McFadden's Ribs Hurt More Than He Let On

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas running back Darren McFadden isn't the type of player who uses an injury as an excuse, even if it's legitimate.

But coach Houston Nutt acknowledged Monday that the bruised ribs that McFadden suffered in late September might have bothered him more than the Heisman Trophy candidate wanted to admit.

McFadden said his ribs are no longer a problem as he prepares to face No. 23 South Carolina on Saturday night. But at one time, the injury hurt so much it was hard to ignore the pain.

"Those bruised ribs, it hurts very bad, so it does take a toll on you," McFadden said Monday afternoon. "(It's) something you try to keep out of your mind, but the pain is so bad, you can't just block it all the way out."

McFadden said he injured his ribs Sept. 22 when he took a hit on the first play of the second half of a 42-29 loss to Kentucky. He has continued to play, even though it has been apparent at times that he's not at full strength.

McFadden was the nation's leading rusher after the first three games of the season (173.0 yards per game). But his average has dropped to 124.1 ypg., and he's no longer considered the front-runner to win the Heisman Trophy.

"Me personally, I don't feel like I've done enough to be worthy of top consideration," McFadden said. "But by (Heisman experts) saying I'm slipping, I'm not really concerned because I don't feel like I came onto the Heisman scene until around this time last season."

McFadden rushed for only 61 yards on 19 carries in last Saturday's 58-10 win over Florida International, though he scored a career-high four touchdowns.

It was the second time in three weeks that the junior has failed to rush for more than 100 yards in a game. McFadden had a season-low 43 yards rushing in a 9-7 loss to No. 19 Auburn on Oct. 13.

"He's such a tough guy, doesn't complain very much, always wanting to practice, wanting to be out on the field. So it's hard sometimes to get a read (on his health)," Nutt said.

"But all we can go by is X-rays and the doctors and Darren, and he's ready to go. So we didn't give him the ball as much those next few weeks once we knew that he'd been hit a little bit. But hopefully, he's ready to go now.

"... Hopefully, he'll be almost 100 percent during the last stretch of the season."



Monk's Soreness

Nutt said Monday that Arkansas wide receiver Marcus Monk experienced some soreness in his surgically repaired right knee following last Saturday's win over Florida International.

But Nutt said the soreness shouldn't be a problem for Monk, who's expected to have a bigger role in Saturday's game against South Carolina.

"He'll be ready to go Tuesday. He had some soreness, naturally," Nutt said. "We expected him to be sore, but nothing he can't handle and I think it's given him a great deal of confidence."

Monk, seeing his first significant playing time of the season last Saturday, caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Nathan Emert toward the end of the first half.

Monk finished with two catches for 19 yards and one score against FIU.



Cleveland's Absence

Arkansas tight end Ben Cleveland was noticeably absent from last Saturday's Homecoming game against FIU.

Because of a misunderstanding with Arkansas equipment manager Tim Cheney, Cleveland was not given his jersey or allowed to stand on the sidelines during the 58-10 win.

Cleveland, a former Springdale High star, is redshirting this season because of nerve damage in his neck. He has attended other games this season, standing on the sideline with Arkansas' other players.

Rick Cleveland, Ben's father, said Monday that his son was upset and went to his dorm room for the first half of the FIU game. An usher at Reynolds Razorback Stadium let Cleveland sit in the stands after halftime, his father said.

"Houston called Ben, I think it was on Sunday, and apologized to him," Rick Cleveland said. "(He) said that it won't happen again, and if it does, just come to him."



On TV

Arkansas officials announced Monday evening that Saturday's game against No. 23 South Carolina in Reynolds Razorback Stadium will be televised by ESPN2. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Officials also announced that the Nov. 10 game between Arkansas and No. 24 Tennessee in Knoxville will be shown on Lincoln-Financial Sports. Kickoff has been set for 11:30 a.m.

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