By Otis Kirk
FAYETTEVILLE — Junior wide receiver Treylon Burks is healthy and that could be bad news for Texas.
Burks struggled some in the season opener against Rice after missing a lot of practice time due to an injury. He finished with five receptions for 42 yards and minus-two yards rushing after being targeted nine times. But the news was better on Monday from Sam Pittman.
“It’s been in coaching for a long, long time, and probably anything in life, if you don’t do it on a regular basis, it’s hard to go and perform at your peak,” Pittman said. “That’s what happened with Burks. We were hoping with a little of Wednesday and all of Thursday, that he would come out and play really well. He didn’t, and he’ll say that. It’s not his fault. He was hurt. He’s practicing today, and he’s practicing all week. He came out of the game very healthy.”
Rice Coach Mike Bloomgren was pleased with how the Owls defended Burks on Saturday.
“We knew what a great player he was and all the talk all week had been whether he’d play or not,” Bloomgren said. “Yesterday we heard for sure he was going to play and I don’t know if he was 100% or not, that’s a question for him or the Arkansas coaches. We knew we had to put an APB on him, he’s an All-American for a reason, he’s a really good football player and we wanted to know where he was and have a great plan, and I think Brian Smith had a great plan for him. There were a couple exchange issues in the backfield where he maybe could’ve got out on some of the jet-sweep stuff, so I guess maybe sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.”
Following the game Saturday when Arkansas defeated Rice 38-17 Pittman was asked if Burks being rusty contributed to his subpar game (by Burks’ standards)?
“I would think he would be,” Pittman said. “He came back Wednesday. He played the first four periods. He did some indy’s, some fastball starts and then he did some routes on air. That’s all we did on Wednesday. Thursday, he came back and did what is our Thursday practice, which is about an hour and fifteen minutes long. He did the entire practice. I just asked Dave (Polanski), I said I don’t care if we’re playing the Green Bay Packers or Grove High School, is he healthy? He said yes, and I said, ‘Okay, if he’s healthy, we’re going to play him.’ He was rusty, I’m sure, and he was nerved up. We knew about him, but the nation didn’t a year ago. All the sudden, all these publications started coming out that he’s a first rounder, and he’s going up the deal and he’s all this. The guy hadn’t practiced a whole lot, I’m sure there was a lot of pressure on him, as well. We’ll see a much better Treylon Burks next week.”
Arkansas and Burks will return to the practice fields today. Arkansas and Texas will kickoff at 6 p.m. Saturday night on ESPN.