FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas held another practice as the Sept. 4 opener against Rice draws nearer.
The practice saw true freshman quarterback Landon Rogers move to tight end as the Hogs still search for depth there.
Following practice, Cody Kennedy met with the media to discuss the offensive line. He inherited a lot of talent on the offensive line and plenty of experience.
“A lot of starts in that room,” Kennedy said. “A lot of maturity. A lot of guys that have seen the ups and trends of this program. They’ve heard from a lot of different coaches. So just speaking their language and working on that. Building our calls and different things up front. It’s easier when you’ve have those guys that experienced change before. You’ve got a lot of starts in there. That’s experience just breeds confidence. It’s a lot of fun coaching them.”
Redshirt junior Luke Jones and redshirt sophomore Brady Latham are battling it out at left guard.
“It’s going to be down to the wire,” Kennedy said. “I’ll be honest with you, and it’s not one of those bad down to the wires either. They’re scrapping every day. They know what’s at stake. It’s not a secret in our room that there’s a competition there, You know, great, great programs, great teams, that’s the cornerstone of it is competition within those position groups. Those two guys are great kids that come to work every day. With Luke, you’re going to get a bigger kid. Brady’s been putting on weight and has done a great job getting up to over 300 pounds now, but Luke’s a little bit of a bigger kid, sturdier kid. With Brady, you’re going to get a very fiery young man who’s going to go at it every day. So, it’s going to come down to the wire but it’s not an ‘Oh man, who are we going to put out there,’ you know with dread. I’m excited to see how those guys play out and obviously attacking each day and doing a good job.”
With Ricky Stromberg missing some action, senior Ty Clary has been working at center. Kennedy likes what he has seen there.
“Absolutely. He’s had a past here playing center,” Kennedy said. “Doing a good job building confidence. In the long term, it’s going to really help the offensive line. Especially Coach (Sam) Pittman, obviously with his offensive line background, he’s always on me with how many guys you got who can snap the ball. Because obviously you can’t operate his offensive line if you don’t have a center. So we’re trying to be deep at that position. So, this is only increasing our depth and he’s doing a really good job. Obviously, he’s a senior so he’s got respect in the room from the other guys, and doing some things, or an older guy that has respect. So, him moving in there, he’s able to make calls. He’s coming along every day. Do I see him moving back to guard once Ricky gets back there? Absolutely. But he’s doing a great job and it’s only going to help us in the long term.”
While there’s a lot of experience on the offensive line a newcomer who should have a bright future is sophomore Ty’kieast Crawford.
“The young man has come into our program as a transfer, and he’s getting better every single day.” Kennedy said. “Every single day he does something, and I’m like ‘Man, the light is turning on.’ We’re doing some good things, and he’s doing some good things showing up to work every day, showing up to the meeting room, learning our schemes, which he’s been a part of some other schemes as well. So, learning the language for him, learning the calls within our offense. He wakes up every day and is striving towards getting better every day, which is what you want.”
This is Kennedy’s first year as an assistant at Arkansas. He talked about what his thoughts on as far as how many linemen to play in a normal game.
“As far as O-line rotation, I think you got to get the best five out there to start, but everybody in the country is looking for 10 really, really good offensive lineman,” Kennedy said. “There’s not a program in the country that is just overrun with great offensive linemen. That’s why recruiting is huge, but also as far as my personal philosophy, I think you’ve got to have guys that you trust on that second wave, about eight guys, that if something happens in a game.
“You can’t control the variables that are out there. If something happens, I don’t want my heart rate to go up because somebody is out there. So, we’re working every day with combo. What we call combo lines in practice where we’re mixing up guys where if X,Y, Z goes down, who’s going in. He may play right tackle right now. He may move to left guard. It really helps the kids with confidence too, because if you get throughout the season and there’s some of those circumstances that come up, the kids aren’t doubting themselves. They’ve been in that situation in practice. So, I’d say you got to have eight solid ones that you believe in but everybody in the country would take 10 to 12 for sure.”
Arkansas will return to practice Wednesday morning.