Notes from Sam Pittman previewing the spring game

Sam Pittman

• We’re going to split the teams like this: 1 offense with 2 defense, the red team will be 1 defense + 2 offense, and white team will be 1 offense and 2 defense. We’re going to have a running clock until the two-minute mark of the half and at the end of the game. We’ll kick off, but won’t go live on special teams. We anticipate about 50-55 plays on both sides of the ball, not counting special teams.

• I think we’ve made nice strides in the run game. The backs are playing better. Rocket Sanders is a nice addition for us, and the line is much bigger and understands the offense much better. We made physical strides on the offensive line and in the run game this spring.

• I’ve been hard on the quarterbacks and they’re fine with expectations being high. KJ Jefferson’s accuracy has been better in the last few weeks. We’re not where we need to be yet, but I think we’re going to have a good QB room this fall.

• Taurean Carter has had a really good spring. Zach Williams is at 265 pounds now. The D-line has surprised me. Pooh Paul has done a nice job, and Jayden Johnson, too, at safety with his ability to learn the defense and get where he’s supposed to be, and with his physicality. Simeon Blair has played really well, and his leadership and physicality stand out.

• Injuries: Some guys we’re not quite sure will go Saturday yet. Dalton Wagner is a question mark. Ty’Kieast Crawford won’t play, Khari Johnson (ankle), Tyson Morris and Hayden Henry will also be out. Jashaud Stewart and Isaiah Nichols are up in the air. If they play, it won’t be a great deal of reps. Pittman joked that spring is a good time to ask about injuries, because “in the fall it will be crickets”

• I don’t know which two guys we’d throw out at linebacker right now between Grant Morgan, Hayden Henry and Bumper Pool. Pool and Henry have been alternating playing alongside Morgan at practices. Henry didn’t play in the scrimmages and won’t play in the spring game. There’s a real competition there.

• Coach Jermial Ashley has done a nice job with the D-line. They’ve gotten bigger and better. We can get some rush with a three-down line. We’re playing more four-down than last year, but I think we’re going to be able to get to the QB without bringing linebackers — I certainly hope so. We have scholarships we can push forward and could use one there on the D-line. We would take a D-lineman or someone we can put the ball in the hands of, like a tight end.

• Marcus Henderson will probably start for us on Saturday at tackle. I don’t know if that would be the case if Wagner could go. Ty Clary, Jalen St. John and Henderson, and Luke Jones, too, have had good springs. I think we hurt Henderson moving him back and forth last year on the line. I’ve been impressed with him at right tackle this year. He has made that adjustment better than what he did last year, and he’s maturing. Henderson could be a swing tackle and play both tackle spots if needed.

• I’m proud of Brey Cook. He recently got the head coaching job at Pea Ridge. He’s had several jobs since college and I called a lot people when he was up for jobs. He’ll do a nice job because he knows how to treat people, he can motivate and he knows the game.

• We have improved in special teams. We worked a “tremendous amount” on it. As for a starting kicker, I don’t really have any idea who it would be coming into the fall. Punter and returners are the same way. You know when you know, and when someone is definitely better than someone else, we’ll pick a guy.

• I’m going to guess around 15,000 people will be here Saturday. Weather is going to be just about perfect for football — around 55-58 degrees. I think it’s going to be a great day for football. We’re looking forward to having that many people here and some more, if we can.

Will it be televised or streamed?

Very cool he mentions and praises Brey Cook in the middle of all of that.

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Bob asked Sam about Brey Cook, but yeah he’s very excited for him.

I’ve got some stuff from yesterday I’ll write for today.

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