Arguably not the second coming of the Knile Davis injury, but nevertheless according to Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino, the Hogs have suffered another big injury loss. Per the Arkansas Traveler:
Arkansas senior defensive end Jake Bequette will miss the Alabama game Saturday because of a nagging hamstring injury, coach Bobby Petrino said.
“He made huge improvement throughout the whole week, but he didn’t’ quite get ready to practice, so he’ll be out this week,” Petrino said. “I’m encouraged with how much improvement he made. Hopefully he’ll be back next week.”
Hamstring injuries tend to be ongoing and of an open-ended nature, constantly at risk of being easily re-injured, and it seems that Arkansas has made the conscious decision to hold Bequette out this weekend in hopes of getting (and keeping) him healthy for the stretch run of what figures to be a brutal remaining schedule for the Hogs (Texas A&M in Dallas plus eight conference games). I suppose it's possible that Bequette looks solid in warmups this weekend and actually plays, but I tend to doubt that happens.
Losing Bequette could be a big loss for the Hogs. He was a preseason All-SEC pick, and he led Arkansas in sacks a year ago. By all accounts, most people consider him the best defensive lineman in the rotation, arguably even the best player on the defense as a whole, and his absence makes for a difficult problem for Arkansas given an already shaky depth situation at defensive end. Chris Smith will play in his place, opposite Tenarius Wright, but true freshmen look to be forced into action behind those two players. The interior of the Arkansas defensive line still looks strong, but end could be a serious issue at this point.
For Alabama, given all of the woes that the Tide has recently had from the offensive line, you take any help any way you can get it in order to hopefully alleviate pressure being placed on a potential weakness. Having said that, however, most of the problems on the interior line have come from the center and the guards, and not the tackles, so arguably this loss for the Hogs at defensive end might not make a major impact given the Tide's relative strength at tackle.
In any event, though, Arkansas will apparently be without the services of Bequette this Saturday, and at least on some level that ought to make for somewhat of an easier path to victory for the Tide. If nothing else, hopefully this makes for an easier afternoon for A.J. McCarron.