FAYETTEVILLE — Despite the heat and just being the first day in full pads Sam Pittman was very pleased with Thursday’s practice.
“I tell you what, in my opinion it was the best practice we’ve had this camp,” Pittman said. “I don’t even want to say they fought through the heat because you didn’t even notice they were struggling through it. We got a lot done. We went a lot of red zone, a lot of situations, third-down. We went third-and-one. We went goal line. We went two-point play. We did a lot of specifics today, and they did a wonderful job of it.
“Started out with pocket pass protection drill where defense got the offense. We’ve got to get better at protection. I’m not just saying we can’t protect. We’re violating our eyes a little bit, and between the backs and O-line we have to get better there because we can’t cut somebody loose on our quarterback. We have to get better at that.”
The battle behind KJ Jefferson at quarterback continues with Malik Hornsby holding down the No. 2 spot. The third spot is up in air with John Stephen Jones, Kade Renfro, Lucas Coley and Landon Rogers.
“Malik obviously has his abilities,” Pittman said. “He’s very fast and those things. I believe he’s throwing the ball a little bit better. That still has to improve, but he’s throwing it better. Behind that, it’s kind of a toss-up each day. We’re doing 1s, 2s, 3s and then we’re doing what we call a combo period. Basically, what I told our coaches is kind of your worst nightmare. In other words, ‘That guy we can’t lose and let’s say that we did.’ So, we’re getting a lot of different quarterback looks moved up a little bit with depth. The No. 3, to be honest with you, I don’t know who it is right now. A lot of times you say that and you don’t have a 3. I’m not saying that. I’m saying we’ve got three guys in there battling it out. They all have done well at times. We still have a few practices, 19 left to figure that out. That’s not true. We don’t have 19 to figure that out, we’ve probably got more like 14 or 13 to figure that out.”
Also at running back, Trelon Smith is the obvious starter. But true freshman AJ Green is pushing for some early playing time.
“He looked good today,” Pittman said. “He’s started to become a more willing blocker in pass protection. I don’t know how much he did of that in high school. If I was a high school coach, I’d turn around and hand it to him and I’m sure that’s what they did. But he is staring, you know how it is when you first come in. He also ran 10.3 something, 10.4. But you’re playing about 10.8 or 10.9 because you’re thinking all the time and that’s what it was. I’m gonna say in that comparison he’s probably running about a 10.7 right now. He’s getting towards that 100-meter mark he set, but not quite there yet.”
Redshirt sophomore Devin Bush is someone who was highly recruited out of high school, but hasn’t had much success at Arkansas. However, it appears that may be about to change as he worked with the second unit on Thursday.
“Really good,” Pittman said. “He’s been in the 3s most of camp. We had a depth chart, how we’re going to play the players on Saturday, meeting yesterday. Obviously we didn’t practice. His name came up a lot, so I’m going, ‘Well, if it comes up that much, why don’t we just put him with the 2s and see how he is against a little bit better competition?’ That’s what happened.”
True freshman tight end Erin Outley hasn’t practiced yet this fall.
“You haven’t because he hasn’t been out there,” Pittman said. “Erin, he’s just not ready yet. He had a good summer, got in better shape. Came in a little heavy, got in better shape, but we as a staff, as a medical staff, don’t think that he’s healthy enough right now to go out there and possibly not get hurt, not get out of his own way right now. We’re progressing with that a little bit, but he’s not ready yet.”
The Razorbacks will practice on Friday and then hold the first scrimmage of the preseason on Saturday.