Gilbow, Garner Battling For Right Tackle Spot

FAYETTEVILLE -- The tough task of finding a replacement for junior right tackle Zac Tubbs began in earnest Wednesday afternoon for the Razorbacks.

Redshirt freshmen Matt Gilbow (6-foot-6, 315 pounds) of Jonesboro and Nate Garner (6-6, 315) of Roland are competing for Tubbs' job after the Arkansas starter was lost for the season with a broken leg suffered in practice Tuesday.

Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said Wednesday Gilbow got "most of the work" at right tackle and Garner got "a lot" as well.

Garner has been the backup right tackle all season while Gilbow has been backing up Tony Ugoh at left tackle.

That makes the challenge for Gilbow a little tougher, but he said the open date will give him all the time he needs to make the adjustments.

"I feel pretty comfortable," Gilbow said. "There's a few different steps, but I think I can do it."

Garner said he feels like he knows all his assignments but will rely heavily on right guard Gene Perry and tight end Jared Hicks for guidance.

Both said they are ready to become starters overnight after Tubbs was injured in a freak pile-up.

"It's what you have to expect from an offensive lineman's standpoint," Gilbow said. "You're in there and there's people all around you getting thrown around. There's no telling what's going to happen. You have to be ready to go in."

Said Garner: "They tell us every day to be ready. We're one play away. It's always be ready, know what you're supposed to do and do it."

Offensive line coach Mike Markuson said both are hard workers and have the physical tools to play in the Southeastern Conference but lack the all-important experience.

"It's time for them," Markuson said. "You're always wondering what a guy's going to do that hasn't really played a whole bunch. But it's the best thing for them. Once you start playing in the game, you see the real speed and the atmosphere of it and it gets easier. That's the biggest thing right now."

Markuson said the offensive line has been introduced to the looks it will see from No. 6 Auburn on Oct. 16 and he believes either Gilbow or Garner will get the job done.

He said it's too soon to say if either has an edge yet over the other.

"I hope it's not a setback," Markuson said. "I hope someone steps up and we go forward and continue to get better as a team. You can't look at it that way."

Both Garner and Gilbow missed out on their repetitions in their redshirt season after both had shoulder surgery last fall.

Garner said he feels caught up in his conditioning work but isn't as strong as he could be after missing a season's worth of strength training.

The staff is also training backup left guards Robert Felton and Chase Pressley at the tackle spot for emergency purposes.

"It's just a pain," Markuson said of the extra teaching required when players change positions. "It's something you have to be ready to do. Hopefully it doesn't come down to that. But you always have to have Plan C."

HOUSTON IMPROVING, ROBINSON RETURNS
Redshirt freshman cornerback Chris Houston, who has missed the last two games with a high ankle sprain, said he's "97 percent" recovered from the injury suffered against Louisiana-Monroe and will be ready for Auburn on Oct. 16.

Arkansas linebacker Michael Robinson, who suffered a seizure before practice Sept. 8 and was in intensive care for four days, returned to the practice field Wednesday for some light work and said he's putting back some of the 20 pounds he lost during his illness. "I'm really grateful to get a second opportunity so I'm counting my blessings," he said. "Just being back out here with all my brothers, it's put a lot of pep back in my step."

Skye Peterson, who broke his hand in the preseason, worked at first-team center Wednesday in place of starter Kyle Roper, who is still dinged up from the Florida game.

Hawgs Daily Top Stories