SEC Admits Mistake On Sheppard Penalty

FAYETTEVILLE — The Southeastern Conference admitted Monday that Arkansas defensive tackle Malcolm Sheppard didn't warrant the personal foul penalty called late in last week's 23-20 loss at second-ranked Florida.

Toward the end of the play, Sheppard was flagged for hitting Florida offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert away from the action. But a TV replay shows that Sheppard hit Gilbert only after the offensive lineman tried running into him first.

The penalty gave the Gators a first-and-goal from the 10, and Florida's Jeff Demps ran for a touchdown on the ensuing play to tie the score at 20-20 with 7 minutes, 27 seconds remaining.

On the play before Sheppard's penalty, Arkansas cornerback Ramon Broadway was called for a questionable pass interference penalty.

"After video review, there was no evidence on the video to support the personal foul penalty called on Arkansas midway through the fourth quarter," the SEC said in the statement released Monday afternoon. "The other calls that were referenced are judgment calls and a review of those calls have been communicated to Arkansas."

Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said he spoke with Rogers Redding, the SEC's Coordinator of Football Officials, about the controversial penalties.

Petrino said he was also disturbed that Florida wide receiver Riley Cooper wasn't called for offensive pass interference on Arkansas cornerback Andru Stewart on the Gators' game-winning drive in the final minutes.

"There's not a lot of recourse. We do submit plays to the SEC just like we do every week," Petrino said. "Obviously, I called and talked to the director of the officials, but there's not a whole lot we can do about it."

Kicking Themselves

Despite missing two second-half field-goal attempts that proved costly, Arkansas kicker Alex Tejada's job appears safe.

Petrino admitted he doesn't have other options at kicker other than to stick with the former Springdale High star, who has been shaky throughout his career.

Tejada had made all seven of his field-goal attempts heading into last week, and the junior connected on a 22-yarder with no time left in the first half to give Arkansas a 10-3 lead.

But Tejada missed two of his next three field-goal attempts, a 40-yarder late in the third quarter and a 38-yard try with 3:08 remaining. He hooked one kick wide right and the other one wide left.

"We don't have a lot of options there," Petrino said of his kicking situation. "He's got to get better and kick it through the uprights."

Running It

Petrino said he had an idea last Wednesday that sophomore Dennis Johnson would start against Florida in place of the injured Michael Smith.

Smith was unable to play because of a hamstring injury suffered in a 44-23 win over Auburn on Oct. 10. Johnson filled in nicely, rushing for 107 yards, gaining 124 yards on kickoffs and catching one pass for 15 yards.

"I think he's doing better," Petrino said of Smith, whose status for Saturday's game at Ole Miss remains uncertain. "He was in here working (Sunday), working out and working with the trainers."

Petrino said Johnson was unable to finish the Florida game because he got "dinged up" after getting hit in the head. But Petrino added that Johnson should be fine.

"I've seen (Johnson) play for three or four years now. I know he's a great player, and he steps up," Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett said. "It seems like every time we play a big-time opponent, he always steps up and gives the team that extra little burst."

Adams Update

Petrino said he could tell by the "look in his eye" that Arkansas wide receiver Joe Adams is having a hard time not playing.

Adams has been sidelined since suffering what Petrino described as a mild stroke. But Petrino said there's still a chance that the sophomore could return to the field this season.

"I think there is, but I don't know the timetable right now," Petrino said. "All the testing since the episode has been very positive."

On The Tube

Kickoff for Arkansas' homecoming game against Eastern Michigan on Oct. 31 is set for 6 p.m. ESPNU will televise the game.

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