FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas put the finishing touches on its strategy for its Southeastern Conference opener Saturday at Alabama with a 90-minute workout Thursday afternoon.
Razorback starting quarterback Clint Stoerner continued his gradual return from a right (throwing) shoulder separation he suffered in the Hogs’ 44-6 win over Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday. “It felt a lot better today,” Stoerner said. “I put a little something on (my passes) today and threw with less pain.”
“It was his best day yet,” UA head coach Houston Nutt said. “He threw the ball with velocity, went through all the handoffs and felt good.”
Though pleased with Stoerner’s recuperation, starting him or 23-year-old redshirt freshman Robbie Hampton will be a game-time decision by Nutt and Director of Athletic Training Dean Weber. “He was a lot better today and we’re encouraged,” Weber said. “He did everything we planned on him doing. If he does well pre-game, it will be Houston’s call as far as what he does with him.”
If cleared to start against the Crimson Tide, Stoerner will have no problem playing with the injury. “I think the excitement and the adrenaline will take care of itself and I know it will take care of the discomfort.”
Nutt plans to give Hampton playing time regardless of who takes the Hogs’ first snap. “The way Robbie looks right now, he’s definitely going to get some playing time,” Nutt said. “We owe it to him.”
Despite Hampton’s having thrown just four collegiate passes, Hampton – a former minor-league baseball player – has the complete confidence of his teammates. “He just needs to concentrate, play like he does out here (on the practice field) and not go out there worrying about making mistakes,” Stoerner said. “The coaches, the players have full confidence in him and he’s doing a great job out here.”
Although Hampton’s first start could come against one of the most storied programs in college football, he regrets it took an injury for him to get his chance. “I’m excited about the opportunity,” Hampton said. “I’m just not excited about the circumstances.”
On another injury note, linebacker J.J. Jones practiced again Thursday with a cast protecting his broken left hand. “He’s doing a lot better,” Weber said. “He hasn’t seen a lot of contact, but he’s getting a feel for it.”
The eligibility of split end and junior college transfer Eddie “Boo” Williams remained in question after the Hogs’ practice. According to Nutt, UA expected to learn more about Williams’ status late Thursday or early Friday.
No. 14 Arkansas (2-0, 0-0 SEC) will try for its third-straight win over Alabama (2-1, 0-1 SEC) and third-consecutive victory at Tuscaloosa when the Hogs and Crimson Tide meet Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Kickoff is set for 2:32 p.m. CT on CBS Sports.