Whenever Arkansas coach Bret Bielema uses the words “Austin” and “knee” in the same sentence, blood pressure is bound to go up for Arkansas fans.
Don’t panic: It’s not quarterback Austin Allen.
Bielema said during a news conference that “Austin” took a blow to the knee in the team’s second scrimmage of spring practice Saturday. “Austin got hit on the knee,” Bielema said. “We’ll check that out. It doesn’t seem to be anything structurally, just a bang-up right now.”
Immediately, thoughts turned to the Razorbacks’ starting quarterback. But as Bielema clarified several minutes later, the “Austin” wasn’t Austin Allen; instead, it was sophomore tight end Austin Cantrell.
Bielema did not specify what happened leading up to Cantrell’s injury. His knee issue is among a growing number of injuries for the Razorbacks, which have forced several major players to the sidelines.
Wide receiver Jared Cornelius injured a hamstring last week, Bielema said, and may be out of action for the rest of spring practice.
Running back Rawleigh Williams III, the SEC’s top rusher in 2016, sustained a “tweak” to his ankle.
Freshman defensive back Korey Hernandez, who impressed Bielema as soon as he arrived on campus, also has been out of action, though the coach said Hernandez is close to a return.
Even the team’s third Austin, defensive tackle Austin Capps, has been playing through pain after suffering what Bielema termed a “bruised butt” in practice after being pushed over a pile last Tuesday.
In non-injury news, Bielema was concerned by the offense’s high count in penalties – something he attributed in part to linemen getting thrown off by the different voices of Allen and backups Cole Kelley and Ty Storey.
“Every one of them has a little bit different inflection, a little bit different patience,” Bielema said. “No excuses. We’ve got to get it cleaned up, especially down in the red zone.”
Junior college transfer Michael Taylor, meanwhile, is catching the eye of Bielema, who said the defensive lineman has made a “big jump.”
“He plays fast, he’s got good hands, he’s a guy that can probably play our ‘hog’ or defensive end,” Bielema said. “He’s a versatile athlete and a playmaker. I’m excited watching him.”
Taylor was among the top performers in an active pass rush during the scrimmage, even though he wasn’t able to finish off the sacks as in a live game.
After all, the Razorbacks still have one fully healthy Austin – and Arkansas fans don’t even want to think about anything happening to him.
“If they got anywhere near Austin, I was probably blowing the whistle a little bit premature,” Bielema said. And this time, he was talking about Austin Allen.
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