Hog youngsters seeing time in bye week
FAYETTEVILLE - The Razorbacks concluded their open-date week practices with a Thursday workout completely closed to media.
Following the practice, Coach Chad Morris and the maximum number of assistants allowed on the recruiting road fanned out to take in various high school games for the weekend.
Arkansas, 2-3 overall, 0-2 in the SEC West, and its next
opponent, the Kentucky Wildcats, 2-3, 0-3 in the SEC East and also practicing through an open-date week, meet at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 12 at the Wildcats’ Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky.
Morris and his staff and the Razorbacks reassemble Sunday in Fayetteville launching game-week preparations for their trip to Lexington. Arkansas will follow its game-week routine of a workout Sunday, Monday as the NCAA mandated off day, and its most physical practices next Tuesday and Wednesday, and a completely closed light practice next Thursday before traveling next Friday to Lexington.
Morris said on Wednesday’s SEC teleconference that the Razorbacks have used the open date
week towards healing the injured, resting the overworked, and working everyone else hard, especially the young redshirts and seldomused reserves getting an October style head start on spring practice.
Ditto, says Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops.
“Probably a good time for us and our team to have a bye,” Stoops said on Wednesday’s SEC teleconference. “We have some players who need a little extra time to get healed up. Hopefully that’ll hit the reset button for us a little bit. We need to build on the good things we’re doing and improve in some areas. We have to heal up this week and also try to get ahead for Arkansas in two weeks. That’s the plan here for the open week.”
The Razorbacks have so relied in the interior defensive line on senior
starting tackles T.J. Smith, recognized by Pro Football Focus last week for his performance in Arkansas’ 31-27 SEC loss to threetouchdown favored Texas A&M, and Mctelvin “Sosa” Agim and fourth-year junior backup Jonathan Marshall and redshirt freshman
Isaiah Nichols, that freshman reserve tackles Marcus Miller, Taurean Carter and Enoch Jackson are redshirt eligible.
These open date practices showcased them.
“They’re coming along,” defensive tackles coach Kenny Ingram said. “They’re still growing and adjusting as freshmen, but they’re doing fine.”
Since under an NCAA rule adopted last year, a player can play up to four games and still be redshirt eligible, look for Miller to be worked into some of the season’s remaining seven
“He’s a guy that was a little bit ahead of some of the other guys coming in,” Ingram said. “We’re just looking for the right opportunity and right chance to get him some experience out there on the field.”
After a struggling game in the 34-27 loss to three-touchdown underdog San Jose State, true freshman nickel back Greg Brooks cashed a big-time game against Texas A&M, Arkansas defensive backfield coach Ron Cooper said.
Cooper came to Arkansas last year with defensive coordinator John “Chief” Chavis after serving on Chavis’ defensive staffs at LSU and Texas A&M.
“Greg has definitely gotten better,” Cooper said. “This last week was probably his best game. He had a hard game two games ago. We did some things technique
and fundamental- and alignment-wise to help last week and it totally helped. That position has been a position in this defense that’s been mastered by a couple of really good players. I’ve only played one as a true freshman and that’s Tyrann Mathieu (the Kansas City Chiefs defensive back called the “Honey Badger” during his Allamerican days at LSU). He played it and played it really well. Other than that, it’s taken some guys one or two years to get it.”
Treylon Burks, the 6-3, 223-pound true freshman from Warren, literally has played a big hand for these Razorbacks as a wide receiver (13 catches for 230 yards) and punt returner, 8 for 97 yards including breaking a 32-yard return against Texas A&M.
“He wears 5X gloves which I think we had to
order some for him,” receivers coach Justin Stepp said. “He’s got huge hands and he goes and attacks the ball. He does the same thing on punts.”
Burks catches punts so aggressively unorthodox that Stepp said he cringed the first times Burks returned them in practice.
“When he started returning punts in fall camp I was back there trying to coach my tail off and trying to get him fixed,” Stepp said. “And Coach Morris finally looked at me one day and said, ‘Hey, Stepp, just leave him alone.’ There were
NFL guys on the sideline at AT&T Stadium (the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium and site of last Saturday’s Arkansas vs. Texas A&M game) that were saying, ‘Man, I’ve never seen a human being catch it like that.’ And I said, ‘I haven’t either, but it works.”