photo source: thesportsjury.com

August 20, 2011 Arkansas Practice Notes
by Jon Ham

- TE Colton Nash did not participate in practice; I don't know what held him out. Frosh DE Lonnie Gosha started participating again a couple practices ago and was out there again today.

The first and second stringers practiced for about an hour and a half, then did some conditioning drills while the newcomers got extra work in with the coaches.

- De'Anthony Curtis started the day at CB, and then got a lot of time at RB. I haven't seen him at RB in a long time, but he looks very natural at the position and he didn't look rusty or timid at all. Seeing him today gave me a little more confidence in the depth at RB.

Ronnie Wingo continued to look great out there as the feature RB. He has been running with a lot more authority, and he's my choice for breakout player on the team this season. He can really do everything Petrino wants out of a RB - pass block, catch, and run between the tackles or off the edge.

Dennis Johnson looked good today when he got reps, but he didn't get a whole lot of reps today and seemed winded. After he completed one drill, RB Coach Horton yelled at him to hurry back several times, but Johnson just took his time walking back. I'm not sure if Dennis was having problems with his hamstring, if he was just out of breath, or if something else was slowing him down. Johnson also did not return any kicks today (Wade, Fisher, Humphrey, Minor, Wingo, and Whitehurst returned kicks).

Kody Walker is starting to look more comfortable and confident in his assignments and as a RB in general. Walker got some work at RB on the goaline; Kiero Small played some RB on the goal line as well with TE Garrett Uekman lined up at FB.

- Tyler Wilson got most of the reps at 1st team QB, although Mitchell also got some quality time with the first team. Wilson was more consistent today, but neither brought their "A" game. There was a pretty good sized crowd watching practice, and the only QB to draw an applause was Brian Buehner when he  squeezed the ball into tight coverage and hit Chris Gragg in stride down the middle of field for a long gain.Brandon Allen continued getting most of the leftover reps at QB after Mitchell and Wilson.

Greg Childs was running very crisp routes and with great acceleration with the ball in his hands. He didn't get a lot of work with the first team, but I think he's starting to "come on" and will be back with the first team sooner rather than later.

Mitch Smothers and Jason Peacock shared reps at 1st team OT, but Smothers got most of the reps. The second string offensive line usually went: OT Peacock/Smothers, OG Brey Cook, C Charpentier, OG Stringer, OT Beck.

- Safeties Tramain Thomas, Eric Bennett, and Ryan Farr made interceptions today. Jerico Nelson worked at LB in the 4-3 set, and split time at safety with Eric Bennett when the defense was in the 3-4/5-2 "cinco" set.

DE Jake Bequette continues to abuse the young guys during drills. During a blocking drill, he ran over TE Brad Taylor. They re-did the drill, and the next time Taylor was able to stay on his feet but Bequette still beat him.
photo source: ncaagridirongab.com

August 17, 2011 Arkansas Practice Notes
by Jon Ham

Morning Practice

- Ronnie Wingo participated for the entire practice; he left practice early yesterday for not feeling well. Backup RB Ron Watkins was not at practice again, still no word on him.

Greg Childs is coming along, looking a little more comfortable each day. He mostly worked on the 2nd team offense, behind Adams, Wright, Hamilton, Herndon, and Wade.

- For the entire practice, Frosh OT Mitch Smothers ran with the first team offense  and Jason Peacock worked with the 2nd team offense. Both of these tackles have become much more consistent o-lineman over the past two weeks, especially in pass protection. I'm still a little worried about Smothers being able to match up physically with SEC defensive ends, but in my opinion he is slightly ahead of Peacock mentally and technique wise.

- The 1st team offense got off to a shaky start during the first mini-scrimmage; the first three plays were incomplete passes. They settled in and executed the offense at times and were able to move the chains and score, but they are not yet as sharp as Petrino wants. Twice when Wilson was under center, the ball hit the ground on the snap.

Brandon Mitchell had an excellent day overall. I would guess that he had a higher completion % than Wilson during the scrimmaging. He still needs to work on taking some velocity off his shorter passes; he has a very strong arm and too often I see him throw a bullet on a short route and the pass gets dropped.

The first and second string offenses spent time working on play action and screen passes to both the WR's and RB's. I think our offense is going to feature a lot of misdirection plays out of several formations to confuse defenses and create matchup problems. Our offense can line up in 5 wide and still run QB draws or jet sweeps, and we can line up in power run sets and still be a real threat to pass.

- Ronnie Wingo was running with a vengeance today. He was hitting the holes at full speed with his pads lowered every time.

I liked how Frosh RB Kody Walker looked catching the ball out of the backfield on swing/outlet passes. These routes allow him to gain momentum before he's confronted by smaller defensive backs and linebackers who try to tackle him. Walker has decent hands and route running ability.

- Safety Tramain Thomas, LB Jerico Nelson, and CB Darius Winston each picked off a pass for an interception during either drills or the scrimmaging.

- Dennis Johnson and Marquel Wade worked as the primary kick returners. Wade is capable of making big plays on returns, and I would not be disappointed to see him start the season at kick returner. He does not fool around when he catches the ball; he gets to running north-south at top speed quickly, and has shown the ability to make cuts and moves to elude tacklers.


Afternoon Practice

- The first and second stringers practiced for a little over an hour, and the newcomers were held for some extra practice time.
RB Ron Watkins was back at practice after missing a few in a row. WR Greg Childs did not practice; coaches have been holding him out for the second practice during all the two-a-days this camp.

- Team started practice working on punts and punt blocks. Cobi Hamilton and Elton Ford did a nice job rushing the punter; Ford pretty much grabbed the ball off the punter's foot on one play.

Breeding's punting was on today. He was putting the ball inside the 10 and showed nice control of his direction and touch. Brandon Allen got some work at punter; he's great at it for being a QB. After one of Allen's super-arching punts that was aimed toward the sideline, he just kind of stood there and watched it, and Petrino yelled at him to get down the field and cover the punt.

