Arkansas Razorback Football

Nate Allen

FAYETTEVILLE – Most likely it’s time.  Time perhaps enhanced these off these last two Fridays first  leading the offense through an excellent scrimmage and then this week rallying the offense after it was defensively dominated.

Whatever, Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman sees a marked  progression in graduate transfer Feleipe Franks conversion from former Florida Gators quarterback to the quarterback leading the Razorbacks whom he joined last January.

“ Obviously Feleipe is running a lot with the ones for us and  he’s coming into his own,” Pittman said Wednesday night on his first Sam Pittman Live radio show.

Pittman described what beset Franks, losing not only his starting job but the remainder of the 2019 season breaking his ankle in the third game, to joining the Razorbacks with spring practice dissolved before it started because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

UA classes shut down in mid-March.

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 “You know wouldn’t it be difficult to come into a new team as a quarterback and you don’t know anybody?” Pittman said.  “You’re trying to lead but you can’t  lead because you can’t tell somebody, ‘Hey, Billy, you’re doing something wrong” because you don’t know the guy’s name.  It’s hard to lead. “

But getting easier.

 “Just recently he really  has come into his own,” Pittman said.  “This week I noticed him being more vocal with the football team. The expectation of your team has to start with the head coach but it has to trickle down and one of those positions has to be your quarterback.”

Offensively, even with the defense dominating last Friday, Pittman has liked the development at running back, receiver and the offensive line.

Left guard still seems the most wide open spot on the line though Pittman Wednesday night found favor with redshirt freshman Brady Latham.

“A guy I’ve really been  impressed with is Brady Latham,” Pittman said.  “He’s a guy that can play any position. He’s got a lot of value.”

Tight end remains 2-deep unresolved.

“Our tight ends are young for the most part,” Pittman said, That doesn’t  mean they can’t play but they are inexperienced. 

Right now we’re just a little more comfortable playing 11 personnel with one tight end. But we’re trying to work for depth and trying  that if we want to be a 2-tight end team that we can get them both on the field at the same time.”

Other than senior Blake Kern of Lamar, previously a reserve most often on special teams, it’s a rookie or near rookie group.

Hudson Henry played the maximum four games still allowed to redshirt as a 2019 freshman.  Nathan Bax redshirted last year as a transfer from Illinois State  while Blayne Toll of Hazen, originally recruited as a defensive end, and Collin Sutherland are true freshmen.

For what Pittman and offensive coordinator Kendal Briles demand, a couple of tight ends need quickly to come of age.

“He’s not just a physical blocker,” Pittman said of what the position requires.   “That’s part of it. But our tight end has to be able to flex out  vertical and beat a safety and beat a  nickel on top of him.  He’s got to be a very athletic guy. And he’s got to have some stamina to him because we’re going to ask him to do a lot of things.”

Photos courtesy of Craven Whitlow, CW3 Sports Action

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