FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas is on the practice fields Tuesday and most of the team was outside taking advantage of the outstanding weather.
Barry Lunney Jr. had some of the team inside while others were outside. Linebacker Bumper Pool was back at practice on Tuesday. He was limited last week while nursing an injury. Lunney had been asked about Pool and sophomore offensive guard’s availability on Monday.
“I think we are trending in the right direction in that regard,” Lunney said. “Refreshed, reenergized, we had two hard days of practice this (past) week. I do anticipate several of those guys being back. If I could sit here and tell you for sure are they going to be game ready, all those guys that you mentioned some that you haven’t, I don’t know that. But, I think we are all trending in the right direction.”
LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is possibly the favorite for the Heisman Trophy this season. He is having an outstanding year and has caught Lunney’s attention.
“He just wreaks of poise,” Lunney said. “If you watch him. I really haven’t paid much attention to him really. We’ve seen some coaches film of them crossed over against some of the defenses we’ve played. Just watching the game in person on the TV copy you can just see poise, confidence if there’s a difference between those I don’t know.
“You see a guy in control those are all synonyms probably. You see a guy that’s got a great supporting cast. He knows his coaches are putting him in great situations to succeed. He knows exactly where he’s going with the ball. Does not see the rush watches downfield. All the characteristics you would want to see in a great quarterback on top of being big, strong and throwing it moving ball to run. He’s really good.”
The Arkansas defense has had periods of good football and then had its issues in other instances. Lunney, who just was named interim coach on Nov. 10, talked about the lack of consistency on defense.
“I haven’t spent a signifcant amount of time trying to digest that,” Lunney said. “Obviously in the course of the year I’m staying in my lane with the tight ends and special teams responsibilities as you can imagine my plates been very full. In the last what now, eight or nine days, my plate has been very full as well. But I think you would be quick to say or easy to say at times we have played some really good defense.
“We’ve have some breakdowns and it has kinda been a perfect storm. Hearing Chief and the other defensive coaches talk about it when we’ve made some mistakes it’s been glairing because they’ve hit the exact right gap, exact right calls and that’s created some of the larger more explosive plays. Again, our focus is to play our best game. In order to do that you’ve got to play your gap, your responsibility, play with grit and toughness, great effort and maybe we can piece together four quarters of really good defense in the moments we’ve captured. The periods and quarters that we’ve captured that’s what we’re gonna need to do these last two weeks is to play our very best for four quarters on both sides of the ball.”
While the season has seen inconsistency on both sides of the football, senior kicker Connor Limpert has generally had a very good season.
“Just Steady Eddy,” Lunney said. “He’s kind of a grinder and he’s got a grinder mentality. Which is kind of unique in some way for a specialist. I’m not saying they’re not tough because, man, you’ve got to be mentally tough to do that. I still don’t even know how they get the ball off the ground. Unless you give me a square toe I can’t get the ball off the ground. I wouldn’t even know where to kick the thing to get it up.
“It’s amazing to me when they do and they do it over and over again. It really still amazes me. But he’s really just been Steady Eddy. He’s been Mr. Consistent. He hasn’t been perfect, but name me one that has been. But he’s been very reliable, keeps a low profile, he’s done his job. Need more guys like him.”
Arkansas will practice again on Wednesday.