Fayetteville, Ark. – News and notes from the past two days of fall practices for the 2012 Arkansas Razorback football team.
Walk this way, talk this way…
The player position experiments on the Razorback roster continues to go well for the Arkansas coaching staff.
Backup quarterback Brandon Mitchell has performed well at wide receiver, so much so he’s been letting the defense know about it. Mitchell was overheard telling linebacker Jarrett Lake that “you don’t have anybody over there that can cover me” during practice.
Mitchell also told the receiving unit to “watch and learn” from him.
If the Mitchell experiment works out, at 6-foot 4-inches he will be the second tallest receiver on the team behind true freshman 6-foot 6-inch Mekale McKay.
Word is McKay has been tearing it up thus far in practices and could be playing his way into game time this fall.
The bigger Small experiment
The second of three experiments with the 2012 Arkansas roster is fullback Kiero Small’s time at linebacker.
Small, 5’10”, 255 pounds, has the heft and mentality to play linebacker in the SEC but does he have the instincts to play at a SEC Championship level throughout the season?
Small got the better of running back Kody Walker in practice. Walker runs somewhere around 6’2”, 240 pounds… and too upright last time we saw him in game action.
The collision had to be fun to watch. Small knows the offenses plays thus he can go to the spot and wait for the ball carrier. How will he respond to the opposition’s offense in live action?
Bringing the wood is one thing being there to deliver it is another.
Tank back on track
Tank Wright had missed a few practices since taking a big hit from running back Knile Davis in practice earlier in the week. Wright is moving from defensive end to middle linebacker to fill the void left by graduated linebacker Jerry Franklin, experiment number three.
Wright is speculated (by me) to have concussion like symptoms and was held out of practice for those reasons. He was back on the practice field running around yesterday but was held out of full-contact plays.
The treatment of Arkansas players during the Petrino era, extending into the 2012 season, has always been to the player’s benefit. No player has been rushed back onto the field before said player is healthy again. Wright’s treatment appears to keep this positive trend going forward.
Having Tank take snaps, react, and run to the play will only help him improve. The hitting can come later… and we all know Tank is a big hitter.
Depth at safety improving
Projected starter at strong safety Eric Bennett has been kept out of practices because of a hamstring injury allowing Kelvin Fisher, Jr. time on the field.
Fisher was a 2,000 yard rushing running back out of Queen Creek, Ariz., (Recruiting Class of 2011) before making the switch to cornerback during spring practices.
Word is Fisher has done well in the transition from corner to safety.
Rohan Gaines has played really well and is projected to start at free safety in place of Ross Rasner when Rasner is playing Star linebacker in specific defensive alignments.
Could he be back?
After spring practices in 2011 safety Darrell Smith (6’3”, 198 pounds, Port St. Joe, FL) looked like a rising star on defense for the Hogs. Before the 2011 season started Smith had left the team.
The Rumor Mill has Smith looking to get back on the team; more information to come if anything further develops.
Kick Return Specialists
Junior college transfer wide receiver Demetrius Wilson (2012) has been getting the lion’s share of reps at punt returner with the dismissal of Marquel Wade. Wilson has impressed the coaching staff with his moves and ability to secure the ball.
Dennis Johnson has missed two practices for personal reasons regarding his family; he is not in trouble with program in anyway. In Johnson’s absence running back Ronnie Wingo and wide receiver Keante Minor have been returning kickoffs in practice.
Defense catching up
On Thursday the defense finally caught up with the offense in scrimmage action.
During Tuesday’s scrimmage quarterbacks Brandon Allen and Tyler Wilson sliced the defense apart. Thursday the defense was more active breaking up passes and interrupting the quarterback’s timing in the pocket.
The defense showed a physical presence not seen in other practices.