FAYETTEVILLE — Much has been made this week about Sam Pittman adding two young offensive linemen to the mix at the guard spots.
Sophomore Ty’Kieast Crawford and redshirt freshman Jalen St. John have worked at guard spots this week. Both were working with the second unit on Tuesday. They were behind Brady Latham and Beaux Limmer, two redshirt sophomores. Super senior Ty Clary has also worked at guard much of the season. Pittman talked about the pair on Wednesday.
“Well, I think St. John’s maybe a little ahead of Ty’Kieast with assignment-sound football,” Pittman said. “But I think that’s the move. I think you move them both in there. I’m not positive exactly how much either one of them will play at that guard position. But I think that’s the move. For what we’re doing offensively, having those big guards in there, I’ve always been a favorite of having huge guards and moving those guys in I think will help us in the long run. We have to get better at that position. The other kids worked hard this week, as well, but I think St. John – to answer your question – I think St. John’s a little ahead of where Ty’Kieast is, as far as assignment goes.”
Previously St. John had been listed as the backup left tackle while Crawford was the right tackle on second team. However, Crawford is now playing left guard and St. John right guard. Latham has been the starting left guard with Limmer and Clary getting starts at right guard. Why switch sides for Crawford and St. John?
“Well, obviously you have to feel like which one, who you’re going to go try to attack, whether you’re going to try to attack the right guard or the left guard and who’s maybe more ready to play,” Pittman said. “So we thought that to try to get help quicker on the field, we were looking at that right guard position to challenge with Beaux and Ty over there. We felt like we’d challenge that position, so we put whom we thought was more ready to play over there and that’s why we switched St. John from left to right.”
When Pittman was at Arkansas in 2013 he made a similar move starting Dan Skipper and Denver Kirkland a the guard positions after moving them over from offensive tackle.
“Well I think there’s a lot to be said … to me, I like to start anybody who I think is fairly athletic at tackle,” Pittman said. “Once I’ve found my center, you need those guys that can handle space, so you kind of look at all of them at tackle to begin with. Well, not everyone. I had a kid named Solomon Kinley over at Georgia and he came in at 380 and at 6-3 you’re not going to play tackle. I recruited him to play guard. But if you recruit a guy solely to play inside he’d better be good. You’d like to recruit centers and tackles and the ones who don’t have the feet to handle all that spacial movement, you move them to guard.
“I just believe that we need a physical presence on our inside. I mean, we need some maulers is what we need. And I can remember we moved Skip and Kirkland inside. They were both tackles, and it worked out, and then we moved them back out to tackle when we needed them out there. So I just think we need some bigger kids on the field. And I know we’ve got 300 across there, but if it’s 330, 350, that’s even better if they can move.
“I do like what’s happened. We moved St. John over to the right side because he’s the most ready to play. So we moved him over to the right side, and moved Ty’Kieast over to the left side. They’ve both had good practices. I think St. John’s a little ahead of Ty’Kieast as far as mentally over there. But we’re going to continue to do that, because I like to looks of it in there at least from the two days of practice so far.”
Arkansas and Ole Miss will kickoff at 11 a.m. on ESPN Saturday in Oxford.