Boateng, Cornelius, Hammonds, Jones, Martin, Nance, Pettway, Stewart…Barkley, Barnes, Jackson, Warren. That’s 12 scholarship wide receivers for a team challenged to fully utilize even four at a time. How is this going to end?
Is the Hog OLB position the same vestigial limb that the sam LB position was in the 4-3 that Robb Smith ran? Is sending Bell and Roesler to play there akin to assigning them to Nome?
Are Rawleigh and Maleek Williams much the same kind of player? Is there something about Devwah Whaley that clashes with the offensive scheme?
Is Colton Jackson ready to play left tackle, or is he first team because he has a small amount of seniority? If the latter, are we headed for another early season change? If so, who’s most likely?
Is Giovanni LaFrance going to be able to play LB, or is he destined to be a 4-3 rush end on a team that plays a 3-4?
Are Melvin Johnson and Gabe Richardson good enough to play in 2017? And where would they fit into the depth chart?
At this point, how many SEC-quality linebackers does Arkansas have ready to play in 2017?
Does Paul Rhoads have any qualms about working young players into his secondary? In recent seasons, Arkansas’s fastest DBs were way too skinny, and the bigger ones were much too slow. Many good freshmen are coming, and the WR ranks also are overloaded. Are we stuck starting players who have been around long enough to learn the defense, and if so, is the defense still fatally flawed on the back end? Or will we see a post-spring reckoning/rebalancing of the entire roster?
How far are Nate Dalton, Deon Edwards, Korey Hernandez, Micahh Smith and Britto Tutt from being ready to play, and are they any more talented than the players in front of them?
Are any of the current tight ends as fast as Hunter Henry and Jeremy Sprinkle were? Seems like we ended up with a lot of 'em that can’t move that well. Lots of looking ahead to Jeremy Patton.
Arkansas recruited more players with plus speed, but do the coaches have any urgency about getting more speed onto the field?
I saw this yesterday but I was more interested in the rain and what was happening to my backyard. It turned into a lake. The sub division built a new brick wall as a back border. It’s the border to my property. They did not place drains low enough in the wall and it turned out to be a great dam. It did finally drain this morning. I thought I’d be going out there with a pail and flipping the water over the wall.
1, First, you have three spots that could be on the field together. You better have wideouts. I would not consider Hammonds JUST a wideout. He’s a go-between with running back and might be used a variety of ways. I like this group. And, I also note that the two JC guys are here for only two years. Better keep signing them – although they are only taking one next year.
2, No. Paul Rhoads says he intends to play the Razor and the Hog together in base much more than what Robb Smith did. I wonder if one of the inside linebackers might come off the field to get to nickel. I do think Ramsey will play much more this year than he did last year. But, you always pull someone in your front to get to nickel. An NFL scout told me that nickel was the defense for 82 percent of their snaps last year. It was for 87 percent under Robb Smith last year. So you are talking about modern day football, playing a lot with five DBs. Rhoads would like to play more base than that, but you never know until you starting matching personnel with the offense.
3, I think they both those backs are the same type player in that both have some power to them and both are good players. Neither one is a burner. But both appear to be very good SEC backs and north-south guys with the ability to plant and cut. I got no idea on what you are talking about with Whaley. I think he’s going to play a lot. I think as far as what I’ve seen this spring, he’s challenging for the number one spot. He may get it, too. He’s big time.
4, Colton Jackson might be the most gifted athlete in the offensive front. I don’t see anyone who can beat him out. He was very good this spring. Everyone I’ve talked to thought it was a matter of time before he figured it out and claimed that left tackle spot. He’s done that.
5, Giovanni LaFrance looks like a solid player to me. He’s still learning the speed of the game. That doesn’t mean he’s slow. He can run. But he doesn’t jump at the first movement of the offense. He’ll get that. I don’t know that I’d play him at outside linebacker. He looks like an inside guy to me.
6, Freshmen in the depth chart is something I probably can’t do. I haven’t studied them enough to know. Sometimes it’s just about where the void hits and who makes it through camp without turning an ankle. All it takes is missing two weeks (and 7-8 practices) to put you on the scout team for the fall.
