Pressley Delivers For Hogs

The most exciting thought to come out of football practice the last two weeks while Arkansas worked through an open date to end a three-game losing streak centered on sleek, tall, fast Rod Coleman.

Arkansas coach Houston Nutt told us that the 6-foot-2 freshman from Camden was making a "play a day."

Many fans drooled at what Coleman might do to boost the ailing Arkansas vertical passing attack.

Those covering practices asked plenty of questions about Coleman possibly taking off his redshirt, but none about junior offensive guard Chase Pressley. The 6-4, 310-pounder from Fort Smith Southside not only started, but had plenty to do with Arkansas running through Louisiana-Monroe in a 44-15 victory on Saturday night at War Memorial Stadium.

Quick enough and fast enough to once start two games at defensive tackle, but never healthy enough to stay on the field on that side of the ball, Pressley had the night of his Razorback career against ULM.

With regular center Kyle Roper standing on the sidelines in street clothes with a sore knee and regular right guard John Luigs moving to center, Pressley took over at right guard. It was Pressley and left guard Stephen Parker pulling and leading the way on those inside counters and outside screen passes as freshman running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones danced through ULM's defense for 321 rushing yards.

Of course, with practices closed, no one knew Roper would be sidelined. Hence, Pressley's role was kept under wraps. We might have seen it coming the previous game against Alabama when Pressley took over in the fourth quarter for 25 snaps. He was in there on McFadden's 70-yard touchdown run that sparked an Arkansas rally.

"I've been waiting for this a long time," Pressley said. "This feels really good. They called my number tonight and I was excited to be able to help the team win."

Offensive line coach Mike Markuson said, "Chase did a nice job. He and I have gone round and round. But he's stepping up. He's grown up. He's still learning the position after moving over from the defensive line. He's got skills and he's physical.

"He's going to help us."

Pressley started at defensive tackle against Tulsa two years ago and then was in the game early the next week at Texas in the Hogs' upset victory.

But he sustained a severe ankle sprain at Austin and has struggled ever since.

"I haven't really played since then, until two weeks ago against Alabama," he said. "I think I did OK at Alabama."

Did he turn heads with his performance against ‘Bama?

"I hope so, but I don't know," he said. "I really never knew I was going to start tonight. I guess since I took the bulk of the snaps Wednesday and Thursday after Kyle hurt his knee Tuesday, maybe it was just understood.

"No one ever said anything."

Parker said no one worried about Pressley during the week or in the game.

"No busts, just solid play," Parker said of Pressley's performance. "We got those counters going where I pull and he pulls and that's our bread and butter. I think you can see that's right up his alley. We were going downhill with those things. Chase seized the moment tonight."

Pressley was just happy to get a chance to back on the field.

"I just want to thank coach Markuson for not giving up on me," Pressley said. "I'd come out there one day and not do very well. O-line is just so different and I wasn't getting it. He'd get on me and then encourage me to get back in there the next day. He got on me hard some days. That's good.

When they quit yelling at you, then you know they gave up on you. Coach Markuson didn't give up on me.

"I guess I'm just now growing up. I got down on myself for a while but now I'm headed in the right direction."

Like Stephen Parker said, it's all downhill for Chase Pressley now.

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