Mike Irwin: Fall Camp, Day One:
There’s been a lot of talk about what Dan Enos is going to do with K. J. Jefferson this fall. Most of it involves K. J. as a passer. If this team was returning receivers Matt Landers and Jadon Hazelwood I might have no questions at all about Jefferson’s ability to improve Arkansas passing game. But they’re gone and the summer hype at that position revolves around a redshirt freshman and a couple of Division II portal transfers by the names of Isaiah Sategna, Andrew Armstrong and Issac Te’Slaa.
However, the first receiver who caught my eye early Friday morning was none of those guys. It was four-star true freshman Davion Dozier who got himself wide open down the near sideline (right on front of me) and caught a well delivered pass from Jefferson for a touchdown bomb.
You can always tell when a player does something really impressive in practice by how a teammate/teammates on the other side of the ball is/are suddenly the subject of intense coaching. Let’s just say that in this brief five minute offense vs defense drill that we saw the linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties had their hands full trying to combat Jefferson and his receivers.
Armstrong was another newcomer who really stood out.
Later when Sam Pittman and Jefferson talked about the impressive day one start for those receivers, it was no longer summer hype to me. This wasn’t SEC Media Days. I had just seen what they were talking about.
Yes, it was just a handful of plays on day one of what will be a long season of practices and games. But it was an interesting start.
New strength and conditioning coach Ben Sowders added to this favorable impression by pointing out that Sategna, Armstrong and Te’Slaa are among the fastest players on the team.
As always when teammates are battling teammates what is impressive for one position group is not the best of news for a group on the other side of the ball. I will be closely watching those linebackers, corners and safeties in pass coverage. It is entirely possible that they had some impressive moments after the media left. An improved defense under new coordinator Travis Williams is as important to this team as the changes that Enos is trying to make. A good give and take between offense and defense in August is usually a sign of success come September.