QB Allen, Hog O less sloppy in 2nd practice in pads; Morgan paces WRs; more notes
FAYETTEVILLE - On alternate days Arkansas' offensive coaches and defensive coaches address media after practice.
Jr QB BRANDON ALLEN
Good thing for the offensive players that offensive coordinator Jim Chaney's turn came in Thursday's practice in shoulder pads and not Wednesday's first day in shoulder pads.
"It was a little better today than the first day with pads on," Chaney said Thursday. "I wasn't real pleased with how we executed on Wednesday but a lot better today. They responded pretty well to some harsh criticism from the coaching staff last night, and it was good to see a bunch of kids respond."
The Razorbacks practice in pads Friday (likely to be relatively light) and scrimmage (closed to public) Saturday morning.
What was wrong Wednesday? "Execution, we were just sloppy everywhere," Chaney said. "It was like we put pads on and started playing and we forgot all the details of our assignments."
Even the quarterback, given the nonstop praise for junior starter Brandon Allen throughout the summer and this week's practices?
"Yes, there wasn't one out there that I was really proud with," Chaney said. "So they came out and played a lot better today. You just feel better when you walk off the field when the kids respond to what you ask them to do and that's where we sit at today."
Allen said the offense took Wednesday's criticism to heart.
"Yesterday we were kind of feeling down for ourselves a little bit," Allen said Thursday, "definitely feeling the heat at practice. Definitely not prepared to get the work done we needed to get done. Today was a lot different. I think we were all prepared to practice, ready for the heat and ready to get it on."
GREENWOOD'S MORGAN LEADS RECEIVERS
As a spare receiver lettering last season as a true freshman, Greenwood's Drew Morgan never caught a pass. Now he's catching a first-team slot.
"Out of all my guys right now, Drew is probably playing the best," receivers coach Michael Smith said. "I'm super ecstatic about the way Drew is catching the ball, the way he's competing. He's running with the ones and doing an excellent job."
To be fair to Morgan, that zero for 2013 should have an accompanying asterisk. Opportunities did not abound.
"I had two or three that sailed over the top or went low," Morgan said. "There was one I caught at Alabama that was low and they reviewed it and said it wasn't caught."
Morgan laughed. "I still debate that," Morgan said.
Does he wish he had redshirted last year? "We were in the type of situation last year that we didn't have a lot of depth at receiver," Morgan said. "I'm one of those guys that if I need to play a role, I'm that role player that can get the job done."
And while UA coaches might wish they had Morgan back in 2017 as a fifth-year senior, playing those 10 games in 2013 makes him better for 2014. "It was a very productive transition from last year to this year having that experience definitely improves my game," Morgan said. "Learning the speed of the game and the mental and physical toughness. If I can master those that will definitely help me out from last year to this year."
At least a season without a catch won't have been in vain.
"I want to catch 20 or 30 balls as a sophomore because last year motivated me," Morgan said. "I didn't catch any my freshman year so I am going to go have a breakout season and build my resume right now. That's my one goal I am going to tell you guys."
HENRY TOP TIGHT END
Tight ends Hunter Henry, second-team All-SEC as a freshman last year, and AJ Derby, the senior moved in the spring from quarterback, and third-year sophomore Jeremy Sprinkle all contributed to Thursday's better day.
"Today Hunter made a great one-handed catch down the sideline," Allen said. "AJ has made a few diving catches in camp so far. You're seeing real athletic plays out of of some big guys."
Sprinkle has wide receiver skills at tight end but looked too much like a wideout until bulking his 6-6 frame up to 241 pounds this summer and stroking a linebacker Thursday.
"Yeah, I did," Sprinkle said. "It was just a draw play. I lined up at fullback and I just made the right fit and everything and it just happened. I've been working all summer to gain mass and strength. Just eating and eating and hydrating.""