Top goals for Arkansas' second scrimmage of camp
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FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas will take the field inside Reynolds Razorback Stadium for its final full scrimmage of camp Friday.
It will be the Razorbacks’ first time inside their Northwest Arkansas home since a 45-19 blowout loss to Western Kentucky that served as the final nail in the coffin of the Chad Morris era.
That means it’ll also be the first time Sam Pittman enters Razorback Stadium in charge of the program he worked for as an offensive line coach from 2013-15. Nostalgia aside, it’s a big day for Arkansas, which is still figuring things out ahead of its Sept. 26 opener against Georgia.
Chief among the first-year coach’s areas he most wants to see improvement from last week’s scrimmage is mental toughness. He’s said multiple times that the team is in shape, but not necessarily in game shape.
Pittman was careful to distinguish between the two because he doesn’t think the Razorbacks are physically out of shape. Rather, it’s more about the mental side of things and bouncing back when things aren’t going their way, as the mind affects your whole body.
“I believe we practice hard, I believe we have plenty of conditioning, but I believe our mind needs to be stronger so we can work through those situations,” Pittman said. “I don’t necessarily think we’re in bad shape. I think we just have to be a stronger football team mentally.”
Neither scrimmage has or will be open to the public or media, but based on comments from coaches and players, it sounds like the offense had a better day than the defense last Friday.
Presumed starting quarterback Feleipe Franks threw four touchdown passes and had his most accurate day of camp, while backup quarterback KJ Jefferson threw one touchdown and did some damage with his legs.
Part of the reason for the offense’s success was that the defense wore down quickly, but Pittman doesn’t expect that to happen again.
“I thought our defense fatigued faster than our offense, and therefore they got outplayed,” Pittman said. “They had not been that way necessarily in the practices, so I anticipate that being amped up quite a little bit Friday for our next scrimmage.”
The offense eventually got worn out, too, but offensive coordinator Kendal Briles is not concerned with where they’re at right now. He agreed with Pittman that it’s an area they’ll have to continue working in practice and he’s confident they’ll be in game shape by Week 1 of the season.
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