FAYETTEVILLE — University of Arkansas’ coordinators, Barry Odom on defense and Kendal Briles offensively, held a Zoom conference with the media on Wednesday and both feel the Hogs are making progress.
Briles has had the privilege of coaching several talented quarterbacks and was asked to compare them to Arkansas’ Feleipe Franks.
“I don’t want to compare any of those guys,” Briles said. “I think as a player you want to be your own person, and certainly those other guys have all been tremendous quarterbacks. I’m very fortunate to be around them. Those guys have played beyond college football. I think Feleipe and some of the things that he possesses that I really appreciate is his work ethic. He’s a guy that comes up here and studies the tape. He watches it by himself every day. He wants the installs before we ever have our meetings. I feel like he’s really starting to develop himself into having a leadership role.
“He’s very competitive. We got to see a little bit of that today in practice. You can talk about all that stuff, but he could be 5-9, 180 and slow and look like me, but he’s not. He’s 6-6, 240 pounds and he’s got a lot of God-given abilities that he’s blessed with, and he does not take them for granted. He continues to work and that’s what I appreciate so much about him. I’m very glad that we got him and really appreciate coaching the young man.”
No doubt one of the key targets for Franks this season will be sophomore wide receiver Treylon Burks. Odom, the former head coach at Missouri, paid Burks a big compliment as well remembering him from the game in Little Rock last November.
“Oh man, think of all the things that have happened since whatever day that was last year, late November,” Odom said. “You know, we played the 29th, 30th change happened. There’s a lot of stuff that has happened in the world, isn’t there, since then. The guy going into the game last year, we were ultra on alert for wherever number 16 was lined up. And now being around him and watching him compete, I’ve got even more respect for him because, number one, he is as talented as a guy I’ve gone against. He also, he works so hard, extremely hard every day. You’re going to get his best every single day, and my respect factor has… I know he was a good player last year game planning, but now seeing him live and up close and in person every day, I’ve got a lot of respect for the kid.”
Senior Rakeem Boyd is another standout on offense. The tailback opted to come back to Arkansas this season in an attempt to help lead them to a good record. Briles was asked who is looking good behind Boyd?
“Trelon Smith is doing a tremendous job,” Briles said. “Absolutely love that kid. I love his heart, his work ethic. Ever since I got here in January, all I’ve seen him do is work, all the time. He’s just a worker and it’s going to pay off for him. He’s a really smart kid. He understands the tempo, understands the offense and an extremely tough kid. He’s been getting the reps behind Rakeem.
“And then (Josh) Oglesby’s had a little hiccup and he was at running back, as well. And then (A’Montae) Spivey. Spivey’s looked good. And then our young guy, Dominique (Johnson), he’s had a nice camp, as well. We feel like Coach Smith has a really good room there and obviously Rakeem is going to be the lead dog.
Briles also feels good about the offensive line and the ability to protect Franks and open holes for Boyd.
“They’ve done a nice job,” Briles said. “The biggest thing that we’re really stressing this week is physicality and really straining on blocks. We’ve got what I believe is two of the best O-line coaches around with (Sam) Pittman and then Coach (Brad) Davis. Don’t get me wrong, Coach Davis is running the room, but Coach Pittman is always going to have his eye on those guys. And he offers great advice not just to me but to all of us.
“Just straining with blocks and so, when you have those guys that are working with them they’re always going to progress and get better. We’ve seen them do that. I feel really comfortable about Myron Cunningham at our left tackle spot and I think Beaux Limmer is playing really well at our right guard position and (Ricky) Stromberg at center. We’ve just got to settle down in a couple of other areas and I feel we’ll be really good up front.”
Arkansas will hold a scrimmage on Friday.