FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The plug is pulled on the “Fridge.”
Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said Tuesday that offensive tackle Shawn Andrews will not play in the Independence Bowl on Dec. 31 against Missouri.
Andrews, a 6-foot-5, 370-pound junior, is a two-time All-American and was a finalist for the Lombardi and Outland trophies. Occasionally this season, the Razorbacks used Andrews as a blocking back in short-yardage situations, conjuring memories of former Chicago lineman William “Refrigerator” Perry.
Earlier in the week, Andrews said a sinus infection had bothered him most of the season and flared up in the final few weeks. After the Razorbacks’ 55-24 loss to Louisiana State on Nov. 28, Andrews saw a doctor. Nutt said Andrews went to see a specialist in Little Rock this week and called Nutt on Tuesday morning to tell him he would not play.
Arkansas players said Andrews’ absence would not deter from game preparation.
“We know that whatever happens outside this facility stays out there,” senior wide receiver George Wilson said. “Even things that affect this team directly, we leave them outside this practice facility, outside the locker room. We don’t just allow some adversity to come in here and confuse us or distract us from what we’re here to do.”
Senior tailback Cedric Cobbs said he continued to have confidence in the offensive line without Andrews. Cobbs led the Southeastern Conference with 107.2 rushing yards per game and is ranked No. 20 in the nation.
“He’s an individual and we’re a team,” Cobbs said. “We’re going to let him do whatever he needs to do. We’re not going to worry about this. That has nothing to do with us.”
The Razorbacks won’t lose much size with their replacement. Sophomore Zac Tubbs, at 6-6, 351, will start in place of Andrews, Nutt said.
Nutt said Tubbs hasn’t been tested and will face a lot of pressure.
“When you lose a two-time All-American, that’s pretty tough, but the next guy has to step up,” Nutt said. “He hasn’t played all that much this year, so we’ll have to see.”
Wilson said worrying about the loss of Andrews will do no good.
“We’re still a team, we’ve still got people around us and we’re going to continue to keep working hard and not worry about other people’s problems,” Wilson said. “That can’t help us as a team.”
In the past month, the Razorbacks have lost several players.
Junior fullback Mark Pierce left the team after the regular season to concentrate on preparing for the NFL. Pierce started six games for Arkansas and had 177 rushing yards. Senior linebacker Jimarr Gallon was dismissed from the team Nov. 20 after being arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Gallon, a senior, made 50 tackles in nine games this season.
One player in trouble with the law earlier this season has returned to the team. Sophomore linebacker Sam Olajubutu was suspended for Arkansas’ game against Mississippi State after his DWI arrest Nov. 16. He did not start against LSU but has practiced with the first team this week.