FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas lost three starters off last year’s offensive line and one of the two returnees this season is playing a new position.
Beaux Limmer is moving from right guard to center. Limmer did shift over to center for the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. Brady Latham is back at left guard. The spring ended with Devon Manuel at left tackle, Joshua Braun right guard and Patrick Kutas right tackle. Sam Pittman talked about the offensive line on Wednesday.
“I like Beaux a lot, I like Brady,” Pittman said. “I like Braun. I like them all. But I knew a little bit about Braun. He’s played like 700-something snaps over at Florida. Obviously Beaux, I think moving Beaux over to center is going to help us as a football team and I know it’s going to help him as draft-able offensive lineman.
“What we’ve got to do in all honesty is we’ve got to make sure our tackles are right. And I believe in both tackles that we have. I believe in further deep. I believe in (Andrew) Chamblee. I believe in (E’Marion) Harris? I believe in (Ty’Kieast) Crawford. We’ve got to find out who’s going to help us win at tackle. We believe that Kutas is ultra-talented, and Devon Manuel.”
Pittman is hoping to find out not just who are the starting tackles, but who is the next three to five offensive linemen who will have to be ready to play.
“We’ve got to find that,” Pittman said. “And to be honest with you the next question is who’s going to be the next center? If it all works out the best, Brady Latham won’t move to left tackle if something happened to the starter. He’ll stay at left guard and we’ll plug one in. We won’t make two moves for one loss. If something happens, (Josh) Street or Amaury Wiggins will go in there at center so we don’t have to move Kutas from right tackle to center.”
“If we could get a true two deep, which we haven’t been able to do since I’ve been here. And it’s hard to do. Usually you talk about eight guys and they’re rotating and all that stuff. But one move turns out to be two and you really don’t want to do that if you can.”
Pittman admits he is going to lean on Limmer and Latham for leadership. In the past maybe Ricky Stromberg and Dalton Wagner handled more of that aspect. But they are gone.
“I think both of them are more do by example,” Pittman said. “They’re not loud, which … not vocal. In other words, like Beaux you would think he’s so strong he would (be more vocal) but he’s not, he’s by example. Like I say he squats 700 pounds and he works his tail off. So those guys will be, they don’t say a lot unless something’s wrong and then they’ll fix it really fast. This is their last go-around. I think they’re looking to … you know they’ve been in a comfort zone because of the guys on their left, the guys on their right. Ricky being here between the two of them and all that stuff. It’s their time now and I think they’re going to embrace it. I think they’ll have fun with it.”
Arkansas will begin practicing at 6:30 a.m. on Friday morning.