FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas’ Barry Lunney Jr. is leading the special teams this season and he’s looking for competition leading to improvement with kickoffs and punting.
Arkansas added Colorado transfer Sam Loy recently and he will compete as a punter and on kickoffs. In 2016, Loy was named to the All-SEC Freshman Team as a punter while he was at Vanderbilt.
Lunney talked about Loy and what he brings to the competition.
“Obviously we were thrilled to be able to get somebody of Sam’s experience in to help stimulate our competition which is what you’ve got to have no matter what position,” Lunney said. “But sometimes that specialist world because your numbers are sometimes small you lose out on some competition. But because of Sam and Reid (Bauer) who showed some flashes last year.
You couldn’t get a guy to punt any better than what he punted against A&M last year. Just phenomenal. His best game of the year. He was money. Between him, Sam and Matt Phillips. Matt had a great spring for us. Matt is probably our most versatile specialist as far as helping us in place-kicking, kickoffs and punting. It’s about competition and I’m really excited to see Sam get after it with the the other guys. His experience is greatly valued.”
Connor Limpert handled the kickoffs last year, but Loy and Phillips are set to compete with him for that duty this fall.
“He’s (Loy) got the potential there and so does Matt Phillips,” Lunney said.
“We need to kick the ball deeper and higher and cover better. We can’t start the game off giving up a big one. Those are obvious statements. We’re not going to live in fear and if they do that we’ve got to cover the next one.
“But coverage units we can fix the most from what happened last year. If you are part of the punt coverage unit which I was, and you played on punt last year it was sickening. We were the laughingstock last year after North Texas. If you don’t use that to change your perception there is something wrong with you. But the truth is after the Auburn game last year we really did do a good job of responding. The last eight games we got better at that. But we’ve got to start the year off strong. From one to 12 we’ve got to go strong.”
Limpert was 19 of 24 on field goals and perfect on 29 point after touchdowns. He had a long of 55 yards on field goals. Lunney was pleased with that aspect of Limpert’s game.
“He’s a grinder,” Lunney said. “That’s what Connor is. He sometimes doesn’t hit the prettiest ball and he doesn’t have perfect technique. But he has a way of getting the job done. We look for him to do that again. He’s been really consistent and productive for us. Like all of our football team, he’s one of our seniors and we’re counting on him.”
Arkansas’ first practice this preseason will be Friday night at 6:15 p.m.