Closer Look at Arkansas’ Offense by Position With Preseason Drills Beginning Today

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FAYETTEVILLE — Kendal Briles is the new offensive coordinator at the University of Arkansas and today the team will start preseason drills.

Briles participated in a Zoom conference this past Friday and discussed various aspects of the offense. He talked about the quarterbacks and some other aspects of the offense in an article on Hogville.net.

Here’s a brief look with Briles about each position on offense other than quarterback.

Running Backs

Senior Rakeem Boyd is the key to the running game. Boyd rushed 184 times for 1,133 yards and eight touchdowns in 2019. He also caught 19 passes for 160 yards. Here’s thoughts from Briles on the running backs other than Boyd who is the obvious starter.

“I’m pleased with the running backs,” Briles said. “I know you are not asking about Rakeem but from a leadership standpoint he’s been unbelievable. He’s been really, really good. Not just with the running back group or offense – he’s been a great teammate overall. So I can’t say enough good things about Rakeem and how he’s been. You know production, take care of the football, pass protection and all those things. Being able to play at tempo where the quarterback is not having to tell the guy what do do. Because in our offense that happens a lot. Our signals come in a hurry. The quarterback has got to react. The running back has got to get signals to the line. Trelon Smith has done a tremendous job back there. I think we have host of guys who are going to be able to help us at the running back position. We feel like (A’Montae) Spivey, T.J. Hammonds is kind of going back and forth. We feel like he’s looked good at receiver. We’ll see how it checks out and if we can keep all those guys healthy.  We’ll need them.”

Wide Receivers

The Hogs return three of the top four reception leaders from 2019. Gone is Cheyenne O’Grady at tight end, but the three wide receivers all return. Mike Woods had 33 receptions for 423 yards and four touchdowns, Treylon Burks caught 29 passes for 475 yards and Trey Knox added 28 catches for 385 yards and three touchdowns.

“I think we’ll find out this first week I know they’re gonna get a lot of reps and it’s by design,” Briles said. “We want to make sure everybody is getting reps and everybody is getting on the field and able to prove themselves. So those guys are gonna get worn out. They better find a cold tub quick because they are gonna need it, but I think our top level guys, the first 5-6 guys, can be really explosive. Then we’re gonna have to keep developing some of the younger guys and get them where they need to be. But I do think  that is a very good group. A strong group for us offensively. We’ve got some really good leaders in there. Trey Knox, Mike Woods and Treylon Burks. Those guys are really strong leaders in that group. I’m excited to watch them. Even see them run around and stop and act like they’re catching a ball, but I want to see them catch it. I want to see how the quarterbacks throw it. We’re all excited for that.

Briles on the depth.

“Yeah, I think we’ll find out this first week,” Briles said. “I know they’re going to get a lot of reps. That’s by design, we want to make sure that everybody’s getting reps, everybody’s getting on the field and able to prove themselves. So, those guys are going to get worn out. They better find a cold tub quickly, because they’re going to need it.

“I think our top-level guys, our first 5-6 guys, can be really explosive. Then we’re going to have to keep developing some of these younger guys and get them where they need to be. But I do think that is a very good group. It’s a strong group for us offensively. We’ve got some really good leaders in there. Trey Knox, Mike Woods, Treylon Burks, those guys are really strong leaders in that group. I’m excited to watch them. We can see them run around and act like they’re catching a ball, but I want to see them catch it. I want to see our quarterbacks throw, so we’re all excited about that.”

Briles on how many wide receivers he plays in a particular game.

“It all depends,” Briles said. “It also depends on how we feel about our tight ends, formationally, what we want to be in. If we feel like we’ve got a stronger tight end group than a receiver group, then we may need a 12 personnel with only two receivers on the field. If we feel really strong about our receivers and maybe not so much about the tight ends, we may be in 4-receiver sets. That kind of depends on when we get on the field and we’re able to determine exactly what we have. Typically, you’re going to see probably about five guys play a game, and some of those will be in limited roles. Most of the time you’re going to have three guys in the majority of the snaps.”

Tight Ends

Gone are four tight ends from 2019. In addition to O’Grady, Chase Harrell, Hayden Johnson and Grayson Gunter are all gone.

“I think we’ve got good tight ends,” Briles said. “We’ve got, it was the best thing for the team to move Blayne (Toll) back over. He’s looked really good which we knew that he would.  But I feel good about the guys in that room. (Blake) Kern and (Hudson) Henry, those guys have done a good job. And then (Nathan) Bax is another player that we have that’s done a good job there. I think we have good depth at that position. We’ve got to continue to evaluate the physicality.  That’s going to be the whole thing.  All the walk-throughs you can see where guys fit and make sure they are executing but really, really it targets once you put on pads and do it in a physical manner.  That’s when you are going to be able to see who is going to hold gaps and move people. So that’s going to be big once we can get in pads and evaluate those guys.  We’ll see who separates.”

Offensive Line

Briles on the offensive line.

“Getting all of these reps with these practices that we’ve had has really helped us schematically,” Briles said. “Being able to film it all, coach it all. Coach Davis does a tremendous job. Obviously, Coach Pittman will have an eagle eye on the offensive line since that’s what he’s watched his entire life. I feel like we’ve got some really good players right there.

“Coach Walker and our strength staff have done an awesome job. You can tell from January to where we’re at right now these guys have changed physically. I think they’ve slimmed up, put on some muscle mass and looked good. I feel like our energy level has been really good at that position, as well. We’ve got good players. Now we’ve just got to go out and see how physical we can be.

“Barry, they do a lot of stuff on defense and they’re going to make it hard on us. We’re going to have to come to work every single day and know exactly what we’re getting into there, because he does a great job. But I feel like the depth at that position, I feel like we’ll have 10 guys that we’ll feel really good about.”

Arkansas will practice today at 2:45 and it’s closed.

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