7, I think the part that surprised me was how fast Grant Morgan developed. I think he’s going to play. For sure, he plays on special teams. He plays fast. I watched him yesterday with David Bazzel, an old linebacker. We both liked what we saw from Morgan. I’d say that you have Dre Greenlaw, Scootah Harris, Dwayne Eugene (if you wanted to move him inside), Josh Harris and Grant Morgan. Kyrei Fisher will be there soon. He will hit, but he still is learning technique and keys (as backfield movement occurs).
8, No, I think freshmen will play backup spots in this secondary. More than in the past. Partly, the freshmen on the way are really good. And, there is a void to fill, too.
9, Britto Tutt will play. Not sure on the others. They made progress in the spring. What happens over the summer is probably the key. I did not say they wouldn’t help. I’m just not sure. They are going to get about 50 workouts in pass skeleton against Austin Allen’s passing.
10, Cheyenne O’Grady is the fastest. And, he can really run. He’s on that same level as far as foot speed. He may be faster than Hunter Henry, and on the same level as Jeremy Sprinkle. Henry wasn’t so much fast as crafty in releases and the way he positioned his big body. I do not think Austin Cantrell is far away from that, but his route running has to improve. Remember, Austin ran the anchor on his high school’s 4x100 relay. He has good speed, but not great. Jeremy Patton has great speed. I don’t think Grayson Gunter is a slow one. He’s got a long, smooth stride.
11, I think you are always trying to get faster. Just by the nature of the scheme, they are going to get faster. I assume you are talking about defense. I think the next wave of defenders are definitely faster and there is hope that they can play sooner rather than later. Coach 'em up and get them on the field. That’s been the charge from Bielema.
Much of what you say is comforting.
The point about Whaley = will they call plays to feature him vs. call plays that are scheme-driven. This is the question I have. Fit the player vs. force the player into the role.
I saw videos of flooding in Rogers, goodness gracious. Never saw anything like that in all the years I lived there.
Clay certainly covered that about as well as could be covered.
Heard good things at times last year about Dee Walker, but don’t see his name listed as an SEC ready linebacker. What’s the story with him?
He was mentioned several times by both the LB coach, the DC and the head coach.
Most of it was good, once it was he needed to be more serious.
Was playing inside yesterday.
Thanks to RR for the questions and CH for the answers, I had some of the same questions but you guys covered them all, great job! More speed and better depth than the past few years should serve us well in the last half of season one would think. Hope new defense can show up early and often to keep us in upper tier of Sec west. WPS
Dee Walker’s speed and quickness is evident. I look for him to help first with special teams. That seems the way linebackers earn time on the field. If they show they can tackle in the open field and want to be first to the ball, they will find some time in regular defense.
Been working on a lengthy basketball project that’ll be out in the next day or so, so just now getting a chance to respond, but…
I think the top 4 WRs are Cornelius, Stewart, Pettway and Martin. Jordan Jones has the talent to play a lot and make a big impact if he will buy in and keep on learning the playbook. Hammonds will have a role, too. The natural comparison for him is Percy Harvin. Jonathan Nance may get some time, too. He had a decent spring before a knee injury slowed him up.
I’d think this varies depending on opponent tendencies and down and distance. It’ll be interesting to see who gets subbed out when they go to the nickel. And I think they’ll be in nickel plenty. Remember last year, they didn’t really operate out of their base that often. Kevin Richardson is probably one of their best 11 on defense.
Maleek may have a bit more power than Rawleigh. The 15-20 pounds he lost has helped his quickness and doesn’t seem to have negated his ability to run through arm tackles and fight for extra yardage. Neither have great speed, but are fast enough. The staff is high on Whaley and it’s easy to see why. I don’t know that I’d necessarily call him a home-run threat, but he has big-play potential.