Hocker hit most of his field goals. He was 1/2 from 49 yards, and I saw only one other miss inside 49 yards. The backup kicker, John Henson, is pretty accurate, but his kicks don't get up and over the line near as well as Hocker's kicks. At least two of his kicks were blocked by Colton Nash, and they were both no longer than 40 yards.

- RB's, FB's, and TE's worked on blocking against DE's and LB's. Dennis Johnson did a better job today than he did in this drill Monday, but Wingo is still the better blocker of the two. Wingo is taller and heavier than Johnson, but just as quick and has great technique that allows him to lock down the man he's blocking. Kelvin Fisher did better today also; he  worked on "bowing up" and putting as much power into his block as possible in order to hold his ground. Nash is the most physical blocker out of the TE's, but Gragg and Tate do a sufficient job as well.

- There were many difficult catches made by several of the offensive skill players. Backup TE Brad Taylor made the catch of the afternoon with a one handed grab on a deep pass down the sideline. 

One receiver allowed a pass to bounce off his pads, and it was intercepted by safety Eric Bennett (I'm pretty sure this happened to Jarius Wright, but not certain b/c it happened on the near sideline where my view was somewhat obstructed). Joe Adams had a few drops on balls that should have been sure catches; he has had some of the best hands all camp though so one shouldn't read too much into this. Julian Horton, Maudrecus Humphrey, and Keante Minor showed good hands by catching some hard thrown balls that they had to reach out for and grab.

- Brandon Mitchell and Tyler Wilson split reps with the 1st team offense during the scrimmage portion. Both executed the offense well. Mitchell carried his performance from this morning's practice over to the afternoon; he looked comfortable standing in the pocket, making reads, and delivering accurate passes.

Mitch Smothers received all of the first team reps at OT over Jason Peacock once again. Smothers was beat badly by a pass rusher on one play, received some words of wisdom from offensive line Coach Klenakis, and was solid for the rest of the day.

Brandon Allen got all the 2nd team reps at QB; he did an excellent job with the second team against the 1st team defense. "Allen to Whitehurst" is a phrase we are going to hear a lot in the coming years.

- During the "newcomers" portion of practice, Jacoby Walker threw two straight touchdowns on deep fly routes to Frehsmen Kane Whitehurst and Price Holmes. CB Davyon McKinney was one on one with each and got beat both times, but he came back and swatted another similar pass when he was in single coverage against Marquel Wade.

Quinta Funderburk made some nice catches and runs after the catch.

CB Tevin Mitchell stood out during this portion of practice. Tevin has the ability close in on receivers and break up the pass, even when receivers seem to have position on him. He shows great awareness and instincts for any college corner, much less a Freshman. There's a good chance he redshirts, but he may end up being too good to keep off the field.
photo source: commercialappeal.com

August 16, 2011 Arkansas Practice Notes
by Jon Ham

- I was a half hour late to practice, but it was a long one so I still saw a good bit of action. RB Ronald Watkins did not participate with the rest of the team today but was on the sideline. RB Ronnie Wingo left practice early; I have heard from others who were there and close to the field that he was feeling ill. WR Greg Childs did participate.

-  OT Mitch Smothers took all the first team reps at OT. He and Peacock had been splitting reps the last few practices. Smothers did a fine job today; I saw him get beat badly only once, and that was against Tenarius Wright when Wright rushed hard to the inside and got to the QB.

- Wilson threw several good passes, but he and the first team offense did not operate as well as they have been. There were too many dropped passes, and Wilson tried to force it on a couple throws that ended up being tipped and intercepted (safety Eric Bennett and LB Matt Marshall got the int's).

First team offense practiced against the first team defense. There were two separate mini-scrimmages during practice, and on the first play of each scrimmage, Wilson used his snap count to get the defensive line to jump offsides. The coaches were not happy with the d-line when they did it the first time, and especially not happy when they did the exact same thing the second time around. There was  a lot of intensity and yelling coming from the coaches today, a little more so than usual.

Greg Childs looked a little better making his stops and cuts on his routes. On one play, he was able to get open on a deep post route and score.

RB Kelvin Fisher showcased his receiving skills coming out of the backfield on a wheel route; the QB found him and completed a pass to him for a TD. When the play was developing, I didn't even realize he had ran a route out of the backfield until he was 20 yards down the field and wide open.

The offense worked on the hurry up no huddle. I liked how the offense was flowing when they were practicing this.

2nd string QB Brandon Mitchell has shown the ability to be an effective passer while running out of the pocket. Even when he's running to his left, he is able to put a lot of velocity on the ball and throw with decent accuracy.

Brandon Allen got most of the 3rd team reps at QB.

- They finished up the day by working on kick off returns and coverage. Dennis Johnson, Marquel Wade, Kelvin Fisher, Maudrecus Humphrey, and Keante Minor took turns returning kicks.
photo taken by Mark Wagner of Arkansassports360.com

August 15, 2011 Arkansas Practice Notes
by Jon Ham

Afternoon Practice

- Greg Childs did not participate, but he did participate in the morning practice. Grant Cook took all the first team OG reps and looks to be near 100% healthy. Backup RB Ronald Watkins did not participate in practice; I still haven't heard what is holding him out of practice.

- Team worked on special teams at the beginning. Kickoff return teamed worked on recovering squib kicks and other types of short kicks. Dennis Johnson and Marquel Wade were lined up as the deep return men.

Zach Hocker was a little "off" today, having to take three attempts to make what looked like a 40 yarder. I don't think it's anything to be concerned about; he has looked good all camp and none of the misses were terrible.

- RB's, FB's, and TE's worked on pass blocking against DE's and LB's. Ronnie Wingo and Kiero Small were the best blocking 'backs. All the TE's showed they are capable of being good pass blockers, but they were beat from time to time.

Frosh RB Kelvin Fisher was able to use his quickness to get his body in front of the rushers, but he had trouble holding his block. Dennis Johnson and Kody Walker had a little trouble getting in front of the rusher, but they both have the physical ability to be great blockers; they just need to work on their technique.

