FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas’ season opener is nearing when they travel to Little Rock to take on Western Carolina at 3 p.m. in Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium.

On Saturday, Arkansas held the first of two major scrimmages as they prepare for that opener. Following the scrimmage, Sam Pittman, KJ Jefferson and Cameron Ball talked with the media. Here’s five things to take away from that.

Josh Street Rewarded With Scholarship

Pittman took the opportunity when safety AJ Brathwaite Jr. left the team this week to reward redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Josh Street a scholarship. Street, 6-6, 311, with a scholarship. Street turned down Power 5 offers to walk on at Arkansas. Pittman talked about giving Street the scholarship.

“Yeah, Street’s valuable because he can play center, he can play guard,” Pittman said. “He played guard today. We’re trying to see what Amaury Wiggins can do. But he starts on special teams. Just a really valuable guy and y’all know I put him on scholarship. He earned that. You know I don’t announce it because there’s other kids on our team that would like to have one too and I really don’t need any more videos of me giving out a scholarship to a kid so I can get some likes and retweets. I just called him in and gave him a scholarship.”

Nice Job Punting

Last season as a true freshman, Max Fletcher was inconsistent. He started the season as the punter, then gave way later to Reid Bauer. Fletcher averaged 37.5 yards per punt last season with a long of 51 yards. Pittman was asked how Fletcher punted on Saturday?

“He punted the heck out of the ball,” Pittman said. “We had one… With the 2s, we had one bad punt all day and the rest of them they were booming that thing. We made… Did we make all our field goals except for one? The first one. Who was it, (Blake) Ford? Ford missed his first field goal and then after that we went either 8 for 1 or 9 for 1. I can’t remember if we kicked nine or 10. I know we kicked at least nine and none of them were really short. No, no — Ford made his. Cam (Little) missed his first one. We had a little bit of a bobble on the hold. But at the end of the scrimmage, we put 13 seconds, one timeout, we were on the 46-yard line and we got up to the 40, called timeout and Cam came in there and busted a 58-yarder that could of went 68. He knocked the heck out of that ball.”

Ty Washington, Tight Ends Coming On

Arkansas has six scholarship tight ends and it appears all are in a position to help immediately. The six are redshirt sophomore Var’keyes Gumms, 6-3, 242; redshirt freshman Ty Washington, 6-4, 247; true freshman Luke Hasz, 6-3, 242; senior Francis Sherman, 6-3, 247; redshirt senior Nathan Bax, 6-4, 250; and true freshman Shamar Easter, 6-5, 223. Pittman was asked about Washington.

“He is going to help us,” Pittman said. “I mean, I think we’ve got a pretty good tight end room. I think when you look at Frances and Luke and Gumms and Tyrus and Bax, there are going to be a lot of opportunities to get into 12 personnel. There are going to be a lot of opportunities to play and get them on the field, but Tyrus has made some hard, hard catches. He’s getting better at his blocking. He’s got a great attitude and is playing hard, but the thing that I’m noticing more is he’s getting open and catching contested passes.”

Quarterback KJ Jefferson was asked if he likes his options at tight end with Dan Enos expected to use them more in the passing game than Kendal Briles did.

“I have,” Jefferson said. “I mean, being able to have an offense and a system where we have rules and boundaries and also giving the tight ends a little freedom to work some moves and showcase their skill level and their talent. In this offense, they’ve done a great job of taking it on and being able to come out each and every day in practice and work those moves and create mismatches as well. Just having an offense like that to free those guys up.”

Jefferson singled out Gumms as someone who has impressed him.

“He is,” Jefferson said. “He has really big hands and strong hands as well.”

A lot of wide receivers and tight ends are trying to get snaps. Jefferson likes what he has seen from the players at both positions.

“I mean, right now, we’re on Day 8,” Jefferson said. “So it’s kind of hard to say who’s going to be the go-to guy. Right now, all those guys are competing at a very high level. They’re taking each and every day personal to go out there and be the best they can be that day. It’s kind of hard to say who would be a go-to receiver right now or tight end.”

Rashod Dubinion Improving

Sophomore running back Rashod Dubinion was good last year as a true freshman, but it appears he’s even better this season.

“Right now he’s in shape, so he’s faster, more confident,” Pittman said. “I think him getting the offensive player of the game in the Liberty Bowl helped his confidence as well. I don’t think he or us see him as a 3. We just see him as when he’s in the game, there are some good things that are going to happen. I think the most he’s grown is just in his confidence and knowledge of the game of football and the expectations of what SEC football is all about. He’s a really good player.”

In 2022, he carried 71 times for 293 yards and five touchdowns. He caught 12 passes for 98 yards and a touchdown. In the win over Kansas, Dubinion carried 20 times for 112 yards and two touchdowns. He also added three receptions for 19 yards and earned Offensive MVP.

“Rashod is a special athlete,” Jefferson said. “I mean, he can do it all. And also just the way he’s —  his preparation, the way he’s approached this camp. He’s taking a lot more reps more serious, taking everything more serious. Each and every day he come out it’s a competition in that running back room as well so iron sharpen iron in that room. They all want to see each other get better so they are just pushing each other in the room just to that full potential. So he’s doing a really good job so far.”

Pittman Likes His Team

Pittman has said a few times this fall how he likes his team. He repeated that on Saturday and said why.

“I like this team because they like each other,” Pittman said. “I like this team a lot. Never had a team practice this well together, and they like each other. Now there’s flare ups, people get heated and all that stuff. But I think like and respect. This team respects each other. The other day I told them, ‘This ain’t offense versus defense. Let’s go compete. You’ve got a job to do. Go do your job. I thought we did that the best. But yes, I really like this team. I like the looks of the team. We went down there and ran sprints at the end of scrimmage, there wasn’t no heads down, ‘oh this, that and the other.’ They do what we ask them to do because they believe that everything we do is for them and for their success.  And that’s what we’re trying to do.”