FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Senior Devwah Whaley and junior Rakeem Boyd are two of the running backs Arkansas is counting on this fall.
The two met with the media on Monday following the ninth practice of the preseason. It was very hot on Monday, but Whaley wasn’t fazed by that.
“I’m from southeast Texas so to me it’s not that bad,” Whaley said. “I’m used to it. Guys out there working. We’re getting used to it. It’s gonna be hot on Saturdays. Some Saturdays gonna be hotter than that. We’ve got to use that as our advantage and continue to work through it.”
Whaley scored a touchdown on Saturday. Reportedly some offensive linemen picked him up and helped him into the end zone.
“Man, I don’t really remember too much,” Whaley said. “The last thing I remember I just got picked up and thrown into the end zone. It was an inside zone call run and I did all I could do and the big guys helped me out.”
How was the practice today and the scrimmage overall?
“The practice went well and the scrimmage was pretty good too,” Whaley said. “We’ve got a lot of things to work on but we’re getting better each and every day and that’s all you can ask for.
“Running backs did well. We did everything we could and the guys did a good job upfront. As I said, we’ve got to continue to get better.”
Following Saturday’s scrimmage, Chad Morris said they have about twice as much of the playbook in this year as opposed to this time last year. Whaley talked about the reason that has happened.
“Yeah, just because we’re year two and a lot of guys are comfortable with the offense so we’re able to expand,” Whaley said. “We can go in-depth a little bit more with the offense.”
Unless something changes, the team will scrimmage in Reynolds Razorback Stadium on the new grass field for the first time on Saturday. Whaley is looking forward to that and likes the move from turf.
“Just getting out there for the first time, seeing how it feels, kind of get used to it so we can get ready for the season,” Whaley said. “Pretty much everywhere we’ve played in the SEC is grass. I don’t have a problem with it. I actually like grass, so.”
Boyd is also looking forward to getting in the stadium on Saturday.
“It would be lovely to get the feel of that grass for Saturdays,” Boyd said. “I’m just ready to run on it and see how it feels.”
Whaley talked about ball security this preseason from the running backs.
“Ball security has been great,” Whaley said. “Last Saturday in the scrimmage, we didn’t give up any turnovers, no fumbles or anything like that. We just have to continue to stress the fundamentals and just get better each and every day.”
The offense got the belt on Monday which hasn’t happened much. Boyd was pleased with that.
“We did get the belt,” Boyd said. “On red zone we were getting after them today, so the offensive line did a good job today. We were working.”
Boyd, like Whaley, feels a lot more comfortable with the offense this season.
“I feel a lot more comfortable,” Boyd said. “I’ve got more body armor on me I feel like this year, just to take those hits I was taking.”
A shoulder injury hampered Boyd much of last season forcing him to leave games early. Is it a 100-percent now?
“When I first came here, my shoulder, I couldn’t even get it up (above my head), but now I can lift it all the way up, so it’s pretty good,” Boyd said
What was the original injury to the shoulder?
“I did it at Texas A&M with some weights, and the weights swung to the side and it kind of just tore up (his shoulder),” Boyd said. “I tore my rotator cuff pretty bad and my labrum. Then I got all of that fixed and now we’re good. I tried to keep it a secret coming in. I played with it and think I did fine and now I’m just trying to get this ready for the season.”
How difficult was it playing with a bad shoulder last fall?
“I felt a little pop in it, but really I was just trying to be physical the whole time,” Boyd said. “It worked out pretty well, and then I just told (the coaches) after the season what was up and got it fixed.”
Did the coaches realize how bad it was?
“We just had to get it fixed,” Boyd said. “At first I didn’t want to get it fixed. They were like, ‘Hey, let’s get it fixed. You know, maybe going to the pros you’re not going to be ready.’ So we just went ahead and got it fixed. I’m glad I did. It feels like a whole normal shoulder. I can do all of that.”
How good can the running game be with you, Devwah and the remainder of the backs?
“Man, we don’t even know what we can do yet,” Boyd said. “We’ve just kind of got closer this year and trying to work together as a unit to just push forward and, you know, go against teams together.
“Chase (Hayden) can bring everything. Chase is outstanding. He can beat you with speed. He’s quick and he’s very powerful and strong, so he’ll be in the mix, too.
“We can be pretty good this year. We’re still working on the little things, like finishing reps. It was hot out there today, so we had to finish and push through and not worry about the heat. Just little things like that.”
Arkansas will return to the practice fields on Tuesday at 10:05 a.m.