During these drills, LB Matt Marshall brought a lot of energy and beat his blocker more times than not; sometimes he would just toss his blocker to the side or to the ground. Jake Bequette did great in this drill as you would expect him to.

FB's and RB's also worked on their blocking by exploding into the blocking sled. FB's Morgan Linton and Brad Shearin got the most powerful push on the sled, while Kiero Small had a good push but not quite as explosive as those two.

- The defensive backs and some LB's worked on covering WR's one on one against the deep lob pass down the sideline. All of the DB's did a great job staying with the receiver, looking for the ball, and breaking up the pass. LB Ross Rasner made a beautiful one handed snag for an interception during this drill.

- Tyler Wilson looked good again today for the most part, although after one play Petrino had to get on to him for waiting too long to get a pass off to Cobi Hamilton who would have been open down the sideline if Wilson had passed the ball sooner. Wilson followed up that play by throwing  a bullet on the money to a WR on about a 20 yard out route.

- OT's Jason Peacock and Mitch Smothers continued splitting reps at 1st team OT. They both had a very solid day in pass blocking compared to what I had been seeing. I didn't see either get beat badly against the rush, although the 1st team offense was mainly working against the second team defense today, and the 1st team defense mainly worked against the 2nd team offense.

The 2nd team offense did better against the first team defense than I expected them to, but it was not full-contact so one shouldn't read too much into that.

- The 1st and 2nd stringers finished about an hour into practice, and the newcomers got some extra work in. During this extra practice time, nice catches were made by WR's Kane Whitehurst and Price Holmes, TE Garrett Uekman, and TE Brad Taylor. WR Brandon Wolford has had a good camp. He's not as big as most of our other WR's, but he's fast, runs great routes, and has sure hands.

- The team was working at a hectic pace today, going from one drill to the next at full speed for about an hour with no breaks. At the end of the main practice, the 1st and 2nd stringers did wind sprints from sideline to sideline and other conditioning drills.
photo taken by William Moore - Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

August 13, 2011 Arkansas Practice Notes
by Jon Ham

Morning Practice

- OG Grant Cook, who has been out the last few practices due to a minor injury, was back at practice today and took  limited reps with the first team offense. Freshman Brey Cook and Sophomore David Hurd also got reps at Grant Cook's OG spot on the first team offense.

Frosh Mitch Smothers and JUCO transfer Jason Peacock split time at first team OT. Jake Bequette was able to get by Smothers often when he rushed hard from the outside, but Smothers did alright against our other DE, Ternarius Wright. Both Peacock and Smothers are still settling into the speed and intensity of the game. Smothers seems to have better technique and agility, while Peacock provides a bigger body and maybe a little more power.

Peacock had been getting just about all the reps at first team OT, and Brey Cook had been getting just about all the reps at first team OG in place of Grant Cook, so Petrino must not be entirely happy with how that has been looking. In his interview last night, Petrino said he was mixing some players in on the offensive line in order to try to find a better push in the running game. I'm not sure if Hurd and Smothers bring better push to the O-line than Brey Cook and Peacock, but that is the only difference I can tell in the offensive line rotation.

- Freshman Kelvin Fisher, who has been switched to RB from CB after the Knile Davis injury, looked very fast and shifty in the speed and agility drills. During one drill, offensive skill players and defensive backs and linebackers lined up about 8 yards apart facing each other, and the offensive players would try to run past the defenders while the defenders would try to make the tackle. Fisher made his tackler miss 3 out of the 4 times I saw him run the drill. Fisher would start by running right at the defender and then juke by him at the last second. This drill was being done right on the sideline, so Fisher only had one way to juke, but he was still able to make the defender miss. Fisher juked his tackler more than anyone else. He also worked some at punter returner.

During the tackling drill just mentioned, it was a sight to see defenders try to tackle Frosh TE Andrew Peterson (6'6", 262 lbs) one on one. Peterson is a load and when he leans forward and builds momentum, defenders can only wrap up and hang on while getting run over.

- Eric Bennett started at first team safety.

 Backup CB Greg Gatson has been playing very well these Fall practices; he brings alot of energy to the defense. He is always trying to strip the WR's of the ball, and did strip a WR of the ball today. He tries to make big plays every chance he gets to see the field and goes all out on every play.

- Greg Childs looks okay, but the timing with him and the QB's just isn't quite right, and I think that has to do with him not making his breaks as quickly as the QB's expect him to. On some plays, Childs looks almost 100%, but on others, it's obvious he's not where he wants to be yet.

- Tyler Wilson threw the ball well again today. He made some difficult throws while running out of the pocket and having to throw back across his body. He has shown the ability to make all types of throws with accuracy, and I expect he'll have to showcase his ability to throw on the run when we play Alabama.

Wilson had to tuck the ball and run on one play, and he didn't run full speed after he got past the line of scrimmage because the play was obviously over. Garrick McGee was not happy and made Tyler turn around and keep running some more, so Tyler turned around and ran for another 10 yards and then turned back around to head back to the huddle, and Petrino made him turn around again and run hard all the way down the field about 40 yards into the end zone. Petrino was at his usual pace and temper today, to say the least.


Afternoon Practice

- The first and second stringers only practiced for about an hour this afternoon. They got a lot of work in and did not take any breaks during that hour. After the first hour, the 3rd and 4th stringers got some extra work in.

- Greg Childs and backup RB Ronald Watkins were not at the afternoon practice. Childs did participate in the morning practice, but I can't remember seeing Watkins at the morning practice. I have not heard any reports of either of these two being held out for injury at this time.

OG Grant Cook was back out there and practiced for the whole hour.

- The team started the day working on kick off returns, field goals, and punts. The kickoffs were consistently going right to the goaline, and Dennis Johnson and Ronnie Wingo worked as the return men.

Zach Hocker missed 3 field goals; all three he missed were from 35+ yards. None of the misses were way off, and after each miss he made the next attempt from the same spot. Hocker also worked some at punter and looked good doing that.

Special teams worked on some "wrinkles" in addition to the basic packages, but I don't want to put the details in this report and spoil the "surprise" factor of these wrinkles.

