FAYETTEVILLE – From Monday through Wednesday this last preseason week, the Arkansas Razorbacks shift their daily practices from morning to late afternoon into the early evening.
Following Wednesday’s scrimmage, the last full scale scrimmage of preseason, they will practice Thursday morning and have a completely closed Friday practice with some contact before Saturday’s dress rehearsal at Reynolds Razorback Stadium precedes game week preparations for the Aug. 31 season opener against Portland State.
The Portland State game kicks off at 3 p.m. at Reynolds Razorback Stadium and will be televised by the SEC Network.
With senior receiver Deon Stewart of Hardy apparently out for the season with a knee injury suffered during last Saturday’s scrimmage and junior receiver Jordan Jones also injured last Saturday and possibly sidelined for awhile, Coach Chad Morris than ever must count on the influx of freshman receivers recruited for this 2019 signing class.
According to one who scrimmaged against them, sophomore first-team free safety Joe Foucha, they are ready to produce.
“Every day they show me something different,” Foucha said after Saturday’s scrimmage. “The physicality is there. They have long arms. Between Treylon Burks (6-3, 222) and Trey Knox (6-5, 225), the size is there. To me, those guys are going to explode because they came in ready. They didn’t have to come in and get physical or have to learn the playbook. It’s all there.”
All are fast with T.Q. Jackson (6-4, 197 of Jefferson, Texas) reportedly the fastest of the freshman receiver newcomers.
For his part, Foucha has impressed Morris and defensive backfield coaches Ron Cooper and Mark Smith.
“He’s really had the best spring and the best fall camp that I’ve seen,” Morris said.
Foucha added to that perception intercepting a pass last Saturday.
A true freshman last year via New Orleans, Foucha said a full year under strength and conditioning coach Trumain Carroll has improved his speed. But it’s the year’s experience that really has him playing faster.
“ Year Two things have pretty much slowed down for me,” Foucha said. “As far as my first year, it was more speed wise. I was always physical, like when they put me in the Razorback Drill or the Champion Drill, I was always physical. But now ust knowing what the quarterback is thinking, just hiding that I’m going to the post, or just showing I have grown into the player I want to be. I still have more room to go. But this camp is going well for me because the speed has changed.”
With the shoulder injury he hid from the Razorbacks staff last year surgically repaired, junior second-year junior college transfer running back Rakeem Boyd has shined this preseason.
So did senior running back Devwah Whaley during the scrimmage, Morris said.
“I thought that both of those running backs were patient and they found some of the holes inside,” Morris said. “They were patient and knew when to hit it.”
Running backs coach Jeff Traylor confessed that even as Boyd led last year’s 2-10 Hogs in rushing netting 734 yards on 123 carries, he harped on Boyd’s need to be tougher not realizing the shoulder condition that Boyd kept quiet.
“I called him soft,” Traylor said. “Everything you can say as a coach to motivate somebody and then you find out he’s got a torn labrum and a rotator cuff. I went from 6-3 to 4-10 in a day. I felt terrible. He’s a tough young man.”