Spring practice report: Pittman praises defense, criticizes offensive effort

by Nate Allen

FAYETTEVILLE – Sam Pittman didn’t recount any particularly outstanding plays from last Saturday’s scrimmage but after Tuesday’s practice, Arkansas’ coach mentioned some Razorbacks standouts from Saturday’s scrimmage.

Drew Sanders, the linebacker transferred from Alabama to Arkansas was one of them.

With Grant Morgan and Hayden Henry graduated from last year’s alternating two among a triumvirate with Bumper Pool, Sanders comes ready made to start alongside Pool.

Sanders apparently made good on that start last Saturday.

“I really liked the way Drew Sanders played,” Pittman said Tuesday. “I like the way he played for us.”

What specifically does he like from Sanders?

“Drew is  instinctive,” Pittman said,  “He can really run. I think he ran an 11 flat 100 meter at whatever he’s at. He’s big. But he’s instinctive, he can run. He kind of fits us. He’s tough and smart. I really like the kid. I like him a lot and think he’s going to be a really, really good player in this league.”

Returning defensive tackles Isaiah Nichols and Taurean Carter drew plaudits, too.

Pittman applauded not just their Saturday scrimmage but helped the defense dominate Tuesday’s practice, too.

Their emergence should allow defensive coordinator Barry Odom to incorporate more 4-man fronts, Pittman said.

“I think the rise of Taurean Carter has allowed to go to that four-man front faster,” Pittman said.  “I think he and Nichols are playing the best of the entire defensive line.”

Redshirt freshman linebacker Chris “Pooh” Paul, also stood out in last Saturday’s scrimmage, before suffering a concussion, Pittman said.

Paul did not practice Tuesday. Nor did tight end Trey Knox, in concussion protocol since being injured in an automobile accident last week.

Junior running back Dominique Johnson, the top running back by last season’s end, won’t practice at all this spring, because he is recovering from injuries, Pittman said Tuesday.

The running back room is still well stocked with Rocket Sanders, AJ Green and true freshman Rashod Dubinion, who enrolled in January.

“Dubinion continues to play well,” Pittman said. “He’s a good football player.”

Pittman said versatile Brady Latham, a starting guard last season, also works at left offensive guard along with versatile senior Luke Jones who has previously played guard and center.

Malik Hornsby, who has practiced both at quarterback and receiver lately, scrimmaged last Saturday at quarterback, Pittman said.

Pittman praised the Saturday scrimmages of Hornsby and transfer Cade Fortin, the quarterbacks, along with Lucas Coley, working behind starrer KJ Jefferson.

However he gave the offense an earful Tuesday, saying the defense dominated Tuesday’s practice.

“I just didn’t like our effort, and I didn’t like our competitiveness on the offensive side of the ball,” Pittman said.  “And I told them after practice, ‘There’s going to be series that you lose, there’s going to be plays that you lose. But your mind has to get you out of, ‘I’ve lost’ or ‘I’m tired.’ Nobody cares. It’s ‘fix the problem.’ I thought we were not as tough mentally as what Arkansas Razorbacks should be.”

The Razorbacks finish the week with practices Thursday and Saturday and have eight remaining of the 15 allotted by the NCAA.

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