- CB Isaac Madison had a great day covering his man, deflecting at least one pass and intercepting another. Davyon McKinney also had a nice pass breakup where his length advantage allowed him to get his hand in the passing lane.

- RB Kelvin Fisher looked good whenever he had space to run, but compared to the other RB's he's easy to knock down. 

- The receivers made several awesome catches that "wowed' the crowd. Jevontee Herndon made the catch of the day - he was running a quick fade in the red zone, a CB was between him and the QB, and he had to jump high and reach over the CB to make a catch in the air for a TD. It was an amazing play that energized the team and crowd. WR Maudrecus Humphrey had a similar but not quite as difficult catch in the end zone. 

Freshmen Keante Minor and Kane Whitehurst made a few tough receptions, and Joe Adams made some spectacular plays. Both Adams and Minor had one handed grabs on some hard thrown balls.

Cobi Hamilton almost came down with a spectacular catch in the endzone on a quick fade.  I thought the pass looked uncatchable, but Cobi went up for the catch, tipped the ball in the air, and on the way day almost caught the ball with the same hand he tipped it with while using the other hand to keep off the defender. Although it went for an incompletion, it showed how special of a receiver Hamilton is.

On the field, I've notice that Hamilton is one those guys who keeps the team going and keeps the morale high. Whenever other receivers make nice catches, he often runs over to them to be the first to celebrate with them. A few practices ago, I saw two players about to get in a fight, and Cobi broke it up by putting his arm around one of the guys and walking him away. Cobi is a cool customer, and at times when you think he could get angry because of a cornerback talking trash to him or playing  dirty, he just walks away and lets his game speak for itself.

- OT's Mitch Smothers and Jason Peacock shared time at 1st team OT again. Both continue having a hard time keeping Jake Bequette away from the QB, although I'd say Peacock did a slightly better job this afternoon.
Zac Lehr • Arkansas News Bureau

August 11, 2011 Arkansas Practice Notes
by Jon Ham

- First day of full contact tackling. The team scrimmaged for most of practice.

- During one of the first offensive series of the scrimmage, Knile Davis was injured when he got wrapped up by a couple defenders and was bent backwards pretty hard. When I saw it happen it made me say "ow," to myself, and then a few seconds later you could hear that Knile was in fact in some serious pain. He was helped off to the sideline, and then carted off the field.

Starting the scrimmage this way put an unsettling feeling in my stomach and I'm sure everyone else's stomach. I was ready to call the scrimmage off or at least put some "no contact" jerseys on the rest of our running backs, but the team stayed focus and kept going at it.

- Tyler Wilson managed the offense very well. He found Jarius Wright open a couple times for some amazing TD passes. On the first one, Wright got open deep down the field like he's known to do, and Tyler threw a beautiful arching ball that hit Wright in stride. For  the other Wilson to Wright TD pass, the offense was in the red zone and Isaac Madison was lined up in press coverage on Wright. Wright ran the quick fade route to the corner of the endzone and Wilson threw the ball over Madison and right into Wrights hands, much like Mallett's pass to Wright in the end zone for the touchdown in the Sugar Bowl if you remember that one.

Another time when Arkansas was in or near the redzone, the pocket started to collapse and Wilson had to quickly step up in the pocket to avoid pressure. He found Joe Adams streaking through the middle of the field and threw him a jump pass because he was close to the line of scrimmage and had to throw over the line. Wilson's pass hit Adams in stride, and Adams turned on the burners and found his way into the endzone.

Even when the first string wasn't in or when they were practicing field goals, Wilson stayed close to the action and was encouraging his teammates the whole way. You can tell he wants to be one of the centerpieces of the football team.

- Brandon Mitchell had his good and bad moments. After a play when Mitchell ran outside the pocket and the play broke down, Petrino got onto him for being too quick to escape the pocket. After that exchange with Petrino, Mitchell did show more patience inside the pocket and picked his game up.

Mitchell throws a very hard ball, even on the short routes, much like Mallett, and his receivers had a couple drops they should have caught on some short hard throws.

- Brandon Allen was the 3rd QB to take snaps. At times he did look like a Freshman today; he threw an interception in one of his first series. It looked like backup LB Braylon Mitchell was playing zone and read Allen like a book to snag the interception.

Allen did have some nice throws and runs when he escaped the pocket, but he did not show the consistency that I've seen out of him so far. He seems like a perfectionist to me, and he might be thinking a little too much because he was hesitating in the pocket a little too long instead of trusting his receivers and letting the ball fly. I could be wrong and the receivers could have just not been getting open, making it tough on Allen.

- Jacoby Walker was the 5th QB to get snaps, behind Brian Buehner. On his first pass, he threw a deep ball to Hunter Jarvis who was running open - the ball hit Jarvis in stride but went through his hands and off the front of his helmet for an incompletion. Walker had some other nice throws that did go for completions. I don't know if Walker's good day was more in part to his good play, or had more to do with the fact he was going against the 3rd string defense, but nonetheless he looked good.

On deep passes, Walker doesn't throw a bullet like Mallett, but he is able to keep a low trajectory on the ball like a "bullet" pass while at the same time putting a little arc on it for some touch. I love the way Walker's deep balls look b/c of this. I really hope he can continue to make some strides and becomes the great QB that he's capable of being.

- As just noted, Buehner got the reps as 4th string QB. He did well. He's no Tyler Wilson, but I honestly would feel somewhat comfortable with him as a starting QB. He's sharp, consistent, throws a nice ball, and has decent speed to pick up yards running if needed. If you don't believe me, watch the Spring Game.

- Dennis Johnson ran very hard today and did not look rusty at all. He was given quite a few carries considering Knile went down early. He's running just like he did in '09, and I expect him to have a breakout season as one of our feature RB's.

Wingo had a good day overall. He delivered some hits on some defenders himself when they came up to try to make the tackle. He didn't get a whole lot of carries, and lined up out wide a few times. On one run I did see him be somewhat indecisive in choosing his running lane, and he was stopped for no gain at the line of scrimmage, but other than that he looked good.

