FAYETTEVILLE — Sam Pittman said the Razorbacks have started working more on the four-man front on defense with two particular players standing out right now.
Redshirt senior Isaiah Nichols and redshirt junior Taurean Carter are impressing Pittman who also praised the job being done by Deke Adams, his new coach on the D-line.
“Both of them are playing harder than they’ve ever played,” Pittman said. “Both of them are much better of playing on the offensive line side of the ball, and that’s because of get-off and hand placement. I think if Deke’s done anything with these kids, and he’s done a bunch, it’s hand-placement and knock-back, and those guys are doing a really good job of that. They’re not missing their hands. They’re getting their hands inside. And to me, they’re playing harder than they did before, too. But a lot of times, you play harder because you start faster if that makes sense. You can play hard, and it doesn’t look like you play hard because you’re trying to get back into position. You’re playing hard, but you’re trying to get back in. ‘I’m out of position. I’m trying to get in position.’ It looks like you play harder when you’re in position. You shuck a block, you shed a block, and you run to the ball and make a play. I guess to answer your question, it’s the start of the knock-back and the hand placement that’s made them better. And they’re obviously stronger and bigger than they were last year.”
Redshirt freshman Cam Ball is another interior defensive lineman drawing some praise from Pittman.
“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.”
As far as the left tackle on offense Pittman is still looking at options to replace the departed Myron Cunningham. Redshirt junior Luke Jones has gotten a lot of first-team reps there and Pittman likes what he has seen as well as talked about some other options.
“I like Jones out there,” Pittman said. “Cody (Kennedy) is such a fine coach. Brady Latham can play about anything, well he can. He can play every place. I think Luke’s done a good job. He’s got to work his backside cutoffs. He needs work there. Done a nice job in pass protection. Then (Devon) Manuel behind him and of course (Andrew) Chamblee.
“We have moved Brady Latham out there. We’ve had Brady play I believe every position except… Well, I think he’s played them all. Just because of our numbers are down. That tells you about how smart he is, it tells you he’s an athletic guy. But those are the five, four guys who’ve played out there at left tackle so far. I’m liking where Jones is going and I think he’ll only get better.”
Pittman also likes the possibility of senior Bumper Pool and Alabama transfer Drew Sanders pairing at linebacker. Redshirt freshman Chris “Pooh” Paul is also playing well.
“(Drew is) instinctive,” Pittman said. “He can really run. I think he ran an 11 flat 100 meter at whatever he’s at. He’s big. But he’s instinctive, he can run. He kind of fits us. He’s tough and smart. I really like the kid. I like him a lot and think he’s going to be a really, really good player in this league. I think Pooh Paul has done a nice job, too. He’s got a concussion. But I really like Drew, and it’s because of his athletic ability and he wants to get to the ball. He reminds me a little bit of Bumper. I like those two guys playing side by side.”
The Hogs will return to the practice field today.