FAYETTEVILLE — Sam Pittman did a Zoom meeting with the media following Tuesday’s practice where he talked about both Saturday’s scrimmage and Tuesday’s seventh practice of the spring.
Pittman did say the Hogs are going to start putting more four-man front in and talked about a returning redshirt junior who is playing very well on the defensive line.
“Right now what we don’t want to do play one kid or two kids too much,” Pittman said. “We’re doing that a little bit too much up front on the offensive line. (Dalton) Wagner’s back is hurting a little bit. Not bad, but enough I said let’s just shelve him. He’s played a lot of ball. Let’s put him on the shelf for today. We were already at 14 so now that put us at 13.
“So, that’s a little bit that way on the D-line because we don’t have a tremendous amount of numbers. We got spoiled last year we had 130 kids on the team in the spring. So we’re a little down, but we have looked at a little bit more four down today. I like it. We went to the inside run and I thought the D-line pretty much dominated us in that period. That’s not to say …. I’m not worried about the D-line. I don’t want that to be the headline because we’re going to be fine up there. We’ve got guys that have proven they can play in this league. But I did think the D-line, for the first day, I was talking to Barry (Odom) on the practice field the first day those guys playing an assortment of fronts, whether it be a four- or three-man line. I thought they did a really good job. I think the rise of Taurean Carter has allowed to go to that four-man front faster. I think he and (Isaiah) Nichols are playing the best of the entire defensive line.”
But that was on Tuesday, looking back at Saturday’s scrimmage Pittman talked about how that went since it was the first one of the spring.
“I liked the scrimmage,” Pittman said. “We did a little bit different format than we had in the past. I wanted to get more of the offense vs. defense. I wanted to strain them a little more in consecutive reps vs. thirds and special teams. I thought the tempo went well. I was very happy we didn’t get anybody hurt from the scrimmage. That’s big you, know. I was telling coaches when you roll the ball out there on Saturday you never think about an injury. You practice that way during the week and to be ready for it but you never think, ‘Oh my. I hope nobody gets hurt.’ But in every scrimmage that’s on your mind the whole time. So I was really pleased with that.
“I liked the contact. We’ve got the ones, twos and threes and combinations of ones and twos and then the threes again and the high and low red area. And then we thudded up third down and two minutes. So I don’t know if there were any spectacular plays per se on either side of the ball. I thought it was a competitive scrimmage. I thought the twos did well offensively and defensively against the ones. We found out that we’ve got some young kids that are lost a little bit assignment wise but yet are very physical and can run. So I was very pleased with the way it went. We kicked the ball well. I think we were 7 of 8 on field goals. We didn’t do them just consecutively. We brought them out there where it was one and done. I thought (Jacob) Bates kicked the ball well and Cam (Little) kicked the ball well. I think Bates was 4 for 4 and Cam was 3 for 4.”
Later Pittman did clarify that linebacker Chris “Pooh” Paul did suffer a concussion in the scrimmage. He mentioned Paul’s injury when talking about a few that caught his attention on Saturday.
“I really liked the way (linebacker) Drew Sanders played,” Pittman said. “I like the way he played for us. We did get a concussion. Pooh Paul had a concussion in the scrimmage. We’re wearing those skull caps on everybody. Rocket (Sanders) only had six carries. (Rashod) Dubinion continues to play well. He’s a good football player. Warren Thompson caught a couple of hard passes. I thought our secondary played well. The guy, if I need to say something about another guy it’s Taurean Carter. He’s really playing well. He and Isaiah Nichols are both really playing well this spring. I’m real proud of both those guys. They played well in the scrimmage.”
In addition to Sanders, Pittman talked about how the other transfers and a few others did as well on Saturday.
“Well Nudie’s starting for us at corner,” Pittman said. “Excuse me, Dwight McGlothern, you guys will know him as Nudie too. That’s his name. Myles Slusher played well too. He’s played really well. On the transfers, (Latavious) Brini’s on the second team right now. He’s doing well. He’s going to turn it loose. He hasn’t quite yet. (Jadon) Haselwood got out of his green (jersey) and played. Got that shoulder beat up just a little again. And then, I’m trying to think of the other transfers. I thought (quarterback) Cade Fortin played really well. I like him. I’ve said it several times. I like him and I’m really happy he came here.
“I do want to say, we did not scrimmage Malik (Hornsby) at wide receiver. He had his best day as a quarterback too. I’m all over the place too. I know that. But he did have his best day. I was really happy with Malik’s performance. But we didn’t play him at wideout because with him, and I thought Haselwood would be in green and KJ (Jefferson) in black, and with him in the black, it’s not much of a scrimmage at that point when you have three guys that are going to have the ball and you can’t hit any of them. So we just played Malik solely at quarterback for that scrimmage.”
Redshirt freshman Cam Ball is also in the mix inside with Carter, Nichols and others right now. Pittman praised him as well.
“I’m liking Cam a lot,” Pittman said. “He plays extremely hard. He’s a little more athletic than I thought he would be, even last year. I thought Coach (Jamil) Walker did a nice job with him in the weight room. Cam Ball’s going to be in that rotation. He’s a good football player, especially once when we get to working on a four-down line and things of that nature, he’ll get even more play at that point.”
Since one emphasis has been on improving the pass rush this spring Pittman was asked how it was on Saturday?
“I thought we were pretty clean as far as offensive line, of handling pass rush,” Pittman said. “But again, I think they wanted to see who could make plays without help. We’ve done so much stuff where we’re in man coverage at practice that I think we wanted to see a little bit more, and we ran quite a bit of man as well, brought linebackers and things of that nature, but I think coming out of the scrimmage, we’re still going, ‘Who’s going to be that pass rushing defensive end for us?’ I think we have the guys that can do it and they’re getting better, but I don’t remember… I tell ya, where they came on real strong was in third downs. We had eight reps of third-down situations and I think there were several sacks during that period. During the actual scrimmage, I don’t believe there were too many, but there were a lot in third-down and part of that was bringing five guys.”
Arkansas will return to the practice field on Thursday and then again on Saturday morning. The next scrimmage will be April 16 at 11 a.m. in Reynolds Razorback Stadium and open to the public. Arkansas will wrap up the spring with a scrimmage of the younger players on April 23.