FAYETTEVILLE — Despite now having 22 seniors and 19 returning starters Arkansas’ first preseason scrimmage on Saturday morning will obviously be important.
On Thursday, Sam Pittman described what the scrimmage will consist of and number of reps.
“Yeah, I’m going to guess right now that the number of plays will be somewhere up around 50 per unit of one and two, and then the 3s are gonna get somewhere around half of that, around 25,” Pittman said. “We will do all phases of the kicking game. We will not cover every one of them. The ones are going to do three punts and we’ll cover one of them. Probably have an all-out block, trying to block it as well. Then we’ll cover down about 15 yards on one. On kickoff, kickoff return we’ll do a full rep. Now we’re not going to tackle the returner. We’ll do a full rep, then the next one will be take the line you know, things of that nature So I’m sure it’ll be hot out there. We’ll end up somewhere around 125 plays in total, but, that’s not true, not counting special teams.”
While the Hogs do return several starters injuries happen and also there’s several battles going on to see who is on the second unit and then third one. Pittman talked about how much the scrimmage will impact the depth chart.
“I believe in the first scrimmage you go play your people, you go play your best people in the first scrimmage,” Pittman said. “Then your second scrimmage, you might – you may or may not, depending on if you have a guy that you just can’t afford to lose. But the bottom line is we can’t afford to lose any of them.”
In addition, Pittman talked about what else he will be looking for during Saturday’s scrimmage.
“Obviously we haven’t tackled, so I want to see how well we tackle,” Pittman said. “We’re finding out a little bit more about our pass rush abilities. You guys have been out there for some of those. So we’re finding out a little bit more about that. I want to see if we can protect the quarterback and I want to see if we can run the ball. And I want to see if we can stop the ball carrier.
“There’s a special teams part of it as well. Right now we feel like Cam Little is really kicking the ball well. Then we have to find our punter, who that would be, and returner. But I think this will be a big deal for us Saturday on how we have it, depth chart, and special teams and how it comes out. I think it will really be a tell-tell sign of where guys are.”
It appears the punt return job will go to Greg Brooks, Bryce Stephens or Nathan Parodi.
“We are catching the ball right now with the top three guys back there,” Pittman said. “So we’ll see what happens. That’s Brooks, Brooks is doing a really good job with that, and Stephens is doing a good job with that. Then Parodi is doing a good job with that. Those three guys. And we looked at (Myles) Slusher a little bit lately and he’s doing a good job, too.”
Brooks said he would like to get the job returning punts.
“You know I’d like to do it a lot because I used to do it in high school and it’s fun,” Brooks said. “But mainly now it’s just punts.
“It’s going really well. I’m getting back adjusted to it. I thought about it when I first came here but then I broke my thumb. So just getting back in the flow of it.”
Brooks feels Saturday’s scrimmage is a big one for him and his teammates.
“I feel like it’s really important,” Brooks said. “It’s getting back to playing real football. First time tackling. But I feel like it’s going to help our offense, it’s going to help our defense, and it’s going to get us better in each and every way.”
Wide receiver Tyson Morris also talked about the importance of Saturday’s scrimmage.
“Coach Pittman wants us to treat it just like a real Saturday game, and that’s our mindset going into it,” Morris said. “Each rep we’re going to be getting after it, and keeping the pace up-tempo. Keeping a high tempo. I feel like we’re going to be able to build off this scrimmage.”
The scrimmage is completely closed to the media.