FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas is trying to replace three starters on the offensive line which is something new for Sam Pittman.
Pittman and Cody Kennedy plugged Luke Jones in for Myron Cunningham last season and the offensive line was set. But gone now are Jones, Dalton Wagner and Ricky Stromberg and the Hogs are using different combos trying to find the right mix.
Beaux Limmer has moved from right guard to center which he did in the bowl game. Brady Latham returns at left guard and has played that as well as both tackles this spring. The rest of the starters will be new. Pittman compared the current situation to one year at Georgia where he was the offensive line coach.
“I’ll never forget it: I was at Georgia and I had Andrew Thomas at left tackle and then figured out, ‘Well, I think he’s one of our top five,’ and he was behind Isaiah Wynn, who was a first rounder,” Pittman said. “I go, ‘Well, I’m going to move him in here at left guard.’ He started at left guard, and this is all in preseason camp. I go, ‘You know what, I need a right tackle more than I need a left guard right now,’ and I moved him to right tackle two weeks before the first game.
“I remember Kirby (Smart) said, ‘Pittman, it better work man.’ And of course he went out there and we went to the national championship game and he was the fourth pick in the draft. Those things are fun to find out about your kids. I really believe we’ll find out that (Patrick) Kutas can play tackle. I believe that we will. Right now, we got exploited a little bit on the edge during the scrimmage. So we need a little help out there. We need to get better and things of that nature. Yes, I’m having a blast doing it and I have no reason to believe that we won’t have a really good offensive line again. We’ve just got to make sure we’ve got the right five out there at the right positions. And I am having fun doing it, yes.”
Kutas is a sophomore from Memphis who worked at tackle on Tuesday. He has also worked as second-team center behind Limmer.
“We tried (Joshua) Braun a little bit at tackle in the scrimmage,” Pittman said. “He obviously played guard, but then there was a point in time where we put him out there at tackle. We’re just trying to make sure that we have the best possible players out there, not only for the ones but for who might be that backup when we’re needed because of injury or something of that nature. Obviously, we recruited Kutas to play tackle, and he hadn’t gotten out there. He did a fine job at center in the scrimmage some, so I think we’re pretty solid that we think he could be that backup center, but we want to try and give him an opportunity to win the tackle position as well, and we’re going to do that this week.”
Among other options on the offensive line are E’Marion Harris, Andrew Chamblee, Ty’Kieast Crawford and Devon Manuel.
The Hogs will return to the practice fields on Thursday afternoon.