October 2, 2014

Keeping Focused

At the halfway point in the Razorbacks spring practice work, everything seems to be going to plan.  The 164-play scrimmage last Friday seemed to please Coach Petrino after what was an up and down week of practice.

Bobby Petrino (AP Photo/Beth Hall)“I think we are on track,” Petrino said.  “We had one day where we didn’t do things right on the practice field.  Usually that starts with your focus and your concentration in the meeting room.  We didn’t progress the way we needed to that day.  I am sure you all know what day that was.”

That day was last Tuesday (practice #5), as the coaches spent much of the day verbally roasting everybody within earshot for their lack of effort.  The display also included Petrino heaving a non-NCAA football up into the stands, and numerous player scuffles which were followed by wind sprints with the offending players being sent to the showers early.

You can almost set your watch by these ‘bad practices.’  They usually occur sometime during practices 3-6, both in the spring or fall.  Players start to get a little sore and maybe feeling a little sorry for themselves.  Position battles cause little flare-ups that draw the ire of coaches outwardly, while there must be a little part of them that likes to see that spirit.

These ‘bad days’ are always followed by days of progress where coaches tend to build them back up after tearing them down.  All in all, it makes for an entertaining 2+ hours of ‘theatre’ every practice.

Here are a few things that have caught our attention:

  • After the knee injury to starting guard Wade Grayson, redshirt freshman Alvin Bailey (6-5, 323) has more than stepped into that starting spot and performed extremely well.  Bailey, who was set to challenge at one of the guard positions anyway, may be hard to unseat now.  Wally Pipp anyone?
  • While Ronnie Wingo, Jr. was awarded the starting tailback spot before spring practice began, it appears that there is little separation between him, Knile Davis and Broderick Green.  In the two scrimmages to date, all three have posted similar numbers.  And unless something drastically changes in the next few weeks, a running back by committee approach seems likely.
  • With starting quarterback Ryan Mallett on the sidelines, the tight ends appear to be seeing a few more passes thrown in their direction.  D.J. Williams (82 yards, 2 TDs), Chris Gragg (90 yards, TD) and Austin Tate (60 yards, TD) combined for 22 catches in Friday’s scrimmage.
  • We’ll give the defense a few more days to work before rendering a final verdict, but Friday’s scrimmage was not good for the men in white.  164 plays equates to roughly two games of plays.  The 947 yards and 14 TDs were great for the offense, but would average out to 473.5 yards and 49 points per game on defense.  Yikes!

Petrino seems upbeat about the work the Hogs have put in thus far, but knows there is much to be gained over the next few weeks.

“We are pushing these guys hard.  It’s time to step up the intensity and step up making sure we are doing things right and playing with great effort.”

The Hogs’ spring game is set for April 24th at 6 pm.  The game follows RazorFest activities that, weather permitting, should make for a fun day in the Ozarks.

  • Hawgfan100

    “Yikes!”

    [eye-roll] Yeah, its a good thing our defense doesn’t have to play our offense every game next season. And its good that the D can run more than its base defense when it feels the need (as opposed to only when the coaches allow it in favor of the ‘seeing what the O can do’…) And it will be really great when our defense can hit the QB every time it earns a hit on him instead of…you know…

    Let’s see what the Hogs put on the field next year for defense rather than intimating our D may be stillborn in the Spring, shall we?

    • http://www.razorbloggers.net Walking on Sunshine

      The defense may have been holding some stuff back Friday, but not a lot. Anthony Leon and Ramon Brodway both tallied sacks from their secondary positions. They did that “holding back” some early on, but not so much of late. HDN used to do that all the time, making his offense look better. Very true that they can’t hit the QB, which makes a big difference.

      Like I said, not a final verdict on the defense yet.

  • GolfHog

    It’s hard for me to get too excited about Spring ball this year. Don’t get me wrong. I love Petrino, love the team he has built, at least on the offensive side of the ball. Wouldn’t change a thing.

    And,

    With incremental improvement, we have the same questions as last year with very little change except an 8-5 season and some time in the wieght room. Petrino will get it done. But, this is the SEC. It has always been about line play, offense and defense. You must win in the trenches. And, about defense. We are still going against the grain here, swimming up stream.

    It is an exciting style of play. If it works, it may change some of the ways we think about football in the SEC. Or, we may have a bit more work to do.

  • Soupdhog

    On one hand, our offense did the same thing to most SEC defenses last year. The bad news is that our 2nd and 3rd string QBs are tearing up our defense this spring.

    I will withhold judgement until fall, but if our defense doesn’t improve it will be a shame. We have a chance for a special season if we could improve by 60 YPG on defense.

  • opionatedblowhard

    How do you feel about the safety position? Do we have any linebackers that can hit, plug a hole and cover a back out of the backfield? How does Mitchel stand up against Wilson?

  • http://www.razorbloggers.net Walking on Sunshine

    I like the safety rotation of Anthony Leon, Tramain Thomas and Elton Ford. Coaches are raving about Leon’s progress and gains in the offseason. Thomas and Ford have proven to be playmakers in the past.

    Mitchell is looking crisp, definate run/pass threat. Is a “willing runner” as Coach McGee says. Wilson looks good, and is a natural in the Pistol (Shot) formation. (Get ready for lots more of that when Mallett leaves).

    As for the linebackers…just my opinion…I don’t think there’s a linebacker on campus that could start for a quality, top tier, Division I defense right now. Soph’s Terrell Williams (6-3, 237) and Austin Moss (6-3, 227) are still improving, and may emerge. But the others are all juniors and seniors and seemed to have maxed out.

  • Hawgfan100

    What about Rasner at FS? Word is he’s taking Leon’s time with 1′s now?

  • Hawgfan100

    Also, what about Tank with the linebackers when he returns? Should be some help at the position, yea?