FAYETTEVILLE — Brad Davis was absent from Monday’s practice with what was called “a preexisting condition” and in his place Sam Pittman worked with the offensive line.
Following practice senior offensive tackle Myron Cunningham talked about the added weight he has this year. He’s listed at 6-foot-6, 325-pounds on the latest roster released by the University of Arkansas.
“At first, I would say it’s a little challenging,” Cunningham said of putting on the weight. “Just going from like 295 to 330. It’s a little challenging with putting that much weight on at first. I think I’ve kinda gotten used to it. I’m still feeling good and light on my feet and everything. So I think I’m fine.”
With Davis out, Cunningham talked about what it was like to have Pittman fill in for him. Pittman was generally recognized as possibly the nation’s top offensive line coach prior to becoming the head coach this season.
“It’s good,” Cunningham said. “Him and Davis kind of share some of the same qualities, so it’s not that big of a change. It’s always good to have someone out there, especially when your coach isn’t out there, to reiterate some of the things that he thinks.”
Cunningham talked about what Pittman and Davis have suggested he improve in the most this season.
“Just really working on my techniques and fundamentals, you know,” Cunningham said. “Just trying to master the small things, the tiny things that can hurt you when it comes to game time. Just the small things to try to fix with me. That’s about it.”
It’s generally figured the offensive line will be improved this season. Cunningham was asked his thoughts on that compared to maybe this time last year?
“I think we’re doing good right now,” Cunningham said. “I think we’ve still got a little bit of ways to go, and we’ve got some time. But I think we’re going to be good come season time. We’re going to be a lot better just because of the added size and added strength, and especially with this tempo offense we’re all going to be in better shape for it.”
With Kendal Briles serving as the offensive coordinator, the tempo is even more this season. Cunningham talked about how the team has handled the faster tempo.
“We get tired sometimes, but that’s expected when you go tempo,” Cunningham said. “Every day we’re just fighting it, trying to get better.”
Feleipe Franks at quarterback has made going up-tempo much smoother according to Cunningham. Franks has vast SEC experience starting at Florida.
“It feels good with Feleipe,” Cunningham said. “He’s very vocal. He’s very affirmative in what he says, and he’s just uplifting when he’s out there. When he’s out there, everyone…just a whole other level of confidence just sinks in. I feel like he’s good. We feel good when he’s back there. But when the young guys are back there, I feel like it just gives them confidence to have a quarterback back there that has been through the process and that has just played the game.”
In addition to Franks, Cunningham likes the way Briles runs the offense.
“I think he’s a good OC,” Cunningham said. “I think he’ll be good for us. He’s been pushing the tempo at practice trying to get us ready for the game. He’s going to try to do everything he can to try to make practice feel like a game. I think it’s going to be good for us.”
Last year on the first day of preseason practice, Noah Gatlin tore his ACL. Cunningham is hoping the injury bug has left the team.
“I feel like Coach Pittman and Coach Davis have been looking out for us, you know, trying to keep us healthy so things like that don’t happen again and we don’t repeat past mistakes,” Cunningham said. “But I feel like with the experience we have and maturity, we’re going to be good.”
Arkansas will return to the practice fields on Tuesday.