FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas’ first scrimmage of the preseason had some highlights, but not all of it was pleasing to Sam Pittman.
Pittman talked about the scrimmage afterward.
“I thought we played extremely hard,” Pittman said. “We had too many penalties. The ball wasn’t on the ground a lot, but we did have the ball on the ground twice. I thought our special teams looked good. I thought our defense outlasted the offense. In other words, I felt like maybe the last half of the scrimmage, I felt like the defense controlled the energy of the scrimmage.
“We came out fairly injury free. DeDe Edwards was dinged up a little bit. I think that’s it that I know about at this time about guys getting dinged up. Other than that, I was proud of the effort. It was good to go in the morning. It was a little bit cooler for us. I was proud of our kids. It was a good first scrimmage. We obviously had SEC officials out there, and we had too many penalties.”
Pittman didn’t hesitate when asked about the penalties.
“I can tell you exactly, too many defensive pass interferences, too many false starts on offense, and I think we cut down our jumps on the defensive line, there were two there, but that’s two too many,” Pittman said. “But we had too many pass interference, too much holding on the offensive line. It was just, it wasn’t what I would call sloppy until maybe the fourth quarter. Then it got kind of sloppy, which tells you we’re not anywhere near where we need to be.”
True freshman kicker Cam Little was perfect on three field goals. The field goals were from 46, 52 and 37. Grant Morgan recovered a fumble on a Montaric Brown hit.
“We went down on a goal line. The defense stopped the offense on the goal line from the 1 two plays in a row. They were on the four, and they got it down to the 1 on the first play and were stopped there. I thought that was good by our defense. Mo Brown had a corner blitz and hit the running back and knocked the ball loose. It was a great disguise. We work on it all the time. Great disguise. Really good, physical hit. I thought (Reid) Bauer punted well.”
Defensive end Tre Williams, who came from Missouri, had yet another huge day which pleased Pittman.
“They did a nice job of rushing the passer,” Pittman said. “Tre Williams might have had 2-3 sacks. I know he had 2, may have been more. (Markell) Utsey, (John) Ridgeway, I mean, you look at the guys we had from last year. I think Dorian Gerald has had a really good camp. He’s put on weight, about 270 now. He had a good day today, as well. Taurean Carter is continuing to come along, Eric Gregory, (Jashaud) Stewart. From a group that we were very concerned about as far as depth and starters and all that, it’s kind of taking shape a little bit. Those guys got after the quarterback, and a lot of times they were in a 3-man rush. Certainly we had a 4-man rush, as well.”
Last season the Hogs used a 3-man front the majority of time, but are also doing more 4-man fronts this year. Pittman has full confidence in Barry Odom, the defensive coordinator.
“Combination,” Pittman said. “I think Barry’s getting a little bit closer to the feeling of, you know I asked him before, I want to know how we’re playing the players, how many reps they have, what Barry’s thoughts are on the scrimmage and what Kendall’s (Briles) are. Going into the scrimmage he was feeling like he wanted to go half and half with his 4-down line and his 3-down line. I believe that you have to be able to do both. We weren’t as fortunate as what we are right now on D-line depth. So we felt like we were a better football team in a 3-down front if we get another safety on the field. But right now, I think, you know I’ve played Barry many times, I don’t know six or seven, whatever it was between Tennessee, Georgia and here. The thing that made him really hard are the multiple looks he can give you and keep the same people for the most part on the field.”
As far as the injuries to players Pittman feels good about most returning soon.
“AJ (Green) is probably, I expect him back no later than probably mid-week,” Pittman said. “I’d be shocked if he’s not back. I really want to see him next Saturday and I think we can get him back by then. I’m going to tell you I think Ricky (Stromberg) has a chance to get back by the scrimmage next week. I would be kind of shocked if he’s not. (Austin) Nix has been bummed up with that ankle. I’m not for sure if he won’t be back Tuesday maybe. I’m thinking, I’m guessing there. I don’t know about DD. I still have to wait and see exactly what his injury was, to be honest with you. Then we’ll go from there.”
In addition to the players, Hunter Yurachek was ran over on a play and took a cleat to the face.
“I didn’t know it happened, honestly.” Pittman said. “I visited with him about it right before I walked in here because I didn’t know it happened. Actually, my wife was at practice and she told me that Hunter got a cleat in the face. By the way, the cleat was on somebody’s foot. It wasn’t like somebody threw a cleat at him.”