Hogs Complete Sixth Practice
By Otis Kirk
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas returned to the practice fields on Tuesday and Sam Pittman liked how the intensity improved as the day progressed.
It was Arkansas’ sixth practice, but first since March 16 when they took off for spring break.
“I thought we started a little slow,” Pittman said. “Inside run, then taking it over to Slot Drill, I thought that was a little, I didn’t feel like we were banging quite like we needed to there. But it picked up. We had a light scrimmage at the end of practice on get-the-ball back, two minute.
“That was probably about 8 plays. We had short-yardage, third down, which we obviously needed. That was a big point of emphasis from last year, third-and-1, third-and 2. Had a lot of situations today. I think it certainly showed that we’ve been gone for 12 days since the last practice we had. But at the same time, I thought the kids pushed through it really well and I think we got a lot better as the day went on.”
Pittman talked more about the energy increasing later in the practice.
“It did,” Pittman said. “Yeah, it did. It was just early in practice that I… and everything that happens out there is either good, and our coaches have done a nice job, or it’s bad and I haven’t got us motivated enough. Obviously my team meeting wasn’t motivational enough because I thought we were sluggish. But, again, they hadn’t practiced for 12 days. But it did pick up, and I thought it was very spirited after the inside run period, which I think was period six. So, the rest of practice I thought went pretty well.”
While KJ Jefferson is firmly established at quarterback, North Carolina transfer Jacolby Criswell and true freshman Malachi Singleton appear to be playing with much more confidence. The two were making plays at the scrimmage and then again on Tuesday they weren’t making in the first few practices.
“I think what we’ve seen about both of them is right now, they’re better gamers than let’s say situations — I’m talking about like 7 on 7,” Pittman said. “They’re both fine in 7 on 7, but once you put a situation behind them, they seem to make plays. That’s both of them and I’ve been really pleased with both of those guys.”
Criswell was a standout at Morrilton High School before choosing North Carolina. However, Criswell went into the transfer portal following the 2022 season and returned home to play for the Hogs.
Pittman also talked about what has stood out to him after the first five practices.
“I think the thing that stuck out the most was our defensive end play,” Pittman said. “I think we have guys that we can be in a four-down rush and they can get to the quarterback. We also have a little bit more size there. Adding (Trajan) Jeffcoat there really has been a big addition for the D-line and certainly John Morgan is a pass-rushing guy that has made a lot of plays. I think that would be the No. 1 thing.
“I think the rise of Carson Dean would be something else that stood out as I reviewed the first five. Carson Dean I think will be able to play for us this year. Antonio Grier is going to be a good linebacker for us. These are just new guys that kind of stood out to me. We’ve talked about the secondary, we’ve talked about (Joshua) Braun, who certainly has picked up the offense and looked really well.”
Jeffcoat is a transfer from Missouri who is a former All-SEC player. Morgan came from Pitt. Grier transferred in from USF and Dean is a true freshman from Carrollton (Texas) Hebron.
Arkansas will hold Pro Day on Wednesday and then return to the practice fields on Thursday.