Kody Walker stood out with his hard running. He started off a little shaky, fumbling the ball when he and a DT ran straight into each other, but as the practice went on and as he settled in, he started to shine. Once he gets his momentum going forward it's tough to bring him down, especially when you add in his ability to also make cuts.

Kiero Small started at fullback with the first team, and also got some reps at tailback with the 3rd string offense. Similar to Walker, once he gets going he is tough to bring down. On one play, Small made a catch out of the backfield and started sprinting upfield, Isaac Madison came up to make the tackle and pretty much just bounced off Small.

- Joe Adams, Jarius Wright, and Cobi Hamilton were the starting three WR's. I can't recall any drops among these three. They all look in top form.

Greg Childs played several downs. He looked okay running after the catch and taking on tacklers.

Humphrey, Herndon, Horton, and Minor all got a lot of playing time and looked good overall. You can't really say enough about how talented and deep our WR corps is.

Julian Horton had a couple drops again today that should have been easy catches, but he redeemed himself later in the scrimmage by making an acrobatic catch in the end zone for a TD.

- TE Chris Gragg gets open pretty much whenever he wants to, and Wilson and the other QB's found him for some completions down the field a few times.

Garret Uekman, another one of our TE's, stood out today. He caught some hard balls thrown his way, one of them for a TD.

- The offensive line held it's own in both the run and pass game, although it's tough to always get an accurate read when it comes to pass blocking because tackling of the QB is not allowed. I noticed on one play LB Ross Rasner came on an outside blitz and would have sacked Wilson, but Wilson completed a short pass to Jarius Wright that went for a big gain. The line was able to make some holes big enough for Johnson to get positive yards just about every run, although there was never a time when they "manhandled" the defense. The running game had to work hard for every yard they got.

OG Grant Cook is still out with Freshman Brey Cook replacing him at first string.

- The defense started off in the 3-4 like they have been doing. I'm not sure if this is going to be one of out featured defensive packages or if we are just using it to prepare our offense for 3-4 defenses like Bama's down the road. I think it may be a little of both.

- Freshman CB Tevin Mitchell made some great plays. On one he had to come up in run support and put a hard hit on RB Ronald Watkins for the tackle. On another play, he was matched up on WR Marquel Wade, and Brandon Mitchell tried to throw a fade to Wade down the sideline but Tevin stayed with Wade step for step the whole way and did not allow Wade to make the play.

Another Freshman DB, Rohan Gaines, looks really nice at safety. He's fast but pretty built for a Freshman, and looks to be a sure tackler. Daunte Carr also looks like a nice safety waiting in the wings for us (6'3", 220 lbs). He delivered a hard hit to break up a pass in the end zone. Freshman CB Kelvin Fisher had a pass breakup as well. The future of our secondary looks bright with all these guys just mentioned plus Davyon McKinney and Darrell Smith.

- Hocker and the backup field goal kicker, John Henson, made all of their PAT's. There weren't any long field goal tries, and the only field goal try I can remember was a short one that was made by Hocker.

- Eric Bennett was back at first team safety in place of Elton Forde.

- Other than the early injury to Davis, I feel good about the progress the team has made and I see things really starting to come together. I'm very happy with what I saw out of Wilson today and the first team offense overall. Our defense is full of studs, and our special teams should be one of the best special teams units in the SEC.
photo source: wareagleextra.com

August 10, 2011 Arkansas Practice Notes
by Jon Ham

- The outdoor practice was cut short today due to thunderstorms. Practice started at 6:30, stopped at 7:10, and then shortly after the players moved to the indoor practice facility.

- At the beginning of practice, it was a little breezy and there was some drizzle. They worked on field goals, and Hocker and his backup (still don't know his name) hit all of their field goal attempts. As I was watching these two nail field goal after field goal, I got to thinking "what if we had one of these guys in 2009?" I bet we would have beat both LSU and Florida that year, two games we lost that were partially due to missed field goals.

- We also practiced punts at the beginning of practice. Dylan Breeding is very consistent in his distance and hang time; he did have one shank that went about 25 yards past the line of scrimmage, but other than that they were all beauties.

Frosh WR Keante Minor was added to the mix at punt returner. He brings a little more size than Adams, Wade, and Hunter Jarvis. Both Wade and Minor dropped one punt each. On Wade's drop, he misjudged the ball and had to run forward and lean down to make the catch, and on Minor's drop, he simply let the ball hit him in the pads and it bounced off. All 4 of our punt returners have the ability to make people miss and out run people, but I think Adams and Wade have the most optimal skill set for the job (their ability to make quick hard cuts and get to top speed quickly).

- Tyler Wilson looked fantastic throwing the ball today. The receivers and QB's are looking sharper every practice. There were only a couple dropped balls today out of the whole receiving corps.

During offense v. defense pass drills, Greg Childs shook Darius Winston and got open down field; Brandon Mitchell threw a beautiful fade to Childs that hit Childs on the hands but Childs dropped it. I'm convinced Childs just has too much on his mind right now, and once he gets to the point to where he can just react and play football, he will be back to full form.

- While watching the defensive backs do footwork drills, I noticed that Davyon McKinney, the 6'3" Freshman who just switched to DB from WR, has exceptional foot speed for his size. During the back-peddle drills, he was able to bend forward and keep a low center of gravity while accelerating backwards. He was able to keep up with the other DB's. He will be a special player if he stays at corner and becomes a student of the position.

Freshman safety Rohan Gaines also impressed me with his foot speed during drills.

- I did not see OG Grant Cook, or DE Lonnie Gosha for the second straight day. Both of them have been out due to injury. It has been reported elsewhere that Grant Cook's injury is minor and that he should be back soon.

