Razorback camp notebook: First football scrimmage on deck
Published Saturday, August 12, 2023 FAYETTEVILLE — The first great litmus test of training camp will take place today when the Arkansas Razorbacks hold a late-morning scrimmage at Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The closed workout, practice No. 8 of camp, will be the first live tackling work of the season for the University of Arkansas, which has benefited from unseasonably cooler temperatures up through the last couple of days.
The forecast for the scrimmage is a temperature of around 80 degrees at the start, reaching up into the high 80s by the end, under mostly cloudy skies with little chance for rain. The NCAA has reduced the number of live-tackling opportunities in recent years, adding greater value to the times the coaches can see the work that best resembles game day. Fourth-year Coach Sam Pittman touted the practice as a “full-fledged scrimmage” in his media appearance on Thursday.
The first couple of units will probably work somewhere around 50 live snaps apiece and the third group will have about 30 plays, Pittman indicated. There will be “move-the-ball” segments for each of the offenses as well as specialty down-and-distance work, red zone work and two-minute. Landon Jackson, one of the key contributors on what the Hogs are touting as a deeper defensive end group, stressed the importance of the work.
“Just for our defense to take another step, take another leap and really dominate tomorrow,” Jackson said. “Yeah, tomorrow’s a really big day for the D-line,” said tackle Taurean Carter. “Let’s see what we can do chemistry-wise in a game setting.
“Go out there and try to get to the quarterback, try to get off blocks, try to make plays. Don’t think of it as just another day. Think of it as a game and make plays.
” The Razorbacks have a few key position battles going for starting jobs, most notably at cornerback and the “Hog” nickel back spot. Also, defensive line coach Deke Adams has been rotating a lot of players onto the first unit at both tackle and end, so sorting the depth will be on tap for his group. Adams had a little fun when asked what he wanted to see from the scrimmage.
“Well, you see what they’ve done for me the first six days,” he said. “You see all this gray hair right here? “Tomorrow I’m just going to sit back and relax and watch them play. I’m going to watch them play and see where we are as a group right now.
I think they’ve done a good job and they have a good hold of the system and I want to see who’s going to line up and make plays without me coaching them on every play. ” Personnel report Sophomore linebacker Chris Paul, a strong candidate to win the vote of his teammates as a defensive captain, worked to the side as a member of the injured list on Friday. He was joined by starting left tackle Devon Manuel, defensive end Jashaud Stewart and freshman defensive lineman Quincy Rhodes Jr.
None of the injured players are expected to be out very long, per Coach Sam Pittman on Thursday. Defensive linemen Anthony Booker, John Morgan Jr. and Keivie Rose all dressed out and participated in the workout after missing small amounts of time.
Rose took reps with the top unit at defensive tackle in fastball starts. In Paul’s absence, sophomore Jordan Crook and transfer junior Jaheim Thomas took reps as starting linebackers during fastball starts while senior Antonio Grier and true freshman Brad Spence worked with the twos. Redshirt freshman Andrew Chamblee took snaps with the starters at left tackle in Manuel’s place opposite right tackle Patrick Kutas.
Redshirt freshman E’Marion Harris and true freshman Luke Brown were the second-team tackles. AJ Brathwaite, a transfer defensive back from Western Kentucky, left the program on Thursday, a team spokesman confirmed. It is the second year in a row the Razorbacks lost a transfer portal addition before the end of camp as defensive lineman Taylor Lewis left last August.
Fastballs KJ Jefferson went 1 of 2 during the four-play fastball start for the top offense, while Raheim “Rocket” Sanders had a pair of solid runs. The groups each took four plays in the quick-start period after going for five plays each on Thursday. Jefferson’s completion went to Sanders on a swing pass over left end.
His incomplete pass sailed over Jaedon Wilson, who had broken open over the middle. Jacolby Criswell went 2 for 2 with the second unit, completing throws to tight end Ty Washington and wideout Sam Mbake. Rashod Dubinion had a pair of runs for that group, the second one being a solid gainer at right guard.
