FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas hosted its local media day Sunday afternoon, when all Razorback players and coaches were available for interviews with reporters.
The Hogs didn’t actually practice Sunday, but will return to the field for their fourth practice of fall camp Monday.
- One of the first things Bielema did during his media day news conference was clarify the situation regarding freshman linebacker Giovanni LaFrance. Bielema apologized for not making his situation clear Thursday when the initial 105-man roster came out. Once LaFrance’s hand injury is healed, he will return to the active roster.
- Sophomore walk-on wide receiver Luke Rossi — who mostly played on special teams last year but did make one start — has been removed from the 105-man roster because of a hamstring injury. He’s been replaced on the roster by Troy Allison, a walk-on sophomore who began his career as a quarterback but is now playing wide receiver.
What we know
- Finding out who will back up Austin Allen at quarterback this season is a priority, Bielema said. Sophomore Rafe Peavey; redshirt freshmen Ty Storey and Ricky Town; and true freshman Cole Kelley are battling for the backup job. You can read more about that here.
- Arkansas running backs coach Reggie Mitchell said that after three practices, senior Kody Walker and sophomore Rawleigh Williams III are probably leading the battle to be the Hogs’ leading rusher, but that’s to be expected considering their experience in the system. True freshmen Devwah Whaley and T.J. Hammonds are both impressing coaches with their natural ability and hard work, and they’ll have every opportunity to be in that mix.
- Bielema said that he expects to get summer academic reports on his players by early Wednesday at the latest, and that once he reviews that and knows if any more players plan to transfer, he will decide on awarding walk-ons with scholarships. Bielema mentioned one unnamed player who wasn’t on the initial 105-man fall camp roster who might leave after summer school grades are finalized.
- Bielema expects a big jump from his team once the pads go on this week, adding that, “if you’re a football player that believes that day is going to be harder, because we’re going to put on pads, then you don’t belong here. If you view the extra gear is going to slow you down, or not make you a better football player then you’re in the wrong program. We play better with pads on, we practice with pads on better.”
- Figuring out the starting offensive line remains a work in progress, but four of the five positions seem pretty well set in stone: Senior Dan Skipper at right tackle, Junior Frank Ragnow at center, sophomore Hjalte Froholdt at left guard and redshirt freshman Colton Jackson at left tackle. There could potentially be some movement in that, though, if coaches decide that Texas transfer Jake Raulerson should play center, which would allow Ragnow to move back to right guard.
“We’re going to try to find the best five,” Bielema said.
- True freshman Hayden Johnson is the team’s main fullback right now, although Bielema said that he’s asked senior linebacker Josh Williams to consider a switch to the position. Williams is working at linebacker for now.
“One of the things we’ve done in the past is we’ve had offensive linemen or defensive linemen that maybe weren’t in the playing rotation at that position, as well,” Bielema said. “Fullback isn’t rocket science. It’s line up in a spot and going after someone that’s usually in a stationary position.”
- Bielema said that anywhere between five and 15 true freshmen could end up playing this year, and that the first couple weeks of fall camp are good for determining who among them is ready physically and mentally to play at this level. He cited junior linebacker Dwayne Eugene as an example of a guy who was forced into playing his true freshman year, but could have really benefitted from a redshirt season.
- Bielema said his staff has “great choices” in the kickoff return game and that he isn’t sure yet who will be the guy back there. Names mentioned include Dominique Reed, Jared Cornelius, Jared Collins, Duwop Mitchell, DJ Dean, Drew Morgan and T.J. Hammonds.
Quote of the day
- Offensive line coach Kurt Anderson, when asked how long you can shuffle your first-team O-line before the season actually starts: “Uh, probably all the way up until the clock says 15 or 14:59. Those are the rules, right? And maybe we kick off first, so maybe I’ve got until about 13:30 or something like that.”