HOGS unleash Warren at receiver
By OTIS KIRK
FAYETTEVILLE -- Senior wide receiver De'Vion Warren has been known as a kick returner for the University of Arkansas, but he’s updating his bio weekly this fall.
In Saturday night's 21-14 win over Mississippi State, Warren caught four passes for 100 yards and a touchdown. He also had a 28-yard reception in the season opener against Georgia. All this after catching eight balls for 38 yards and one TD during the previous three years combined.
"It (victory over MSU) felt great, not just for me, but for the team in general because that was just a monumental win for us," Warren said. "A monumental win for Coach [Sam Pittman]. It's been a rough couple of years. I know for the seniors it was just amazing to go win that game. It was great vibes and great energy. I just love the way we played the whole game."
Warren (in UA media relations photo) and the Razorbacks take on Auburn at 3 p.m. Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium. The SEC Network will televise the game.
Coming into the season, Arkansas returned Treylon Burks, Trey Knox and Mike Woods. Those three combined for 90 receptions last fall for 1,283 yards and seven TDs. All three are producing again this season, but Warren has made a strong impression on Pittman.
"On both our touchdown passes, they (MSU defenders) lost guys," Pittman said. "They had mental errors in the secondary it looked to me like. But De'Vion has speed, quickness, can separate on breaks and he's fast. He's really done a good job. Coming in here I didn't know where he would be on the depth chart, even coming in to fall camp. In my eyes, he's a starter because when he's out there, I'm happy he's out there. A lot of times you get someone out there and you go 'Oh man where's the starter,’ and that's not the case with him out there. Very, very confident in him."
Warren responded to Pittman saying he considers him a starter.
"I didn't even know that," Warren said. "It's just about being able to go out there and know what you are doing and how to do it without losing a beat. That's how you practice, how you study film. You've got to have the mindset that even if you aren't on the field first, you always will always get a chance to get in. You never know what will happen. You just have to be ready when your moment comes."
Warren got his chance Saturday when Burks left the game early with an injury.
"Just waiting your turn," Warren said. "Just continue to work hard. I've always been told that when you get a chance you make the most of the opportunity. This year that's what I have done. Just made the best of what I can do to help the team and just so happened to be more at receiver than special teams."
In past seasons when the Hogs lost a star players such as Burks on Saturday night, they might have folded. Warren and this group didn't.
"It’s just the way Coach Pitt has come in and changed our mindset," Warren said. "It’s next guy up. Yes, those guys are great. They’re all-stars. They’re our best people on the field. If something happens, you always have to be ready, no matter who you are, no matter what your role. Coach Pittman always says that everybody’s important and last Saturday everybody became important."
As Pittman promised Monday, considering the forecast for possibly heavy rain Saturday at Auburn, the Hogs are practicing with wet balls.
"We are getting extra work with wet balls for everybody including centers, quarterbacks, running backs and receivers,” Warren said. “We've got to focus a little bit harder when you have the wet balls."
Heavy wind and rain are possible as Hurricane Delta, already a category 4 storm, likely tracks through the heart of Alabama.
"Hurricane conditions?," Warren said. "I haven’t played in hurricane conditions, but I’ve played in wet and rainy and muddy conditions, and let me tell you it is not very fun. You’re slipping and sliding everywhere and everybody’s just all over the place, getting stuck in the mud. You might lose a couple of shoes, socks. It’s a whole bunch of just mess and then you’ve got to take that off. Oooh, that’s just, it ain’t too pretty. But it’s fun though! It’s actually pretty fun."
Despite being 1-1 when most forecasted 0-2 at this point, particularly after Mississippi State topped LSU, the Razorback offense hasn't clicked. The offense recorded 17 first downs, 14 points and 275 yards at Mississippi State. In the opener against Georgia, they mustered 15 first downs, 10 points and 280 yards.
"We just have to limit our mistakes," Warren said. "We kill ourselves sometimes. We just have to work on our fundamentals, work on our mindset and remember that we don’t do anything out of our job. Make sure we do our job every play, every single down. If we just do our job, we’ll be perfectly fine."