|Harrison's suspension latest jolt to Arkansas defensive front|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 27 August 2007 13:26|
Arkansas' defensive line will have a new look Saturday night when the No. 21 Razorbacks open the season against Troy. Senior Chris Wade was picked to start at defensive end Monday in Harrison's place, becoming the latest player to move up the depth chart.
Wade missed some practice earlier this month because of a concussion, but coach Houston Nutt says before that he was impressive. Wade returned to practice more than a week ago.
``He disrupted the line of scrimmage. He was in the backfield, very quick, had a lot of confidence, he's strong - until the concussion,'' Nutt said. ``Since then, he hasn't been the same, but hopefully this week he'll get back.''
Arkansas knew all along its defensive line would undergo changes. Jackson was a senior last year and is now with the St. Louis Rams. Anderson left school after his junior season and was a first-round draft pick of the Atlanta Falcons in April.
Those losses were significant enough. Then in March, Robinson was arrested on a shoplifting charge and Harrison went down with a severe knee injury. Both players were still expected to contribute, but Robinson is now listed as a backup at defensive end, and Harrison was suspended indefinitely after Friday night's arrest that included a drug charge.
Robinson had 8 1/2 sacks and started 13 games last season, but defensive line coach Tracy Rocker said recently Robinson wasn't practicing well enough to start this year's opener. Robinson's role doesn't appear to have changed after Harrison's suspension.
``Antwain Robinson right now is in a backup role,'' Nutt said Monday. ``Hopefully all these guys will go to another level.''
Adrian Davis, a converted linebacker, is expected to start opposite Wade at defensive end. Malcolm Sheppard and Ernest Mitchell are the tackles. Unlike the new ends, Sheppard and Mitchell have started before - Mitchell started nine games and Sheppard two in 2006.
Harrison started five games at defensive tackle as a junior last year. He was listed as a starter at defensive end before the arrest Friday - his rehabilitation from a torn anterior cruciate ligament had gone well.
``We're very disappointed,'' Nutt said. ``We spend a lot of time talking about decision making - especially one of our seniors, one of our older guys. ... He was really looked up to, really respected by our younger guys - had just done so much work in the rehab to come back this far.''
Nutt said Harrison is not currently allowed to practice or be around the team. Harrison will definitely miss this first game, and Nutt says he's not sure what the punishment will be beyond that.
``We've got to get more information what's going on in the legal system,'' Nutt said. ``Right now, I don't have any attention, any energy or decision-making time on that subject whatsoever.''
A Fayetteville police report said an officer stopped Harrison on Friday night near his apartment. The officer reported a strong smell of marijuana coming from Harrison's car when he rolled his window down.
The officer asked Harrison to step out of the car. The police report said Harrison consented to a search and told the officer he had ``just a pill'' in a pocket of his cargo shorts. The officer reported finding a small plastic bag containing one blue Ecstasy pill.
An Arkansas athletic department policy on drug education and testing includes counseling and therapy, and trainer Dean Weber said that would apply in this case.
``Clearly it would,'' Weber said. ``There will be counseling, yes.''
Cornerback Matterral Richardson said the school tries to prevent players from falling into these types of situations.
``Dean Weber and coach Nutt, they preach hard about drugs and alcohol,'' Richardson said. ``We just want to come together closer as a team and learn from that mistake - which it was - and just let the younger guys know that he made a mistake. Everybody makes mistakes.
``It might not be to that extent, but everyone makes mistakes. You have to move on - learn from your mistakes and move on.''