Hogs be­gin fall drills

Bielema pleased with Ra­zor­backs’ en­ergy in 2½-hour work­out.

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Bret Bielema TOM MUR­PHY

FAYET­TEVILLE — Bret Bielema gave a thumbs up to the Arkansas Ra­zor­backs’ first foot­ball prac­tice of train­ing camp Thurs­day, a 2½-hour work­out in hel­mets and shorts in tem­per­a­tures that reached the high 80s.

“Ob­vi­ously, the first day they’re fly­ing around with good tempo,” Bielema said. “We caught a lit­tle bit of a break on the front end. … It was cooler than we ex­pected and our guys han­dled the weather pretty good.”

The Univer­sity of Arkansas, Fayet­teville opened camp ear­lier this sea­son for sev­eral rea­sons.

Not only are the Ra­zor­backs sched­uled to be­gin the sea­son two days be­fore most of col­lege foot­ball, but NCAA leg­is­la­tion out­law­ing two-aday prac­tices with con­tact work has in­creased the time needed to get in the full al­lot­ment of 29 prac­tices.

Arkansas’ sea­son opener is on Aug. 31 against Florida A&M of the FCS at War Memo­rial Sta­dium in Lit­tle Rock.

Bielema said the vet­eran play­ers and start­ing units had very few er­rors and were “locked in” while the sec­ond team pre­sented a “mixed bag” of re­sults.

The Ra­zor­backs had very few ball se­cu­rity prob­lems with their older play­ers, but Bielema said there were a cou­ple of cen­ter-quar­ter­back ex­change is­sues with younger play­ers.

The first 20 min­utes of the prac­tice — a cou­ple of spe­cial teams pe­ri­ods and a cou­ple of sep­a­rated team run-through pe­ri­ods — were open to the

me­dia on the Ra­zor­back prac­tice fields con­nected to the Walker Pavil­ion.

Se­nior safety Josh Lid­dell had an in­ter­cep­tion dur­ing team pe­ri­ods, Bielema said, and tight end Cheyenne O’Grady was a stand­out.

“In years past, I’ve had to yell at him a cou­ple of times, so I think he did some good things and didn’t stand out for the wrong rea­sons,” Bielema said of O’Grady, a sopho­more from Fayet­teville.

“Him and Grayson Gunter … are go­ing to be a nice lit­tle com­ple­ment to each other with Austin [Cantrell].”

Bielema also praised tight ends Will Gragg and Jeremy Pat­ton, as well as run­ning back David Wil­liams, a grad­u­ate trans­fer from South Carolina.

“David Wil­liams looks like he be­longs in the SEC and can be a good player in our pro­gram,” Bielema said.

Safety San­tos Ramirez made a cou­ple of good plays, Bielema said, and cor­ner­back Ryan Pul­ley had a pass breakup.

Bielema said he had not heard the Ra­zor­backs had been picked to fin­ish fourth in the SEC West.

“That’s news to me,” he said. “Again, I love to read about things at the end of the year, not the start of the year. I’ve said that com­ing off

a pro­gram that had won two straight cham­pi­onships and a team that came out of 3-9, so if you voted for us, I guess thanks, but it doesn’t re­ally mat­ter.”

Bielema said the way the sched­ule lays out, play­ers stay­ing healthy and get­ting big con­tri­bu­tions from up­per­class­men will all play a role in how the Ra­zor­backs per­form.

“I think it’s about your se­niors play­ing well,” he said. “I think if there’s one thing that I’ve learned in this pro­fes­sion, es­pe­cially now in the SEC West, when your older play­ers that you’ve trained and de­vel­oped for 3 or 4 years to come in and play good foot­ball, when they play their best foot­ball of their ca­reer, we play

well. There are some great ex­am­ples of that since I’ve been here all over the place.”

Arkansas will work in hel­mets again to­day in prac­tice No. 2 of 29 be­fore the start of school, then add light pads on Satur­day.

“We won’t scrim­mage, but it’ll be a sig­nif­i­cantly more phys­i­cal prac­tice, ob­vi­ously,” Bielema said. “We’ll go hard Mon­day and Tues­day. Tues­day will be the first day in pads.”

Bielema said Wed­nes­day’s prac­tice would fo­cus strongly on work for the devel­op­men­tal play­ers, Thurs­day would be tai­lored more to the vet­er­ans, and Fri­day would be a rel­a­tively light day be­fore the first ma­jor scrim­mage on Aug. 5.

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/DAVID GOTTSCHALK

is en­ter­ing his fifth sea­son as the Arkansas Ra­zor­backs’ head coach. Bielema led Arkansas to a 7-6 record in 2016 and an ap­pear­ance in the Belk Bowl against Vir­ginia Tech. Arkansas opens the sea­son Aug. 31 against Florida A&M at War Memo­rial Sta­dium in Lit­tle Rock.

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/DAVID GOTTSCHALK

Arkansas se­nior quar­ter­back Austin Allen, a pre­sea­son All-SEC third-team se­lec­tion, threw 25 touch­down passes last sea­son.

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