Hillis Likely Out For Season
The Razorbacks likely lost the SEC's leading scorer, true freshman running back Peyton Hillis, for the rest of the season.
Trainer Dean Weber said Hillis fractured "three transverse processes" -- small bones attached to the vertebrae -- during the second quarter of the Hogs' 45-30 loss in Gainesville. Florida defensive end Joe Cohen hit the Conway native on the left side of his lower back, forcing Hillis out of the game with what was initially diagnosed as a bruised back and kidney.
Weber said the average timetable for recovery is 6 to 8 weeks.
There's a small chance Hillis could return in late November or a bowl game.
"It's a sad thing," Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said. "He can't get a redshirt. He can't get medical (redshirt). We lose a good football player."
Weber said transverse process injuries are "one of the last things you suspect" when a player sustains a blow to the lower back. In fact, Weber couldn't remember treating anyone with three fractured at the same time in his 32 seasons at Arkansas.
The rare injury doesn't require surgery, isn't career-threatening and has nothing do do with the spinal column. But Weber said it has caused plenty of discomfort for Hillis since Saturday afternoon.
"It's painful," said Weber, who believes the pain should subside by the end of the week and will improve dramatically after 3 or 4 weeks. "You get a lot of spasms associated with that. He's very stiff and it's hard for him to lie down, hard for him to sit down, hard for him to do anything except kind of stand in one position."
Nutt said the loss also will be felt on the field.
Hillis leads Arkansas in touchdowns (6), is fourth in rushing (91 yards on 28 attempts) and is tied for third in receptions (9 catches, 74 yards) with receiver Carlos Ousley. The 6-foot-2, 240-pounder also returned four kickoffs for 82 yards and averaged 55.8 all-purpose yards a game.
"We were getting a little more (from Hillis) each game," Nutt said. "He could score. He's a great short-yardage back, great hands. He was just getting a feel for everything and just really coming on. That's a sad deal."
Nutt spoke to Hillis on Sunday and said the running back was "really down" about the injury.
Hillis doesn't qualify for a medical redshirt because he has played in five games.
Junior De'Arrius Howard will take over as Arkansas' goal line and short-yardage back, a job he handled the past two seasons. The Hogs also will count on juniors Dedrick Poole and Kyle Dickerson to carry more of the load in passing situations.
"It's a big blow," said starting tailback DeCori Birmingham. "Peyton's a great kid. He came in with tremendous heart. All he wants to do is play football.
"We're going to miss Peyton and the passion he has for the game. But we're going to have to move on."
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