"We actually get to tackle some guys and put 'em on the ground," defensive coordinator Robb Smith said following Friday's practice, the 5th of the 2014 season. "That will be a big evaluation key for us, to find out who can do it at a high speed level. So we're looking forward to that."
Two Razorbacks in particular staged a preview of the scrimmage during the Friday workout. Sophomore Brooks Ellis, who has been working as the first team middle linebacker, met up with sophomore running back Korliss Marshall who is expected to play a key role in Arkansas' ground game this season. "He took a toss sweep and I just came up and hit him a little bit, you know," Ellis said with a chuckle. "Loved that."
"Is he okay," a reporter asked of Marshall.
"Yeah, he's good, he's fine," Ellis answered. "He said something to me in the cold tub just now."
Defensive backs coach Clay Jennings was brought in from TCU to correct some of the secondary issues that plagued Arkansas throughout the 2013 season. Saturday will offer a good test of three key progress areas Jennings has been working on. "We're going to see if they can tackle," Jennings noted. "Big thing is, can they communicate? Can they get lined up. If we can get those three things accomplished then I think it's been a solid first week."
Redshirt safety De' Andre Coley has been battling to crack the starting lineup since last spring. He had a terrific spring game but needs to play with more consistency according to Smith. Coley said Friday that he won't be doing any sleeping going into the scrimmage because he expects to make a big leap forward.
"I know how that feels," sophomore defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr. said with a smile. "My first time I had, not anxiety but excitement to play full contact. He has been doing really well. I've seen some flashes of greatness from Coley. He has stepped up his game a lot."
Defensive line coach Rory Segrest is looking forward to seeing the progress of sophomore defensive tackle Darius Philon. Philon turned heads as a pass rusher last season, his first on the field for the Hogs. "He's come on in the run game," Segrest said of Philon. "Being able to take on and get off blocks like we need him to, so he's coming along well."
Arkansas' offense suffered a setback in Wednesday's practice, the team's first in pads. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said his players bounced back a day later but the scrimmage should offer a better picture of where they stand after the first week of camp.