Arkansas Razorbacks players noticing differences between Chad Morris, Sam Pittman
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Players noticing differences between Morris, Pittman

Head coach Sam Pittman talks with walk-on offensive lineman Austin Nix.
Head coach Sam Pittman talks with walk-on offensive lineman Austin Nix. (Arkansas Athletics)

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FAYETTEVILLE — It remains to be seen what kind of impact it’ll have on Saturdays this fall, but some Arkansas players have noticed a jarring difference in the way camp has been conducted so far.

Led by first-year head coach Sam Pittman, the Razorbacks are four practices into camp and about a month out from the Sept. 26 opener against Georgia. They were coached by Chad Morris the last two years, which were back-to-back 2-10 seasons.

When asked about the differences between the two staffs during a Zoom videoconference after Monday’s practice, wide receiver Treylon Burks pointed to culture rather than any scheme changes.

“It’s a big difference,” Burks said. “Coach Pittman, he cares about his players. … I just like the fact that even the highest player, he’ll get on to them.

“He’s going to treat everybody the same. Even a walk-on or me, anybody, Rakeem (Boyd) -- he’s going to treat everybody the same. I just like that he’s an all-around good man and that’s what we need on our staff.”

That comment seems to give some credence to the anonymous quote that circulated on Twitter last summer, indicating Morris separated the walk-ons from the scholarship players in the locker room and treated them poorly.

With new offensive and defensive coordinators, as well, there are also some schematic changes the players have picked up on.

Wide receiver Mike Woods mentioned last week that tempo was “going to be a big deal” and Pittman said the goal is to wear out the receivers in practice to prepare them for the pace they’ll play at in games.

The Razorbacks are trying to put pressure on defenses in offensive coordinator Kendal Briles’ system, but that also puts pressure on their big offensive linemen.

“I'm still getting used to going as fast as Coach Briles wants us to go, but it's getting better each day,” left tackle Myron Cunningham said. “It's definitely way faster than last year. Compared to last year, it's like a whole other thing.”

On the other side of the ball, speed is still important, but not at the cost of teaching in practice. The entire 15-minute viewing period for the media Monday featured position groups doing individual drills.

HawgBeat was positioned on the defensive practice field and observed a methodical pace that involved position coaches frequently stopping the drill to provide instructions and corrections. That is not lost on defensive end Dorian Gerald.

“No knock to anyone last year, but it’s a lot more technical now, it’s a lot more detailed, a lot more specific,” Gerald said. “Everything is attention to detail, like small things - footwork, everything. I think Coach LeBlanc is doing a great job of coaching us. I didn’t personally get this much coaching in my first two years here.”

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