- I might have touched on this in an earlier report, but I want to talk about it some more. QB Brandon Allen does not look like a true Freshman QB. I'm not even talking about his size, arm, and quickness. When he stands in the pocket looking down field, he is very calm and he keeps great control of his body - there is no hopping in the pocket while he is waiting for WR's to get open. Allen does not try to force the ball when the throw is not there - he is not afraid to tuck the ball and run or throw the ball away even during drills. Yesterday when I saw him get a defensive lineman offsides with his snap count during drills, he hiked the ball and took a knee just like he would in a real game. It looks like he has been playing QB since he left the womb.
photo source: shupepartyofone.blogspot.com/2009_08_01_archive.html

August 9, 2011 Arkansas Practice Notes
by Jon Ham

- OG Grant Cook, who rolled an ankle in practice yesterday, was not at practice today. Freshman Brey Cook took his spot at first team OG.

Freshman WR Keante Minor and Frehsman DT DeMarcus Hodge were back at practice today after missing practice yesterday.

I did not see DE Lonnie Gosha at practice, although I'm not positive if he was there or not. It has been reported that he was injured during Sunday's practice, but still no details on that.

It was an injury-free day for the hogs today from what I saw.

- Austin Tate had a pretty one-handed grab. Over the past three practices, I can't recall one time he has dropped a pass. This guy is a complete TE, but he just doesn't have the top end speed Chris Gragg has or quite the receiving skills.

During blocking drills, Tate was able to get a solid push against Jake Bequette. Chris Gragg was able to hold his own against Bequette. Gragg didn't get the push Tate got, but he did not lose the battle by any means. If Gragg can just take one more step in developing his blocking game and start getting some "push," he could be able to fill DJ Williams shoes on the field by himself.

I'm just really in love with our trio of tight ends and I would not be surprised if the two TE power sets turn out to be some of our most reliable and effective offensive packages.

- OT Jason Peacock had a decent day. I realized that he has tremendous quickness for his size when I was comparing him to most of the other offensive lineman we have. He and Brey Cook bring a lot of size and power when they are pulling together. The athletic talent and physical specs are there for a starting SEC OT in Peacock, but he just needs to bring his "A" game every down.

The consistency issue is not just an issue for Peacock, it is really something the whole team needs to work on. Brandon Mitchell will throw two bad incompletions, and then follow it up with two great passes. Tyler Wilson will make several great passes in a row, and then try to force one into tight coverage when he should have tucked the ball or thrown it away. The receivers catch most of the balls thrown their way, but every now and then their hands turn to bricks for no apparent reason other than lack of focus.

- Marquel Wade showed some impressive hand strength. He had to snag a bullet  that went above his head on an underneath route and did so with ease. On 
another play, he secured the catch, and as soon as he tried to turn up-field DB Greg Gatson hacked at the ball trying to strip it - Gatson hit the ball but it didn't move out of Wade's hands.

In the early part of practice, Joe Adams and Jarius Wright made some beautiful finger-tip catches. Over the past few practices I can't remember Adams dropping any passes.

I kept a closer eye on Greg Childs today because someone told me yesterday that it looks like he's having to take too many steps on his stops and breaks. While comparing Childs' ability to stop and turn for the pass to the other WR's, his stops did look a little less "clean." However, on the routes where he doesn't have to stop his momentum, he looks close to his old self. Childs did have a couple drops today on passes he would usually catch, so I think he' s still in the process of getting back to where he was mentally as well as physically. Julian Horton also had a couple drops today which surprised me b/c he's been doing great in all the other practices.

WR Jevontee Herndon continues to impress me. He's a very smooth route runner, has nice speed, and his hands are very reliable. There's just so much talent at WR that I don't know how much we will see him during the season. It's just good to know we have guys like him waiting in the wings for next season after Adams, Wright, and Childs graduate.

- Zach Hocker was 7/8 on field goals today. The one miss looked like a 50 yarder from the right hash mark - the ball barely got there but was wide right. On the next 50 yard try from the right hash, Hocker nailed it with plenty of distance.

I do not know who the backup field goal kicker is, but #43 has a strong leg and made all the field goals I saw him attempt (looked like 5-7 attempts).

- FB Kiero Small was working on the kickoff coverage team some, and they were working on their speed and staying onsides during the kick. Small was lined up next to Marquel Wade, who's one of the faster players on the team. When they took off sprinting, Small was able to stay with Wade for the first 15-20 yards, which really impressed me considering Small weighs somewhere around 255 lbs and Wade weighs around 185lbs.

Small made some nice catches out of the backfield and looked good in the power run game again today.

- I tried to take a good look at Freshman Kody Walker. What I noticed is that he keeps his momentum going forward at all times, even when he makes his moves to get around tacklers. It's quite amazing watching his big frame dice through the line with such speed for his size. You see his big body enter the mass at the line, and then see the top of his helmet shift from one lane to the other while he's accelerating upfield.

I saw Walker standing next to some of our defensive backs and he makes them look tiny. If Walker ever breaks through the front seven of opposing defenses, the secondaries standing in his way are going to have a hell of a time trying to bring him down.

- Defensive backs Isaac Madison and De'Anthony Curtis, and LB Terrell Williams had nice pass breakups today where they were able to make quick breaks on some hard-thrown passes.

- Second string OT Mitch Smothers has great technique and lateral quickness. He is very trim compared to most other OT's like Peacock, but he is doing well against the second team defense. I would like to see him more on the 1st string offense, but he probably doesn't know the playbook as well as Peacock (Peacock has been here since Spring), and doesn't have Peacock's size that will be needed against the likes of Bama and other SEC defenses. I predict that in a couple years, after Smothers adds some bulk, he will be a tremendous lineman for us.

- DE Chris Smith worked some with the linebackers during pass drills.

- When the 1st team offense lines up against the first team defense, the defense wins the battle at the line of scrimmage more times than not. However, the offense was able to create some holes in the run game for Wingo, Davis, and Johnson to run through. The offensive line shows flashes of greatness, they just need to put it all together on every play.

Davis, Johnson, and Wingo all look in top shape and ready to go. I'm excited about our run game this year.
photo source: hootens.com

August 8th, 2011 Arkansas Practice Notes
by Jon Ham

- Starting OG Grant Cook might have sustained an injury today. He stayed on the ground after a play was over, and was helped off the field and had a noticeable limp. It only took one person to help him off, so there's hope it could be something minor.

