FAYETTEVILLE — Sophomore wide receiver Trey Knox had one of the few highlights on offense during Friday’s scrimmage that was dominated by the defense.
Knox played in 11 games as a junior, all starts. He caught 28 passes for 385 yards and three touchdowns. Following the scrimmage, Knox talked about his big play on Friday.
“I couldn’t tell you how long the play was,” Knox said. “Just a simple little corner ball. I just got down, tried to ice the game. We just needed a first down to win and just made a play. It was a great ball Feleipe (Franks) threw and the O-line protected it perfectly and we just made a play.”
The play according to Sam Pittman was for 40 yards. Knox talked about the addition of Franks to the squad this season.
“It’s always good to have a veteran on your team,” Knox said. “He’s been doing this for years, year in, year out, playing against the best competition in the country. So just having that guy that knows the ropes, knows what people do and how to play against this competition is always needed. Just a big arm. Smart guy, cerebral guy. He knows what he’s doing. Doesn’t mess up that much, that I’ve seen. Just a big arm. He likes to push the ball down the field and he can make plays with his legs, too.”
The domination by the defense came one week after the offense had its way in a scrimmage. What happened on Friday?
“I think it was a little bit of both,” Knox said. “We didn’t play to our full potential today, but defense had a heck of a day today. They executed and they just got after our tails today.”
Knox talked about where he feels his improvement has been this season and also what expectations he has for himself.
“I just had to get back healthy,” Knox said. “I think that was the biggest thing to focus on. Last year I was dealing with that hip injury nagging the whole season. Now that that’s finally good I’m able to explode more, cut more, cut better and just overall take my game to the next level. Still running the routes but also moving faster than I was last season. I expect… I want to have 1,000 yards this season. I want to win a lot of games as a unit. And I think we can win a lot of games. We’re gonna throw the ball down the field, and we’re gonna score a lot of points.”
In recent seasons one of the issues with throwing the ball downfield has been the protection didn’t hold. How is that part of the game looking right now?
“Yes sir we do,” Knox said. “Our O-line is making bounds and leaps every week. We’re getting better every practice. I think we have some of the best O-line coaches in the nation. As you can see Coach Pittman and Coach (Brad) Davis, they’re getting our boys right and I think we’re going to be able to win with our front five.”
Knox recalled the game in which he hurt his hip last fall.
“It happened against Ole Miss,” Knox said. “I don’t know if you remember the play. It was the play where the corner didn’t line up on the field. The quarterback threw it out to me and he tackled me from the sideline. He put his helmet right on my joint. It took me really the whole season. I was battling it the whole season. I was taking shots on it week after week after week and it wasn’t getting fully healed. I’d say January is when I felt 100% back on my hip.”
With a healthy hip, Knox is once again focusing on yards after catch.
“I focused on it, but I was able to do that when I first got here,” Knox said. “In the spring game, or whatever, you saw a little cut or whatever. Just focused on my change of direction. With my hip that’s what was hurting me the most was not being able to move laterally. Now that getting that back right 100-percent helps me to move and make those cuts and make those plays after the catch, instead of just trying to run straight and hurting. I have focused on it over the offseason with sand pit drills and cone drills. Just trying to move and get better moving laterally.”
The conditioning and stamina has been a hot topic this preseason. Knox talked about the stamina and his thoughts on the team in that area.
“We definitely focused on our transitions,” Knox said. “He’s telling us, Coach Pittman’s telling us transitions are how we get our conditioning in, and so coming in and off the field is one of his points of emphasis, and he gets on our tails for not transitioning correctly. If we don’t sprint off the field or sprint on the field, get to the ball, then it’s not going to end well. Because he doesn’t want to run us after practice, so that’s when he says we get our conditioning in. And just going tempo with Coach (Kendal) Briles helps us get in shape, also. So I think from this week to last week our transition has been much better, and it’s been to the on par of what Coach Pittman likes to see.”
In a spring and preseason like no other considering all the COVID-19 stuff, Knox talked about where he his physically since the season opener is three weeks from today.
“I feel like the team’s morale is high,” Knox said. “We just want to go play, at the end of the day. Doesn’t matter who it is. Next man up mentality. Somebody step up and make a play, and we’re going to ride with that guy, whoever makes a play. And we’re just going to try to win game at the end of the day.”
Other than himself, Treylon Burks and Mike Woods, who else has looked good at wide receiver?
“De’Vion (Warren) and TJ (Hammonds), they’ve been playing so fast this whole camp,” Knox said. “They’re speedy guys. Just having that speed on the outside that can just take the top off the whole defense that we can air it out to when we need a big play down the field. Just to get somebody to go track the ball and go get it. That brings a lot to the table.
“Kendall Catalon has been playing his tail off. Karch Gardiner has been having a solid camp also. I think as a room we’re pretty deep. If somebody needs to come out a play, then somebody goes and gets them and makes a play. We have each others backs. Our chemistry goes a long way. We have one of the best rooms, I think, in the country.”
What has Catalon done that has impressed you?
“Hard worker,” Knox said. “He’s a grimey kind of guy. He’ll go in and make crack blocks, just do what anybody asks him to do, and he has great hands, and he knows how to get open. He knows how to work the top of his routes. Same thing with Karch. Karch does a lot fo great things and tremendous hands. Some of the best hands I’ve ever seen and knows how to get open. You know, they’re smaller guys, so they can get in and out of cuts with ease. And it’s amazing to see that those are the guys we have surrounding this room.”
As with everyone, Knox praised Burks who helped him form a great one-two true freshman punch at wide receiver in 2019.
“Ah, Treylon,” Knox said. “My boy. His game, man, very physical. That’s one thing I like about him. He’s big bodied in the slot. It’s a mismatch. You can’t cover a guy that moves that fast and is that big. Just seeing the way and the improvements that he’s made just in and out of his cuts, breaking down, being able to get out of the top of his route is just amazing being he’s 230. And just watching him move and catch the ball and run after the catch and how fast he is, that’s what he brings to the game.
“So, I think we’re alike in route running type deal. He might be a little faster than me, not too much (laughs). But yeah, the way we catch, the way we run our routes, the way we like to use our bodies to get open, I think those are all similar. And different? His run after the catch probably. It’s ridiculous. We see what he does with the ball in his hands on punt return. He’s just gifted in that aspect. I’m more of a head-ball type guy in the red zone. He’s more of a, ‘Get open type middle, catch the open ball touchdown,’ so I think that’s how we’re different. That’s what makes our room elite because we have so many guys that can do different things.”
Briles praised Knox earlier in the week for the job he has done.
“Trey’s really consistent,” Briles said. “He’s a long kid, probably 6-3 and a half. The thing that I’ve talked to Trey about is just trying to play more explosive. Beating people at the line of scrimmage, using his long limbs to his advantage.
“But Trey’s done everything we’ve asked. I really feel comfortable where he’s at. He catches the ball really well. I’d say he’s probably one of the smartest players on the field. He’s really intelligent, and that helps when you’re playing with tempo.”
Arkansas and Georgia will kickoff the 2020 season on Saturday, Sept. 26, at 3 p.m. CT in Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.