FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas coach Sam Pittman may have played Dominique Johnson's return perfectly.
A combination of hope and calculated plans now have given the Razorbacks a perfect chance to get last year's best running back on the field when things get serious.
Oh, that doesn't mean Missouri State. If the Hogs desperately needed Johnson before this weekend they probably could have pushed him back into the lineup.
Pittman may have figured they could beat Cincinnati and South Carolina without him. At the very least, he likely calculated the odds were pretty good for a couple of early wins.
All the time, Johnson has been rehabbing from a knee injury in the Outback Bowl win over Penn State on New Year's Day.
Pittman said Wednesday at his press conference the decision was up to Johnson on when he would return, but he had been cleared for a couple of weeks.
He said the same thing last week before the SEC opener against the Gamecocks, but the Hogs won a wild game, 44-30. Nobody really noticed Johnson wasn't there.
The result of all that is a 2-0 record, an FCS opponent and a chance for Johnson to ease his way back into live game action in a situation that's not going to be too challenging.
If Johnson trots into the lineup Saturday, the plan will have come together in the best possible scenario for Pittman.
With Texas A&M coming up next week, that's the start of a stretch of the schedule that's going to be a little more challenging. Nobody really wanted Johnson to get tested against a team that's not struggling on defense.
The Aggies' problem is on offense. Now Johnson can get hit a few times and some carries before going into that game.
Based on the injury rehab and other things, this might have been the plan all along.
Pittman's juggle may be set up perfectly to pay off when really counts.
• Want to join in on the discussion? Click here to become a member of the allHOGS message board community today!
• View and subscribe to the allHogs YouTube Channel