FAYETTEVILLE – The spring practice run-blocking emphasis that Arkansas Head Coach/longtime ex-offensive line coach Sam Pittman put on the offensive line indeed has improved run-blocking, Arkansas junior center Ricky Stromberg said.
Stromberg and defensive tackle Taurean Carter addressed media after the Razorbacks practiced Thursday, their final practice before Saturday’s 2 p.m. Red-White intrasquad game at Reynolds Razorback Stadium marks the 15th and final practice date of spring football drills.
““I think I have progressed in the run game mostly,” Stromberg said. “Like combo fits with the guards, I think I progressed in that. I think last year I was decent at it, but I think I have gotten a lot better this spring.”
Not that he’s neglecting pass-protection for quarterbacks KJ Jefferson and Malik Hornsby.
“I still want to work on pass protection a little bit more,” Stromberg said. I think that was one of my strong suits last year, but I want to continue to grow in every aspect of it.”
Stromberg was asked about Carter, the 6-3, 300 third-year sophomore letterman stepping up to the defensive nose tackle position vacated by 2020 graduate Jonathan Marshall.
“TC uses his hands really well,” Stromberg said. “He is able to grab my hands sometime. Sometimes I shoot my hands and he grabs them. Not a lot of D-lineman I have played have been able to do that. He uses his hands really well as a D-lineman. That is a big thing for a defensive linemen.”
Carter was asked about practicing against Stromberg, 6-4, 316.
“To me Ricky is the best center I ever went against,” Carter said. “I don’t tell him that, but he’s the best I ever went against. He uses his body so well. He’ll let you do what he wants you to do and seals you off.”
After a redshirt year, Carter lettered in 2020 as a reserve who played most extensively when injuries afflicted the Hogs’ defensive line before their game with LSU.
“I felt I that I could fit in this conference,” Carter said. “That I was able to compete. I’ve got to work on finishing and making an impact in the game.”
The LSU game, he logged three tackles, was most personally significant.
“”It helped me a lot,” Carter said. “It helped me feel where I was at. It’s a lot of things in the game of football that I picked up that day, and I’m glad they happened the way they did. I know what that’s like so I’m trying to get adjusted now.”
Carter was asked what he’s looking to derive from Saturday’s game.
“Try to win, man,” Carter said. “I’m on the Red team (the first defense and second offense) and we’re going against the White team with the first offense. We are going to bring our best and try to win this thing.”
Stromberg was asked about second-year freshman Marcus Henderson logging a White team start at offensive tackle with both incumbent right tackle Dalton Wagner and transfer Ty’Kieast Crawford both injured.
“Marcus has come a long way,” Stromberg said. “Marcus is really smart and super athletic. Ray (Curry, a second-year freshman offensive tackle) is doing pretty well, too. All of the young guys are doing pretty good and they just need to keep going and buying in.”
Stromberg was asked what he personally wants to accomplish in Saturday’s game.
“Just try and dominate as an offensive line and have a good game and have a lot of fun, too,” Stromberg said.