Hogs: Spring game closed to public; Rhoads expects more from secondary

Hogs: Spring game closed to public; Rhoads expects more from secondary

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FAYETTEVILLE - While he coordinates the entire Arkansas defense, Paul Rhoads still coaches the secondary.

And for the secondary members to leave a good impression on their coordinator/coach as spring camp closes, they will need to perform better in Saturday’s Red-White game than in Thursday’s practice.

Due to a 100 percent chance of severe thunderstorms Saturday, the Red-White spring game will be closed to the public inside the Walker Indoor Training Center. It will be televised at noon on the SEC Network.

Thursday’s closed practice marked the 14th of the 15 spring workouts allowed by the NCAA.

“We've advanced quite a ways,” Rhoads said from Practice 1 through Practice 13. “I wasn’t pleased with that advancement today. Would have like to have seen the last practice before we took the field for the spring game leaving the practice field with a smile on our faces. Too many mental mistakes. Took our foot off the gas a little bit.

"But we got some exposure to a couple of more calls we got to put on film and we'll be able to teach off throughout the summer and into training camp. As much for the coaching staff as anything.”

The front seven was relatively OK Thursday, Rhoads said.

“I expressed probably dissatisfaction with today, that may be as much on the back end as it was everybody else,” Rhoads said. “The front seven overall, they might have had a pretty decent practice, but I wasn't very thrilled with the back end.”

The secondary starts the most veterans on the defense.

“Well if you don't come ready to work mentally, then your physical execution gets challenged,” Rhoads said. “I don't think they brought the right mindset to practice today.”

Rhoads and outside linebackers coach Chad Walker were asked Thursday about third-year sophomore Jamario Bell of Junction City, moved just last week from tight end to the Hog outside linebacker.

“He's got a lot to learn,” Rhoads said. “He missed (while at tight end) a significant amount of (3-4 scheme) install and the basics that went along with that. We played basically three calls for four to five days, the better part of six days and he missed that repetition. Right now he's having to play every call and making a lot of mental mistakes because of it. That's not necessarily his fault as he learns. The fundamental piece that I'll continue to emphasize.

"He's a tall (6-5) player, and when you're thinking, OK, you forget to bend. Bending is the first thing we have to make sure he does on every snap. Glad to have him because I think he has a chance to be a good player in this scheme.”

What are Walker’s impressions of Bell?

“He has come in with a great attitude,” Walker said. “He has been really coachable. He's been really going for it. He really wants to be good.”

Bell has some tools to help on the perimeter with that 6-5 frame and the leaping ability that had him recruited on the Division 1 level in basketball.

“I do see he's a guy that's light on his feet out there,” Walker said. “He has got some ability and I know he's going for it. What I mean by that is he's working hard and really wants to be good. I can really appreciate his effort.”

Speaking of tools, second-year offensive line coach Kurt Anderson said returning all his linemen from last year except graduated starting tackle Dan Skipper and last year redshirting Paul Ramirez, the junior college transfer backing up sophomore left tackle Colton Jackson of Conway, gives him a toolbox his line didn’t have one year ago.

“I was telling them after practice where they come from this time last year,” Anderson said Thursday.   “Last year I felt we left spring with two tools in our toolbox. Right now we’ve got one of those big, huge chests that you roll into your garage, and it’s got everything imaginable. They’ve got it in that toolbox and they know everything they are supposed to do and everything that needs to be done.”

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