Arkansas sophomore offensive lineman Dan Skipper is well aware of the damage his tripping penalty caused in wiping out a 57-yard run by teammate Jonathan Williams that in essence could have been a knockout punch in Saturday’s game with Texas A&M.
He’s also aware of what great teammates and coaches – like quarterback Brandon Allen and head coach Bret Bielema - he has because of their reaction to him after one of the plays that allowed the Aggies to come back and win 35-28 in overtime.
“Teammates have been huge, the offensive linemen especially,” a downtrodden Skipper said Wednesday after practice. “Really loving caring guys. Everybody has reached out. Everyone has reached out, offense, defense, Brandon, Coach B, everyone. Everyone has been there for me. Everyone has been there when I needed them.”
Skipper (6-10, 320), who also had a holding penalty that wiped out an earlier score, met the media on Wednesday to talk about the trying ordeal.
“It's kind of been a day by day approach,” Skipper said. “I have talked to Coach B a fair amount, try to come out there and play as clean as I possibly can from now on.”
He made it clear that he was owning up to his mistakes.
“Definitely,” Skipper said. “ I pride myself on being a winner. I hate losing. There is nothing fun about losing. Knowing I played an integral role in that, that sucks. I don't really know how else to say it.”
He plans to use the experience as a learning situation for the future.
“Aw, like that's all you can do is learn,” Skipper said. “You can't change it now. Just keep working this week and try to get better for the next time I come out there.”
Allen was quick to rally to Skipper’s defense and notes the lineman has the support of the entire team.
“He takes a lot of pride in how hard he works and what he does and if anyone was hurting the most, it was him,” Allen said. “He is a tough guy. He is going to bounce back. I am not worried about Dan one bit. He has showed in practice this week that he is playing with the same physicality that he always does. He is bringing the same things to the table.
“For a guy that works that hard, it is hard to fault for something where he was trying to make plays,” Allen added. “He has done a really good job of bouncing back and staying positive.”
Allen also made it clear he didn’t want Skipper losing his aggressiveness.
“I rather him be too aggressive than too soft so I am not worried about Dan at all,” Allen said. “He is a tough-minded kid, a tough kid in general. This is the first time that he has really kind of taken it hard on himself, but he has the support of the rest of his team in just knowing how hard he works, how much he cares and the support of this team is behind him.”
Skipper knows that his aggressive style – of right up to the whistle - has made him a marked man with refs.
“You know I guess I have earned the reputation I have,” Skipper said. “ I just have got to go out and get better next week. You just have got to play hard and stop (at the whistle) but that was not to the whistle, what I did was in between the whistle. So it's not the after the play stuff.”
Arkansas has a bye this week and then will play Alabama the following Saturday.
“Practice is practice,” Skipper said. “You have to show up every day with a clear mind and attack every day the best you can.”
The offensive line has been a strong point for the Razorbacks this season.
“We played pretty well as a group, went out there and gave it everything we had,” Skipper said. “The mistakes, right there every week, that doesn't change. From the first I have been here until today there are still mistakes at practice. Just got to get better and correct those mistakes and move on.”
Arkansas has now lost four straight SEC games in which its mistakes have aided the foes late.
“We just have to be mentally sharp and mentally focused,” Skipper said. “That was one of the focuses today. Period 20 we ran 16 plays shotguns snaps just boom, boom, boom getting them on the ball and get snapped and being sharp with everything we do offense, defense.”
Razorback Teammates Rally Around Skipper
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