Arkansas Razorbacks 2020 Fall Camp Notebook: Interceptions, touchdowns highlight Day 2, early standouts, more
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HawgBeat Camp Notebook: INTs, TDs highlight Day 2, early standouts, more

Montaric Brown comes down with an interception in Monday's practice.
Montaric Brown comes down with an interception in Monday's practice. (Arkansas Athletics)

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FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas was still only in helmets for its second practice of preseason camp Wednesday afternoon, but it sounds like a theme is emerging in the secondary.

Montaric Brown seemingly has a knack for coming down with interceptions. He picked off a pass intended for freshman Darin Turner in the first practice and said he had a couple more Wednesday.

It’s obviously still early, but the fourth-year junior cornerback and former four star recruit is apparently thriving so far in defensive coordinator Barry Odom’s new system.

“Coach Odom gives me so many opportunities just to make plays,” Brown said. “I love Coach Odom. His scheme is just perfect. He’s going to help us. He’s a great coach. He knows what he’s doing, and his background tells it all.”

Brown also mentioned that sophomore Greg Brooks Jr. had an interception.

Offensively, it sounds like junior Mike Woods was the standout among the wide receivers. He said he caught three touchdown passes from Feleipe Franks.

He said sophomore Treylon Burks, fifth-year senior T.J. Hammonds and redshirt sophomore walk-on Peyton Ausley came down with touchdown catches, as well.

“Overall it was a great practice,” Woods said. “Everybody was flying around, great execution. There’s obviously some things we could clean up, but as a whole, I think our execution is on track to be where we’re supposed to be at.”

Quarterback Situation

As you would expect from a receiver, Woods was very complimentary of all the quarterbacks on Arkansas’ roster. He said he feels like they’re picking up the offense well, as indicated by their calls at the line of scrimmage, and they’re looking good.

Considering he threw the three touchdown passes he caught, though, it’s no surprise that Woods has been particularly impressed with Franks.

“He's making throws on the run, he makes his reads real quick,” Franks said. “As soon as you come out of the break, the ball is right there. I love the timing. He knows audibles at the line and different things to do. He's really experienced and mature, and he knows how to run an offense.”

The graduate transfer from Florida has even caught the attention and earned the respect of the secondary. When asked about the receivers, Brown couldn’t help but mention how good Franks has been with getting everyone the ball.

“Having Feleipe, that's another weapon,” Brown said. “Feleipe can put the ball anywhere, so you just have to be on your toes and do your job.”

Offensive Installation

It may have seemed like typical coach-speak to outsiders, but offensive coordinator Kendal Briles saying last week that about 75 percent of the offense had been installed going into camp was music to Arkansas fans’ ears.

That was a major criticism of former head coach Chad Morris and his offense, as they played the entire 2018 season with only about 30-35 percent of the offense installed and were still at 65-70 percent more than a week into fall camp of his second year.

With more of a playbook at their disposal, Woods feels much more comfortable with the offense at this point of the season.

“Obviously it puts us in a better position because we have different things we can run and more things we can run and more ways to alter the original plays and stuff like that,” Woods said. “I think the offense as a whole, we’re looking really good. I think it’s pretty simple and we have a lot of concepts, so I think we have a lot of different ways we can beat teams.”

Hammonds’ Position

Although he’s listed as a running back on the roster, Briles mentioned last week that Hammonds - the former four-star recruit - had been spending some time with the receivers, as well.

Considering he did a little bit of everything in high school and was listed as an athlete coming out of Joe T. Robinson in Little Rock, that was always viewed as a possibility.

Previous coaching staffs have had a hard time finding a specific role for him, but he’s been explosive in limited playing time. He didn’t want to comment on his exact role, but Woods did tell reporters that he’s liked what he’s seen from Hammonds as a receiver so far.

“Right now he’s with the receivers and he’s looking pretty good,” Woods said. “He’s a fast kid, he’s picking up the playbook pretty good, his route running is pretty good, so overall T.J.’s looking pretty good right now.”

Who’s at Nickel?

Brooks started every game at nickel back as a true freshman last season. Although he struggled, he did show some flashes of the potential that made him a four-star recruit coming out of Louisiana.

As expected, Brown said he is getting reps at nickel in camp. A bit more surprising was the other name Brown mentioned as getting reps at nickel - Khari Johnson. The true freshman from Connecticut was a two-star recruit.

Another player who has previously been mentioned as getting some work at nickel is Jerry Jacobs, the graduate transfer from Arkansas State.

Impressions of Crawford

Although he won’t be eligible to play this season as a transfer from Oklahoma, Jaquayln Crawford is already impressing his teammates. The former four-star recruit played sparingly for the Sooners, but Woods is really high on him and believes he could have a solid future with the Razorbacks.

“He’s a fast kid and he has some wiggle to him,” Woods said. “He knows how to get up there and dance on the DB, create space. He’s really fast and he can create space.”

Secondary Standouts

Considering he’s already made multiple interceptions at practice, it wasn’t surprising to hear Woods mention Brown as one of the defensive backs who have impressed him early on.

“With his hips, he’s smooth and fluid,” Woods said. “He knows his leverage and how to leverage against the receivers, how to close the gap between.”

The other name that came up multiple times during Wednesday’s post-practice interviews was Jacobs. It’s still unclear exactly where he’ll play, but it sounds like he’ll have a role in the secondary.

“He is a great teammate, a funny teammate,” Brown said. “He's very versatile. He can play safety, nickel and corner. He can help with a lot. He has got all the tools.”

As far as safeties are concerned, Woods mentioned redshirt freshman Jalen Catalon - who missed Wednesday’s practice with a knee injury - and freshman Myles Slusher as early standouts. He described Slusher, a four-star recruit out of Tulsa, as “really fluid” and said he believes he’s going to be really good at Arkansas.

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