HawgBeat Camp Notebook: Hogs under the lights, QB play, LG battle, more
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FAYETTEVILLE — Now in the back half of camp, Arkansas changed things up for Thursday’s practice.
In their 14th of 25 preseason practices, the Razorbacks went into Reynolds Razorback Stadium for just the second time under new head coach Sam Pittman and worked for about an hour and 45 minutes under the lights, as practice started around 7 p.m.
Pittman said the late start was intended to simulate the kickoff time of Arkansas’ three games currently slated to start at 6:30 p.m., as practices are usually in the afternoon, and he felt the team accomplished what he wanted.
“Anytime you switch the atmosphere, you go into the stadium, you hope you get what we got tonight, and that was energy,” Pittman said. “Obviously it was not as hot, but this new venue, you’re in the stadium, you’re the home of the Razorbacks. We got the energy.”
It was easy to see Pittman was happy with the shorter-than-normal practice. He was in a particularly chipper mood during a Zoom videoconference with local media afterward, cracking jokes and even complimenting a young reporter who was wearing a suit.
A big reason for that was the physicality, strain and finish on both sides of the ball Pittman witnessed during the team’s inside run period. The first-year coach was particularly pleased with the play of the linebackers and he specifically praised Deon Edwards and Andrew Parker for their growth throughout camp, while mentioning Hayden Henry had a good day, too.
Also on defense, Pittman said he doesn’t talk about defensive end Eric Gregory as much as he should because he made a lot of plays Thursday. Fellow defensive end Julius Coates had a pick-six in practice, as well.
The highlight of the day, though, came at the end of practice when he put a couple of defensive linemen against a couple of defensive linemen in a kick-catching competition.
Pittman was convinced Coates, who has showcased his athleticism throughout camp, would catch the ball, but he dropped it. Instead, offensive lineman Beaux Limmer caught a punt and defensive lineman Jonathan Marshall caught a kickoff. Offensive lineman Shane Clenin also dropped his attempt.
“They’re tied on the board drill, so I was trying to break the tie,” Pittman said with a smile. “They went 1 and 1. Each side dropped one and each side caught one, so they’re still tied.”
With three interceptions, Pittman was blunt with the media after last Friday’s scrimmage when he said the quarterbacks didn’t look good and didn’t make good decisions.
It’s still unknown who threw the picks, but it was a stark contrast to the first scrimmage in which they dominated the defense.
Luckily for the Razorbacks, that performance hasn’t lingered into this week. Pittman sounded happy with their play in practice, specifically mentioning that Feleipe Franks had an “outstanding practice” on Thursday.
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