Mitchell Undergoes Knee Surgery

Arkansas defensive tackle Ernest Mitchell won't play Saturday against No. 12 Florida and will miss substantial time beyond. Mitchell had arthroscopic surgery performed on his left knee on Wednesday after suffering an injury in Arkansas' 52-10 loss last Saturday at No. 7 Texas.

Defensive tackles coach Bobby Allen said Mitchell, a senior teammates call a leader, "kind of got dinged" in the first half and didn't return for the second half. Allen said he understood that Mitchell tore his lateral meniscus.

In a statement, Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said he hoped Mitchell "could return at some point this season."

"Everyone is different as far as how fast they heal," Allen said. "I've heard anything from 4-6 weeks, but we'll just have to take it from week-to-week and just see how he progresses."

If Mitchell can't return, he could apply for a medical redshirt. But coaches anticipate him returning. In the meantime, another true freshman gets thrust into the starting lineup. Allen said freshman Zach Stadther would start and senior Cord Gray would back up Stadther.

Arkansas defensive coordinator Willy Robinson said he envisioned the two tackles balancing time.

"(They're) not quite as athletic (as Mitchell), but very reliable," Robinson said. "They do exactly what they're coached to do, and to be honest with you, they're playing pretty darn good."

Stadther, who played at North Little Rock High, had two tackles in Saturday's game, including one that went for a loss. Robinson said Stadther has "done a great job" and seemed pleased with his continued progress, especially since "he got home sick" earlier this season.

Stadther was on the field for 30 plays in the Texas game and said he felt ready to start.

"I thought I was going to get redshirted to be honest with you," Stadther said. "I just came out here, worked my way up from fourth string all the way to first string now, I guess. I'm happy to be where I'm at right now."

Linebacker Competition

Junior Wendel Davis appears to be in line to start Saturday. Davis, who can play middle and weakside linebacker, tied for a second-best six tackles — all solo stops, a team-high — in a reserve role in Saturday's game.

Robinson said Davis, who was suspended for the Hogs' first two games, had a "great game for us last week."

"He flew around and played full-speed," Robinson said. "Because of (all of the) repetitions, I think he sees himself being in a competitive situation, and all of a sudden his practice tempo has really stepped up."

Robinson said that sophomore Freddy Burton would start at strongside linebacker and that Davis, redshirt freshman Jerry Franklin and senior Elston Forte were battling for two starting spots.

Robinson did answer in a telling way, though, to a question asking if he saw Davis starting on Saturday.

"Oh yes," he said, "very much so."

Quick Hitters

• Sophomore defensive end Damario Ambrose, the backup to junior Adrian Davis, returned to practice on Wednesday after missing Tuesday's workout because of an undisclosed injury. "We didn't think we'd have him back this soon," Allen said. "We'll see how he finishes or how he feels (today) after (Wednesday's) practice. But I'll tell you what, he came out and gave us effort."

• Robinson said he liked Stadther's humble attitude, an approach shared by many of his fellow freshman. "A lot of our freshmen sell themselves short sometimes. That's probably a good quality at this point in their career."

• Senior center Jonathan Luigs was named one of 30 candidates for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, an award judged on classroom, character, community and competition.

• Junior punter Jeremy Davis was named one of 164 semifinalists among all levels of college football for the Draddy Trophy, an award given based on academics and football ability.

Hawgs Daily Top Stories