HOGS: Seniors say UA better than year ago
FAYETTEVILLE - After relinquishing the belt Tuesday that Arkansas coach Chad Morris awards to the unit practicing the best, the defense reclaimed the belt following Thursday’s practice.
“We got it back today,” senior defensive tackle and Hope High School alum McTelvin “Sosa” Agim said after Thursday’s practice. “So they got to babysit it for a day.”
The belt’s sway came down to the last play with quarterback Ben Hicks forced out of the pocket and whistled stopped.
“I guess it was like … Ben tried to scramble,” Arkansas sophomore safety Joe Foucha said. “We’re back there as a secondary, so if a quarterback is scrambling trying to throw the ball, that’s a good thing. That means we’re holding up back there. That’s how that play went.”
Hicks was asked who would win the belt during Saturday’s 3 p.m. Red-White game at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
“It would definitely be the offense because we’re so tired of hearing about the dang belt,” Hicks said.
Foucha said ultimately they are in this together, regardless who has the belt.
“I said to myself the day they won it, ‘That’s a good thing,’” Foucha said. “That means iron sharpens iron. They’re getting the job done. We won the belt today because I feel like as a whole we’re improving a lot. We still have a whole lot of room to learn from this spring.”
As a graduate transfer from SMU where he was a redshirt freshman for a starting quarterback for Morris in 2016 and 2017 before Morris came to Arkansas. Hicks will play his one and only Red-White game Saturday.
And it will be his first outing before Razorback fans other than former Razorbacks, recruits and various invitees to the otherwise closed practices.
“Yeah, I’m excited. It’s going to be fun, a good atmosphere,” Hicks said. “We’re just excited to get back in there and have the fans there. We’ve had a great spring. We just want to showcase what we’ve been working on.”
The setting will be different with fans, but the format will be like the previous Saturday scrimmages, Hicks presumes.
“I just know what we've done in the past with Coach Morris, and it's typically offense, defense,” Hicks said. “It's gonna be a scrimmage like we've been doing on Saturdays. We're not gonna split it up into two teams. I don't think we have enough depth for that. I think guys are gonna be rotating. We'll see what happens.”
Agim, likely to be withheld from Saturday’s game as an experienced mainstay the staff won’t risk for a spring game injury, recalled the excitement of his first spring game.
“I was talking to one of the freshmen (December high school graduate defensive back Devin Bush) today,” Agim said. “I remember my first time playing in the spring game fresh out of high school. It’s just a surreal feeling. You get to put on those pads, have that Razorback on the side of your helmet and actually run out of the tunnel. It’s a great feeling. I’m really happy for them, and I’m ready for them to be able to experience running out of that A as well.”
BETTER BE BETTER
Coming off a 2-10 overall/0-8 SEC mark in 2018 under a brand new staff, these senior Razorbacks deem this team improved from the previous April.
“I feel like we're all more comfortable with the offense because this is our second year,” Arkansas senior receiver Deon Stewart said. “We’ve got some young guys, but a lot of them are coming along well and are in the playbook pretty good. I definitely feel like the offense is better than it was at the end of 2018, but we've still got a lot of stuff to put in, and I'm sure we'll take on that in the summer and fall camp.”
Agim said spring drills started with a 2-10 hangover but aren’t ending that way.
“It’s definitely come a great deal from where it started,” Agim said. “I feel like we were in that 2-10 area still, and we’ve been trying to leave that behind us. I feel like we’re doing a great job of that right now.”