FAYETTEVILLE — Sam Pittman held a Zoom conference to preview the spring game coming up Saturday at 2 p.m., but also talked on a variety of other topics related to the football program.
Among the topics discussed were the quarterbacks. Pittman and Kendal Briles, the offensive coordinator, have worked with redshirt sophomore KJ Jefferson, redshirt freshman Malik Hornsby, true freshman Lucas Coley, redshirt junior John Stephen Jones and redshirt freshman Kade Renfro, who is a transfer from Ole Miss. Freshman Jacob Switzer was a walk-on quarterback, but he left the team and entered the transfer portal.
“I’ve been hard on the quarterbacks,” Pittman said. “I know that. The expectations are high for them. They’re fine with that. I don’t know how you really rate a quarterback that when you are in a run-type, run and throw offense he’s another running back for you.
“In the spring if you get close to him the ball is downed and things of that nature. A lot of times guys will break an arm tackle and do some things in it that does wonders for their confidence. Then they become a little more accurate throwing the ball and all that because your mind is very powerful and controls a lot of that.”
Jefferson has been getting the majority of the first-team drills. In 2020, he played five games. He completed 20 of 41 passes for 295 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing 28 times for 67 yards and two touchdowns. In the two scrimmages he has unofficially completed 23 of 33 passes for 198 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Pittman is seeing improvement.
“Over the last four practices I felt like KJ’s accuracy has been much better,” Pittman said. “Part of that is the protection has been better, part of it is the routes been running better. But he has done a good job. Malik is pulling the ball down and running the football when things aren’t there a little more than setting in the pocket.”
Arkansas will practice Thursday and then the first-team offense and second-team defense will face the first-team defense and second-team offense on Saturday.
“So I think we’ve grown,” Pittman said of the quarterbacks. “We’re not where we need to be, but I think we’ve grown and I think we’re going to have a good quarterback room by the time August rolls around.”
In addition, true freshman Landon Rogers from Little Rock Parkview will arrive in the summer.