- Peacock got the majority of the reps at the OT spot opposite of Freeman. He had a more consistent day as there are no false starts to report.

- Tramain Thomas had the play of the day. Brandon Mitchell tried to rifle in a pass to Joe Adams on a seam or post route about 20 yards down the field; Thomas broke on the pass, stretched his arm out, and snagged the ball out of the air with one hand for the interception. It was not a bad pass by Mitchell, just an outstanding play by Thomas.

- Safety Eric Bennett also had an interception today off a deflection. Bennett is still running with the second team defense behind Elton Forde.

- TE Colton Nash had an amazing grab today. He was running his route and was able to react to a pass that was tipped in front of him - he stopped running and twisted around to grab the ball out of the air. Nash has impressed me more each practice. Once he really settles into the TE role, he is going to be a solid contributor for us.

- Tyler Wilson had the best day passing. He was consistently hitting all the routes with plenty of zip. When he makes a great play he shows his enthusiasm and I really like to see that in a QB. While I love Mitchell's potential at QB, I think this is Wilson's team.

Watching all the QB's and WR's line up and run fade route after fade route is really something spectacular to see. We have 5 QB's who can throw a good deep ball, and too many WR's to count who can fly down the field and make the over the shoulder catch.

I noticed Jacoby Walker throws more of a flat "laser," whereas Brandon Allen puts a little more air under the ball. Both threw some pretty passes today. At times Allen looks spectacular, but he's not on Wilson or Mitchell's level YET as far as consistent accuracy. I do notice that whenever Allen does have to force a pass into tight coverage, he will not throw a 50/50 ball - he will throw it to where only the receiver can catch it, or throw it over everyone's head.

On one play Brandon Allen was running the offense from the right hash and threw an absolute bullet across the field to Herndon on a comeback route. I mean he literally threw it across the field - Herndon caught the ball almost right on the sideline. The crowd was positioned on that sideline and it was a thing of beauty to see that pass made across the field like that.

- Greg Childs was not running with the 1st team today and did not get as many reps as some of the other WR's. When he did play, he looked fine to me. The coaches are probably being a little cautious with him, and we have such a stockpile of great WR's it would be silly to expect him to participate as if he never had the injury.

- The defense ran the 5-2 a lot today with Jake Bequette, DD Jones, Robert Thomas, Byran Jones, and Tenarius Wright as the down lineman, and Franklin and Highsmith as the LB's. Sometimes Wright would drop back into coverage or even line up as a LB.

I saw Robert Thomas get to the QB a couple times, as well as Chris Smith who was running with the second team defense.

During media day Petrino talked about how the 2nd string d-line has an advantage over the 2nd string o-line, and I saw a little of what he was talking about. DT Zach Stadther had his way with the 2nd string interior o-line on a few plays.

- Adams, Wade, and Hunter Jarvis worked as punt returners. Adams and Wade are noticeably more explosive than Jarvis, but Jarvis
 is quick, runs hard, and is shifty himself.

Breeding's punting looked great.

- Johnson, Wade, Wingo, Humphrey, Fisher, and Whitehurst returned kicks.

- Fullback Morgan Linton reminds me of former Arkansas fullback Mark Pierce. He has a similar frame and running style. I wouldn't be surprised to see him spell Kiero Small here and there this season. He will at least be an important contributor for us on special teams.

- The offense tried to run some option against a live defense today. Wilson tried to run a speed option from under center with Davis as the tailback, Wilson ran down the line and made the toss to Davis when he should have, but Davis dropped the pitch. 

On another play we tried to run the pistol read-option with Mitchell, but the defense would have stopped it behind the line of scrimmage if they had been allowed to tackle.

Although we are working on these option plays, not a whole lot of time is spent on them and right now it's clear our power running game is our bread and butter if we want to keep the ball on the ground. If we can master these option plays though it will just be another thing opposing defenses have to prepare for and it gives opposing defensive coordinators even bigger headaches when trying to prepare for our offense.

- On the first play of the offense v. defense scrimmage, Wilson was under center and the ball ended up on the ground on the center-QB exchange. This did not happen again.

On the first punt return play, Adams dropped an easy catch - the ball hit him in the pads. On the next punt, Adams had to run and make a harder catch and did so. There were no other dropped punts.
photo taken by Michael Woods

August 6th, 2011 Arkansas Practice Notes
by Jon Ham

- Offense worked quite a bit on the pistol option play where we send a WR in motion as the pitch-man. The WR's who worked as the pitch-man were Hamilton, Horton, Adams, Wade, and maybe Herndon. 

Both Wilson and Mitchell were running this option play. I could see us using it more with Mitchell, and more as a change-up with Wilson, but both of them executed it pretty well. 

- Brandon Mitchell impressed me for the second day in a row. Besides two lame duck passes, he was pretty much spot on the whole day. 

Wilson had a good day too and appears to be one of the main leaders on the team. 

- Kiero Small showed me more today. He's a load but can run quick, clean routes out of the backfield and make catches and get upfield. His lead-blocking made some loud sounds as he smacked his pads into the linebackers. I really like how he and Johnson look in the backfield together - both have short squatty bodies that will run you over. Small had some carries today himself and showed nice acceleration for his size. 

The offense worked on some power-run formations today with two TE's and Small as a lead-blocker. With Nash, Tate, and Small leading the way and Johnson or Davis carrying the rock, I don't see how we wouldn't get positive yards every time. 

We also worked some play-action out of this formation and both Tate and Nash had good days receiving. Nash is coming along well. TE is not a question mark anymore in my eyes with them two and Gragg as the main three. 

- We worked on kickoff/kick returns at the end of practice. Johnson, Wade, and Wingo were fielding returns, and I also think Humphrey might have been back there too. Hocker's kicks went deep consistently, but only one or two out of the end zone, although I'm sure Petrino wasn't wanting him to kick it out of the end zone. 

