Practice notes and observations - 8/20

Arkansas went through practice No. 13 of the preseason Friday morning, splitting time in the indoor facility and on the grass field outdoors.

Here are some takeaways from the 20-minute period open to the media:

• Freshman running back AJ Green looked to be full-go. He was not in a green jersey, moving around freely and with good burst. He did not participate in the Fastball Start. Trelon Smith, TJ Hammonds and Ryan Winkel were again not present.

• Center Ricky Stromberg, back in a limited capacity following an MCL injury earlier in camp, was in green again. He was the only present offensive lineman in the no-contact top. Sam Pittman said last weekend that he would be “kind of shocked” if he wasn’t back for this weekend’s scrimmage. We’ll see just how much work, if any, he gets Saturday — two weeks out from Game 1.

• While quarterbacks were finishing warmup drills with Kendal Briles, wide receivers were on the far end of the indoor facility running routes on air. Kenny Guiton, the first-year receivers coach and former Ohio State quarterback, was throwing to them. He’s still got a good arm, and he zipped passes to each player.

• The Razorbacks began the day with their Fastball Start. Here is how depth played out 1-3:


KJ Jefferson
Malik Hornsby
Lucas Coley

Raheim Sanders
Javion Hunt
Donte Buckner

Blake Kern
Hudson Henry
Nathan Bax

Ketron Jackson
Kendall Catalon
Darin Turner

Jaquayln Crawford
Bryce Stephens
Harper Cole

Trey Knox
John David White
Jaedon Wilson

Myron Cunningham
Jalen St. John
Devon Manuel

Brady Latham
Luke Jones
Cole Carson

Ty Clary
Shane Clenin
Austin Nix

Beaux Limmer
Drew Vest
Terry Wells

Dalton Wagner
Ty’Kieast Crawford
Marcus Henderson

Notes: The best play of the segment from the offense came from Cole, who once he got the ball in his hands on a pitch, made a defender miss with a nice cut up the field for what would have been a 10-plus yard gain. White also caught a pass on a slant from Hornsby after beating Hudson Clark. You’d obviously like to have Smith getting reps at tailback right now, but what his absence is allowing is Sanders to grow more and more comfortable with the top unit. Other plays:

Jefferson took a high snap from Clary and ran for a short gain, Sanders ran twice between the tackles for short gains then Jefferson hit Sanders on a swing pass near the right sideline.

Hornsby kept the ball and ran left for a few yards, completed a pass to Hunt for around 5 yards then checked down to Hunt on the right side of the field.

Coley ran left for a short gain, Buckner ran left for a minimal gain then Coley threw incomplete for Wilson on a deep ball with Zach Zimos in coverage.


Dorian Gerald
Markell Utsey
Jashaud Stewart

Isaiah Nichols
John Ridgeway
Eric Gregory/Taurean Carter

Tre Williams
Zach Williams
Mataio Soli

Grant Morgan
Andrew Parker
Deon Edwards

Hayden Henry
Bumper Pool
Jackson Woodard

Montaric Brown
Hudson Clark
Khari Johnson

LaDarrius Bishop
Devin Bush
Nick Turner

Greg Brooks
Myles Slusher
Jacorrei Turner

Jalen Catalon
Malik Chavis
Nathan Parodi

Joe Foucha
Jayden Johnson
Zach Zimos

Simeon Blair
Trent Gordon

Notes: The third-team defense went with a 4-down front again after the top two units worked a 3-down look. Gerald and Nichols moved up to the first team today, replacing Utsey and Ridgeway, who had consistently been getting first-team reps. Everything else was about as expected.

I’m sure I’ve missed something, but what exactly is the Fastball Start?

It appears to be like 2 minute warning type drives, the run them about as quickly as they can.

Are tight ends involved in these scrimmages?

They did not scrimmage today. But yes, when they scrimmage, tight ends are involved.

First, second and third-team offenses get four plays against the first, second and third-team defenses at the beginning of practice.

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Notes from offensive coordinator Kendal Briles’ availability on Friday:

• I feel like we’re right where we need to be in camp. The main thing you want is guys learning and retaining, and we’re doing that at every position.

• Backup quarterback: KJ is No. 1, Malik is No. 2 and neither guy has let go. In the No. 3 spot, we’ve got three guys getting reps and they’re all different in terms of ability.

• Receivers are coming along strong. Coach Kenny Guiton has done a great job with them. Physicality in blocking has been solid and emphasized in camp. It’s so important for our offense and what we do. Treylon Burks is a leader in there. De’Vion Warren is looking healthy.

• On Warren Thompson: I spent an entire year with him. I know him well, and there’s a reason he’s here. Really willing to learn. He’s had a nagging injury (hamstring) most of camp, but he’s starting to get healthy. He’s hard to cover and has great quickness and range. Got to get a little better blocking on the perimeter. I like where he’s at. He’s definitely going to provide some depth for us.

• On Jefferson: I thought he did a nice job overall in the spring. We wanted to work on his mobility and accuracy in practice during the summer. He’s really worked on getting stronger and physically more capable to run the offense. I’d like him to be over 65% with his completion percentage.

• Today was AJ Green’s fourth practice. He came back and was rusty in practice yesterday. Trelon Smith will be out there tomorrow for the scrimmage, but we’ll see how much work he gets.

• KJ is under 245 pounds now. I’m not concerned with his weight. I think 235 is about an optimal weight for him. But I don’t care if he’s 285 pounds as long as he’s running the offense well and dropping dimes on defenses.

• Ketron Jackson is by far the most improved player on the offense. He’s a very talented kid. We knew he had a ton of pop. He’s the Ketron we thought he would be.

• On Rocket Sanders: Coach Jimmy Smith has done a great job with him. He’s a 226-pound kid who is a home-run back. Very tough player, runs between the tackles and has a really quick step. Arm tackles aren’t going to bring him down, and he’s improved in pass pro. He’s got good hands out of the backfield, too. I’m really excited about him and the future he’s going to have here.

• On Ty’Kieast Crawford: He’s been up and down. We kind of thought he would be that way from a physical ability standpoint, but he’s got all the tools. He’s going to keep working to be what he can be. He’s got a chance to be an All-America, NFL-type player. He’s gotten better and he took another step today.

• On Feleipe Franks’ long run in a preseason game recently: We got to see that as a QB room. We thought he played really well. I hear he’s been doing good. We’ve been in contact with him and, man, we’re proud of him.

• Landon Rogers came to us and said he thought he could help us at tight end. He’s got a great frame. Add 10-15 pounds to that frame, he can help us.

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