Wide receiver Jared Cornelius was pronounced ready to start by Bret Bielema on his Thursday night radio show. And, the sophomore wide receiver has some special duties, too. Bielema confirmed that Cornelius was good to go after Thursday's practice.
Cornelius has been out since the third week of the season with two broken bones in his lower arm. It was believed the recovery time was six weeks.
"Yeah, absolutely," Bielema said when asked if he would play. "He started practice two weeks ago. I sat down with the doctors and his mother this week and we got thumbs up all around.
"He'll return punts, kickoffs and start at wide receiver. We said it would be six weeks, but some guys are freaky athletes and some recover faster than others. He did."
Bielema also said fullback Kendrick Jackson, who missed last week with a concussion, was back in the starting lineup.
There was discussion about the four overtime victory over Auburn. Bielema said it was big because of the connections to Arkansas on the Auburn staff.
"We hung tight with Alabama and we couldn't close it out," Bielema said. "You are going to have to do something special to do that. We talked all week of where Auburn was two years ago and where we might go. So it was a big one personally and for the program, a big one for us."
Bielema said the focus this week is to do things right and the reward was a lighter load over the last few weeks in practice.
"We went over that and that if they did things and worked the right way, we could take things off of them a little," he said. "And, that's how it's worked out. I think our guys are locked in and ready."
That was obvious at Sunday's first meetings.
"We have some things we do on Sunday each week, some of it the contrast of hot and cold tubs," Bielema said. "I checked with Coach (Ben) Herbert and to try to get a gauge on how they were and he said, 'Coach, they are amped up more than I've seen them all week.' So we were locked in for this week.
"We know UT-Martin has a good team. They are 5-2, 4-1 in their league and have won four straight. They are well coached on offense, defense and special teams."
Bielema discussed the week with Rawleigh Williams, the injured running back. He called his surgery Saturday night "major neck surgery." But he said when he got to him Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. the freshman was"smiling" and encouraging to others about his future.
"We are told that he might be back on a limited basis in the spring," Bielema said. "Obviously, that will be his decision.
"One of the amazing things, when I called the hospital after taking care of some recruiting, his dad said, 'We've already talked to his professors about Monday.' I told him that we won't worry about Monday. He was by my office Monday morning and I found out that he attended all of his classes on Tuesday."
Bielema said he's still excited about the prospects at that position, although Williams will be missed the rest of the year.
"I think what you have to say about the Auburn game and everyone talks about all of the great calls, we wouldn't have won it without players and I'm talking about the big, fresh legs of Kody Walker," Bielema said. "I was talking to him last week about him coming back. I saw him at practice with these massive thigh pads. It reminded me of Earl Campbell and I told him that. Of course, he hadn't ever heard of Earl Campbell.
"I'm not sure we would have been able to get a win, quite honestly, without Kody. I think with Kody and Alex Collins, and a couple of others, we can do some special things down the stretch."
The couple of others would be Denzell Evans and Juan Day. Day is coming off two ACL surgeries and practiced with contact two weeks ago during the bye week for the first time since spring surgery.
"It's been six months for J-Day," Bielema said. "That's what they say about the recovery time. I saw him make two runs in middle drill in the bye week and he hit them very well. I brought him in to show him those and talk about this week. He's practiced this week without the knee brace and I think he may see action this week."