Washington was detached on his catch, which came with a good-hands grab near the sideline. Mbake made a good catch near his back hip on a crossing route in traffic. Install levels Coach Sam Pittman said on Thursday the Razorbacks were several days away from finishing up their installation work for camp.
“I’d say we’re probably — what are we, six days into practice? — we’re probably 75-80% on both sides of the ball and what we’re going to install. We still have probably the early part of next week to finish up through install. ” DB depth For the second day in a row, defensive backs coaches Marcus Woodson and Deron Wilson had Lorando “Snaxx” Johnson at nickel back, paired with corners Jaheim Singletary and Jaylon Braxton and safeties Hudson Clark and Al Walcott.
Dwight McGlothern and Kee’yon Stewart ran at second-team corner with Jaylen Lewis manning the “Hog,” or nickel spot. Proud dad Defensive line coach Deke Adams was in Atlanta for his son Jordyn’s major league debut with the Los Angeles Angels against the Braves at Truist Park on Aug. 2, two days before the Razorbacks opened camp.
Jordyn Adams started in center field and went 0-4 in a 12-5 Braves victory, but the score wasn’t what mattered most to Deke Adams. “That was exciting,” he said of attending his son’s MLB debut along with his wife Alexis. “It was an exciting experience.
“That’s an amazing ballpark in Atlanta. To be part of the program and be called up there is really special. ” Adams said he was taking time away from home for a few days to mentally prepare for camp, and happened to be in Atlanta when his son called with the news he’d been called up from Class AAA Salt Lake City.
“I thought they were going to fly him to Anaheim, but they flew him to Atlanta to meet the team,” Adams said. Defensive end Landon Jackson was excited for Adams. “He talked to us, and last month was the month where his mom passed away as well,” Jackson said.
“He said it’s just crazy how God does things. He had the worst month and the best month of his life all at the same time. “That was one of his goals as a father his whole life is to see his son play in the majors.
” Defensive tackle Taurean Carter said Adams brags about his son all the time. “He compares life situations he goes on with him and his son to us,” Carter said. “So we know what to expect in our future if we want to go pro.
All the similar scenarios and situations. ” Big guy Defensive tackle Ian Geffrard, a true freshman from Mableton, Ga. , is listed at 6-5 and 394 pounds on the camp roster.
“It’s going to be a process,” defensive line coach Deke Adams said of Geffrard lowering his weight. “This time next year, I would definitely love to see him around 355, 360. “We talked about that.
He knows that. But there’s always a place for a guy as big as he is and as quick as he is in our deal. ” Adams said he hopes the defense won’t be in many situations where Geffrard’s size would be needed in goal-line packages.
“But he’s doing a good job, and I can’t say he won’t be part of the rotation this year,” Adams said. “He’s doing a really good job. … You never know what happens.
” Hey y’all Transfer safety Al Walcott’s personality came out in his first group interview on Thursday. Before his interview session with receiver Isaac TeSlaa even began, Walcott called out “Good afternoon!” to the room as he strode to the dais. That declaration played perfectly into the description defensive backs coach Deron Wilson gave of the Baylor transfer this week.
“When he communicates, he’s loud,” Wilson said. “He’s confident. ” Walcott has been running at first-team safety along with Hudson Clark in recent days.
Walcott and TeSlaa took time to shake hands and introduce themselves to the whole media room after their interview session. Rocket glare Tailback Raheim “Rocket” Sanders was one of 45 players named on Friday to the Walter Camp player of the year preseason watch list. A junior from Rockledge, Fla.
, Sanders rushed for 1,443 yards, the fourth-highest single-season total in school history, and 10 touchdowns in 2022 to rank second in the SEC. The award, voted on by all 133 FBS head coaches and sports information directors, will be narrowed to 10 semifinalists in November. .