FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Junior Myron Cunningham is set to start at right guard on Saturday against Portland State in the season opener.
He’s also listed as the backup at left tackle behind senior Colton Jackson, who has missed some time with injuries. Joe Craddock, Arkansas’ offensive coordinator, is pleased to see Cunningham getting in the lineup. Arkansas’ goal was to get the five best offensive lineman on the field. Craddock was asked if he feels they have done that with Cunningham being at right guard?
“Yeah. I mean, I think so,” Craddock said. “Obviously, that’s why we’ve got him there. We would have loved to have had Noah Gatlin competing a little bit up front and getting some work, but I do feel our best five linemen are on the field in the starting lineup.
“I want to make sure, again, first game and this week in practice getting Colton back healthy and (left guard Austin) Capps back healthy, we’ve got to start developing that continuity and letting those guys play next to each other and make the calls on the run. Not just a pre-snap call, but making calls on the run is important. Especially this week.”
Capps, Jackson and Cunningham will be joined by junior center Ty Clary and sophomore right tackle Dalton Wagner. Craddock talked about a challenge Portland State creates with its defensive line.
“These guys do a lot of movement,” Craddock said. “They do a lot of twisting, a lot of things to try to disrupt your run game. And if you’re not on the same page, it can create some difficulties. So just developing that continuity in practice this week. We’re showing them a lot of different looks where they’ve got to make the calls on the run. Excited to start those guys and excited to see what they’ll do this year.”
Cunningham’s versatility has paid off this fall as he played all the positions on the offensive line except center.
“I think he’s a phenomenal player,” Craddock said. “I think about two weeks into camp he was reading y’alls clippings to much and for him to just stay the course, and just keep working and don’t be complacent, and be the guy that we brought him here to be. I think his ceiling is extremely high, I think he’s a phenomenal player, I think that hell be a guy that pro scouts will look at when it comes his time.
“He s everything that we thought he would be, very versatile like you said. He’s played a little bit of left guard in the spring, he played some right guard at fall camp and a played left tackle at fall camp. I think that shows you how smart he is and how well he picks up the offense and how he’s able to make the calls on wither side of the ball and use the proper technique on either side of the ball. Very excited about Myron and his future here.”
It appears that Jackson will be able to go though this week’s practices will determine that. Craddock is expecting him to play.
“Colton got a little bit of reps yesterday,” Craddock said Monday. “He’s slowly coming back from his foot injury. I fully expect him to be 100 percent come game time.”
A couple of true freshmen are on the two-deep depth chart released by Arkansas on Monday. Ricky Stromberg is at right guard and Beaux Limmer at center, both with the second unit.
“I feel really good. Ricky Stromberg is a dude,” Craddock said. “I love him. He’s a really good player for us. You know if you didn’t know any better, him wearing the number he’s wearing, it’s almost like having Hjalte (Froholdt) back out there, you know. Just a little lighter Hjalte. Not quite as big. He works his butt off. He run blocks well. He pass protects well. He’s very athletic. He gets to go up against Sosa every day, so it’s only making him better. Iron sharpening iron. And very, very impressed with Ricky.
“Beaux has done really good things. We’re really excited about Beaux as well. He’s been dealing with a little bit of a nagging small injury that’s just kind of limited him, if you want to say that, a little bit. They’re both really good players and if we had to put them on the field I’d feel pretty confident in both of those guys.”
Arkansas and Portland State will kickoff at 3 p.m. Saturday in Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.