's been here all day today, and I think he's feeling pretty good. We'll try to make sure we get him home tonight earlier than normal."
So he anticipates Robinson coaching Saturday at War Memorial Stadium?
"I would anticipate he would," Petrino said. "He's ornery enough to, that's for sure. It's hard to get him out of the building."
Although the second youngest on the defensive staff, linebackers coach Reggie Johnson, who assisted Petrino at Louisville, was the coach Petrino tabbed to call the defense in Robinson's absence.
"Reggie did a real nice job," Petrino said. "I thought the entire defensive staff and players accepted the challenge and really prepared well after the fact when Willy was out."
Sophomore Jerico Nelson, the maybe not as tall as listed 5-10 linebacker/safety with the big 12-tackles/2 pass breakups game against Troy, implied Johnson used a little reverse psychology to put the Hogs at pregame ease.
"Before the game," Nelson said, "he had everybody hyped and he asked us a question. 'Are you all nervous?' Nobody said anything. And he said, 'Well, I'm nervous.' And he just smiled and all of us got ready for the game. It motivated us to say he was nervous just like us. And we went out and every call he said was right."
Nelson and even smaller Michael Smith, the maybe not as tall last year listed 5-7 running back, made the two biggest hits against Troy. Fans have become the explosions from the battles of Jerico on defense, but Smith became an explosive tackler when quarterback Ryan Mallett threw an interception after 141 consecutive passes without a pick.
"After the game," Nelson said, "me and Mike actually talked about it. We smiled and he said, 'Now I know what it's like to be small person and make a big hit."
ESPN announced Monday it will televise Arkansas' regular-season finale versus LSU at 6 p.m. on Nov. 28 in Baton Rouge, La.
At a bowl-eligible 6-4, the Razorbacks should be playing somewhere postseason. They believe that somewhere will be a better bowl if they can finish SEC West strong against Mississippi State, 4-6, and 10th-ranked LSU, 8-2.
"We are bowl eligible now," quarterback Ryan Mallett said, "and it's a great feeling. But we are going to prepare for Mississippi State like it's the Super Bowl. If we are going to win out - that's our goal - right now it starts with Mississippi State."