Arkansas got a double dose of bad news on the injury front following the Auburn game including the loss of senior center Frank Ragnow.
It was known following the game that freshman running back Chase Hayden was likely done for the season after he was seen limping off the field early in the second quarter following a 40-yard run. But Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema announced on Monday that Ragnow suffered a high-ankle sprain in the game and is out for the season.
“The big news is Frank Ragnow unfortunately received basically a lower leg, a high ankle sprain,” Bielema said. “A pretty severe one that on Sunday we took a close look at it and has been confirmed now that he’ll be out for the rest of the year unfortunately. Sustained an injury that will probably need a procedure. The procedure that we’re looking into is about a 12-week recovery. It’s one unfortunate that it takes that long, but it has a great success rate.”
Bielema has gotten some feedback on Ragnow’s injury as far as the future beyond Arkansas.
“I talked to several people yesterday at the next level that have had guys that are playing at Pro Bowl level that really, they actually consider the surgery - like a major surgery would be ACL reconstruction, broken bone, some different surgeries that you guys know what I’m talking about,” Bielema said. “This is a minor procedure that has actually had high, high, high success rates. So our hope and pray for him is unfortunately he’ll miss the rest of his time with us. But should have a 12-week recovery and then be at full strength. The sad part is he’s playing actually unbelievable football. I’ve had a handful of offensive linemen drafted in the first round and he is at their level if not even higher. I’d put him at the same category that I’d put guys like Kevin Zietler, a guy who started as a true rookie freshman, first-round draft pick. Joe Thomas, obviously he just saw this past weekend.”
What did Ragnow do that made him such a good player and who will replace him?
“The thing about Frank is he’s an exceptional football mind, but he’s an exceptional athlete for a big guy,” Bielema said. “At 315 pounds, the way he runs, his genetics. His ability to just bend, move, flex. And just his competitive nature is off the charts. Had several NFL people tell me during the course of this first seven weeks of the season he’s probably playing not just as the best interior lineman, but one of the best linemen in the country they’ve seen all year. So he’s playing at a high, high level.
“He actually played one game at guard, which is probably a blessing in disguise that we got Zach Rogers in for that game. So Zach will take over at the center position. Also Jake Raulerson will as well. So got unfortunate news there and really, really just thoughts and prayers go out to those two guys in particular. Him and Chase, who were playing at a high level. Unforunately won’t be able to continue that.”
Hayden rushed twice for 42 yards and caught a 23-yard pass against Auburn. What kind of injury did he suffer?
“We did get confirmed that he had a lower leg fracture,” Bielema said. “It’s non-surgical, so he’ll need about four to six weeks to recover. Obviously it would put him out for our regular season. If we qualify for a bowl, he’d have a chance there. But he’d be out for the rest of it.”
Arkansas also didn’t have the services of safety De’Andre Coley against Auburn due to an ankle injury. What is Coley’s status this week as well as fullback Kendrick Jackson who went home last week due to the death of his mother?
“De’Andre Coley, got a chance for him to come back this week,” Bielema said. “We brought him with us to the hotel. He actually received treatments all weekend, doing everything he can to get back. Hope to get him back at some point this week, as well as (tight end) Jack Kraus. Kendrick Jackson. He came back last night - so have him back in the mix this week.”
Senior quarterback Austin Allen hasn’t played since the third quarter of the South Carolina game due to a shoulder injury. What kind of chances for you to get Allen back this week?
Austin Allen, you guys keep asking the questions,” Bielema said. “He maybe threw it right underneath your nose. He was throwing Saturday out on the field. I don’t know if no one caught it with all the cameras in today’s world. But he’s been throwing. If there is a chance for him to play on Saturday, this Saturday, it’s been the best of any of them to this point. But Cole Kelley will get the majority of the workload, unless Austin really comes on strong at the end of the week. And see where we go from there.”
Bielema talked about when Ragnow actually got hurt and how he made it through the complete game.
“It was in the second quarter,” Bielema said. “As is the case a lot of times with ankle sprains, it’s something that, especially some of the guys that are as tough as Frank is, and as athletic as he is, it’s a lot more. I’ve seen a lot of times in my career where the next day it’s really, it swells in and takes place. And that’s exactly what happened.”
Ragnow was slated to play in the Senior Bowl. Any chance he is back for that?
“No, I don’t think there will be any chance in competition,” Bielema said. “We’re still working with different people on when and who will do the procedures. But if you say he gets the surgery done the first week of November, he’s got all of November, December and January. But I do think he’ll be able to make a pro day no problem. He’ll be able to make the NFL Combine, he’ll be able to answer all the questions that they have.
“And, again, there’s been a couple players brought to my attention by NFL personnel, I talked to a couple GMs yesterday, that they have guys on their roster right now that have had the surgery done. It’s a procedure that back in the day, 10 to 15 years ago, a high ankle sprain can linger on and give you lingering effects for months and years. This procedure they’re doing now is something that has had high, high results from running backs, safeties and of course linemen.”
Bielema also said that sophomore T.J. Hammonds will play exclusively running back now. He had spent most of the season at wide receiver, but was a running back at Joe T. Robinson High School in Little Rock and as a freshman last season. He will be working with Devwah Whaley and David Williams.
“Excited to get the ball in his hands,” Bielema said. “He has not been healthy. He really hasn’t. He had a meniscus tear, had surgery. A simple, clean procedure, but it set him out for 2-4 weeks at the beginning. Literally, we had a couple plays designed to get the ball in his hands I think against A&M, might have been South Carolina and literally got his foot stepped on Wednesday late in practice that curtailed him from really playing in that game. That lingered into the next week just being able to practice full-go.
“He’s back healthy now. He was bright eyed and bushy tailed when I called him this morning. He had a 9:40 class and I said, ‘Can I see you before?’ and he was at my door in like five minutes. He was like Superman. I think he’s excited to get out there.”
Arkansas will face Ole Miss on Saturday at 11 a.m. on the SEC Network. In addition it has been announced that Arkansas’ homecoming game against Coastal Carolina will kickoff at 3 p.m. and be televised on the SEC Network.