By Otis Kirk
Arkansas is getting healthier as Saturday’s spring game and Monday’s conclusion to drills draws nearer.
Chad Morris met with the media on Tuesday following practice. He talked about injuries and getting some players back out to practice.
“We’ll know more on CJ (O’Grady) probably later today or tomorrow,” Morris said. “Daulton (Hyatt) had the flu (on Tuesday) we hope to have him back. Devwah (Whaley) we hope to have him back Thursday and to be back out there practicing and playing some on Saturday. We’ll know more tomorrow. I know he’s feeling better. Drew Vest should be back. Silas (Robinson) is a possibility. It was good to get those guys back out there in green.
“Colton Jackson is out. He went in there and had his surgery. It wasn’t near what we thought it was so he’ll be back a lot quicker. He’ll be back probably in a couple of weeks which is good. D’Vone McClure is back so he’ll be back out there. I think for the most part we’re getting a lot of guys back outside of the normal ones that haven’t been with us.”
The defense has dominated most of the spring practices, but Morris was impressed with the other side of the ball on Tuesday.
“I thought it was a really good day offensively, probably one of the best days they’ve had this spring,” Morris said. “They won the belt today, which was good. They’ve been close, but turnovers have prevented that. Today they did much better on the turnovers, while we still had two turnovers, they were able to execute on first down and some big plays gave them the opportunity to win the belt. That was good to see.
“Again, these guys continue to improve on both sides of the ball. So I’m excited about where this football program is going. We’ll be back on the field on Thursday then obviously Saturday for the Spring Game. Back out there on Monday, to where we’ll close down spring practice discuss what we’ll be dealing with for the summer work, that will be Monday’s practice.”
Was this the first time the offense won the belt?
“I believe so,” Morris said. “There was a day that they should have won it, but because of lack of communication between some of the staff and support staff I defaulted the belt.”
What specifically did the offense do that made it a good day for them?
“The biggest thing I saw was consistency,” Morris said. “The lack of TFLs, which is a big thing, tackles for loss, was huge. Some big plays. Chase Hayden had a big play to start off a drive that scored. So just things like that. More or less consistency and positive yards on first and second down.”
Since the offense won the belt and had a good day, is it safe to assume the quarterbacks, Ben Hicks and John Stephen Jones, did well?
“I thought they both had a really good day,” Morris said. “Ben was very comfortable today and his consistent play has just continued to bring the offense along and progress all the quarterbacks. I think the quarterbacks today had a good day – all of them did. One of the things we did today was we finished up and we had a big scrimmage on Saturday, so over the last two days we’ve really challenged our guys through watching the film of things we have to improve on.
“How they came out today at practice was a big response and a big test, because some of the guys we did not think they performed as well Saturday, so we challenged them – as we do every week and every day. Those guys came out and they did a really good job responding, and that’s what I would expect and they would expect.”
A defender that not only practiced well on Tuesday, but has all of spring according to Morris is junior safety Kamren Curl.
“I think he’s, as I shared with him, he’s been one of the top performers this spring, in my opinion,” Morris said. “Just watching him and his consistent play. I think from his leadership to the way he’s performed this spring. Even coming back in January, just the way he’s approached his day-to-day work, coming back in January and leading into the second quarter of spring ball. Kam is representing this program, and he’s doing some really good things right now.
“He’s doing some really good things right now, and you can just see a complete and overall different buy-in with him. He understands that he’s a vocal leader now on the defensive side. I think he’s been one of our top performers this spring, especially on the defensive side. He and Sosa (Agim) both, because I think both guys have been challenged and they have responded to the challenge. The challenge has been we’ve got to have more consistency out of both of you, and they’ve done that.”
Arkansas will practice Thursday and then the spring game will begin at 3 p.m. Saturday in Reynolds Razorback Stadium.