- Alvin Bailey and Austin Tate stood out as great blockers to me today - each pancaking a defender at least one time. 

Peacock is coming along but had two false starts today. He's a big body and good athleticism for his size, but he's not where they need him to be yet. I like what I see at OT as a whole - we'll be able to find a solid player out of Cook, Peacock, and Smothers to fill that OT spot opposite of Freeman. 

- One formation that stood out to me was Brandon Mitchell in the shotgun with Knile and either Johnson or Wingo lined up to his right, with Knile a step or two in front of the other back. It looked like one of Meyer's spread-option formations with Tebow. 

- Cobi Hamilton looks like he has gained some good weight and looks as fast as he has always been. Adams looks a little thicker in the legs but is still flying around the field too. 

Childs looks close to full-speed but had a couple drops on some tough balls where he usually makes the play. 

Jevontee Herndon stood out today. He made several catches and just looks really fast and always where he's supposed to be it seems. He, Horton, and Humphrey have all been impressive and are capable of stepping right in with little drop-off if one of our starting WR's were to go down. 

- Jerry Mitchell had a nice pass-breakup today. He anticipated the throw and was able to swat the ball before the receiver had a chance. 

Overall the secondary looked pretty solid. I have such high expectations for the offense that I expect the offense to go out there and complete 90%+ of the passes even against the defense in drills, but the defense makes them earn it and has been as disruptive as they can be without being able to make tackles yet. 

- There was a minor scuffle when the o-line/TE's and d-line/linerbackers were squaring off in blocking drills. Pretty sure Byran Jones was upset with Bailey for running him over, but I could be wrong on the names as I was kind of far away. 

It was hot as hell out there today and with the pads on things are really starting to crank up.

photo source: tjcarpentershow.com

August 5th, 2011 Arkansas Practice Notes
by Jon Ham

Newcomer's practice notes:

- Freshman TE Andrew Peterson is a big target at TE (he's 6'6"). He is coming off an injury and is wearing a brace on his left knee. I don't know if he'll have the speed or explosiveness to get much playing time this season, but after a year or two in the program he should be a really nice all-around TE. 

- Funderburke looks like the real deal at WR. He is really long but is still very fluid running his routes and after the catch. He could make an impact this season, but we probably won't need him unless Childs can't recover fully. 

The other wide receivers looked impressive too as far as size and quickness (McKinney, Holmes, Minor, Whitehurt). Hunter Jarvis lined up in the slot a lot, and kept getting open and making catches. He reminded me of former Texas WR Jordan Shipley.

- QB's Brandon Allen and Jacoby Walker both had some good throws and also a few head-scratching plays. From what I saw, Allen was a little more consistent placing the ball where it could be caught, but he wasn't doing so much better to where I would say he's definitely ahead of Walker. 

Allen tucked the ball and ran one play and he was able to get up-field pretty quick. He looks like a natural at the position, and his accuracy and quickness are going to be a lethal combination in Petrino's offense in a few years. 

- DT's DeMarcus Hodge and Jeremiah Jackson are some big boys. They maybe aren't toned enough, but they have the bodies that can be sculpted into legit SEC DT's. 

- Kody Walker looks a lot like Broderick Green. He looks more like a DE/LB than a RB. He's pretty agile for his size, but I didn't see any straight line speed that made me say "wow." I definitely think he could make an impact down the road as a big-bodied back who can pound defenses, but I'm not sold on him having the speed to be a feature back yet. 

- Fullback Morgan Linton was pretty stout and had a nice burst on one carry he got. (I think it was him, #35 I believe)


Vet's Practice Notes: 

- Greg Childs looks fine to me. He was running full speed on his routes, making hard cuts, and finishing hard every play. He might not quite be at 100%, but he's getting there. He had to make a short dive for a catch and made the play just fine without hesitation. 

- Fullback Kiero Small looks like a miniature offensive lineman. He's carries a good bit of weight for his height. He's able to get out in front of the runningback and burst through the hole, but I want to see how big of a punch he can deliver once the pads go on. 

- Chris Gragg is a beastly looking man at TE. He is going to give defensive coordinators fits this year as a receiving threat at TE. Most teams would be happy to have a guy like him as their go to WR. 

I liked how Tate looked at TE. He's a tall guy, good size, and showed he can run crisp routes and catch the ball. 

Nash has some catching up to do at TE but that's to be expected since he just switched back to it. We should be okay at TE with Gragg and Tate. Neither of them can do everything DJ Williams did, but they will give us what we need, and in the case of Gragg in the passing game, even more than we need. 

- From what I saw, it looked like Brandon Mitchell had a higher completion % than Wilson today. If Mitchell could just put his whole game together when it matters (like in the Spring Scrimmage) he would be a hell of a QB. He has good height to see over the line, good speed, a big body, and a strong arm. After today I think there is some truth to when Petrino says there is an open QB battle. 

Wilson's arm did impress me. People will expect a drop-off in arm-strength at QB with the departure of Mallett, but Wilson has plenty of arm. 

- Mitch Smothers looked like he was holding his own at OT from what I saw. 

On one play, Bequette was lined up on OT Jason Peacock, and he pretty much tossed Peacock on his ass with one arm and sped right by him. Peacock was pissed and it didn't happen again. I think Bequette could probably do whatever he wanted to against some of our OT's right now, and every now and then just reminds them of that. 

OT Grant Freeman has great length and looks solid at OT. Overall, the o-line looked alright, but there's some work to be done. 

- Elton Forde made a great interception off a Tyler Wilson pass that was intended for Jarius Wright. It was a short route and the ball was a little off target; Wright had the ball but not securely and Forde ripped it out for the interception in a bang-bang type of play. Forde showed great instincts and killer instinct on that play. 

- Knile Davis looks like he's ready to go right now. Dennis Johnson looked like his old self out there. 

- Petrino was on everyone's ass all day. Twice today I heard him yell at WR coach Cinkovich for something the WR's were doing wrong. 

After one play, Petrino was unhappy with something Bequette did and he yelled something at him about letting the offense run for a TD against him just like Ohio State.