I think they are genuinely happy with Colton’s spring. He and Wallace look like SEC tackles. I do think it’s fair to take a wait-and-see approach with Jackson and the entire line (that’s how I’m looking at it, at least), but it should be improved. It needs to be. Paul Ramirez seems to be the third tackle at the moment. Jalen Merrick could factor in, too. Long-term, Bielema and Anderson are both high on Dalton Wagner at tackle. He’s 6-9, 330. Should be a high school senior at the moment.
LaFrance has had injury issues in fall camp and spring ball since arriving on campus. When he has been out there in the 4 practices we saw this spring, he was the subject of a lot of corrective teaching from the coaching staff.
I don’t know enough about either to venture a good guess. I did do Richardson’s recruiting capsule for the magazine and from talking to his JUCO coach, it seems like he could be an OLB.
Dre Greenlaw and Scoota Harris, for sure. I like Scoota a lot. He has size and instincts. He’s a quiet guy but has tried to be more vocal and actually received votes for defensive captain. After that, I think it gets a little murky. Grant Morgan and Josh Harris are undersized, but have had their moments. I don’t know that you’d want either facing Alabama at this point. They may be good special teams players. Dee Walker will probably also help on special teams, but I think he could wind up being a contributor in the future. Wouldn’t surprise me if he’s a backup somewhere this year. They coaches like him and they’re still trying to figure out where he fits best. I’m very intrigued by Kyrei Fisher. He’s big and physical. I think he impressed the coaches this spring. Will be interesting to see what his role is in the fall.
I think Rhoads (and the vast majority of coaches) will play whoever the best man is. I do think Arkansas will start Pulley (great, great spring) and Toliver at corner, Richardson at nickel, Ramirez at strong safety and Coley at free safety, with Liddell being in the rotation. So, the same faces. But the freshmen may have a chance to earn backup roles. Montaric Brown seems talented, but may not be ready physically. He needs to bulk up. I wondered coming into the spring if Deon Edwards or Micahh Smith could make a push for playing time, but instead Reid Miller actually worked with the ones a decent amount while still taking the bulk of his reps with the twos. I have a hard time envisioning Miller as a legitimate option in the fall (could be special teams), so that was interesting to me. Obviously Edwards and Smith are still young. I think there is playing time available for Chevin Calloway. Britto Tutt and Nate Dalton had their moments this spring, but I think Calloway will contend to be the No. 4 corner in fall camp.
I kind of touched on some of those guys in the post above, but all of those guys are still young. Tutt is coming off the ACL injury. Hernandez missed some time in spring ball, but should benefit from being here. He looks like he needs a summer in the weight room, which isn’t unexpected.
I think C.J. is comparable. Maybe not quite as fast as Sprinkle, but close. He’s very athletic. Obviously Jeremy Patton is supposed to be in that athletic TE mold. Austin Cantrell joked the other day about not being as fast as he was in high school, but obviously his blocking is his main calling card. I don’t think his speed (or lack of) is really a big deal provided he has other weapons around him. He’s shown he can be tough to tackle after the catch. Kraus is more of a blocker.
Obviously you always want speed on the field, especially in the SEC. That’s why a guy like Hammonds could be so key even if he doesn’t get a ton of touches. Calloway and Brown’s speed in the secondary is intriguing for the future.
Clay always covers things well. He’s beginning to remind me of his dad.
I looked forward to seeing what Jimmy wrote. His eyes and judgment are good and he saw every practice that I saw, sometimes from different angles and was in every interview that I was in. So we match up in what we are seeing and thinking. I respect his view.
Great responses, all. One more question. Do you believe the coaches saw what they wanted to see out of the noseguards?
They seem to be pleased. I never saw a practice when they turned the NGs loose. And, that will be what happens in games. To play a zero gap technique at nose – the goal of this type of 3-4 – will mean the nose guard has to play some games with the Center . They played straight. The thought is that all three – Jackson, Capps and Marshall – can cause trouble. I also think Agim was tried in there briefly. That’s not a bad idea, too.
I wasn’t blown away by either, but they were double-teamed most of the time, which is obviously what you want in a 3-4. I do think Capps will be a different player even in the fall. He has room to grow because he’s still so young.