FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas football team continued dual practices Sunday morning and afternoon in Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. UA’s veterans took the morning shift, with newcomers working out in the afternoon. The two sessions marked the second day the football squad donned shoulder pads, along with helmets and jerseys.
Special teams coordinator and outside linebackers coach John L. Smith noted the improvement of Arkansas’ newcomers, but stated continual advancement is always needed down the depth chart.
"I think it is has been very good for the rookies here," Coach Smith said. "Coach Petrino wanted us to split these practices up for a reason. It allows for individualized coaching. It lets these players know how important they are going to be; maybe not this year, but down the road. That’s why we are spending time with them now."
Learning new plays and new schemes from the Razorback coaching staff can be tough, Coach Smith noted. He told UA’s new squad members to keep working hard and the team’s veteran leadership will do its part.
"Fall camp is fall camp," Coach Smith said. "It’s always going to be tough. It is meant to be hard. We’re going to start getting even harder. It’s more to learn; more for us to teach. The veterans are the good thing though. We have a lot of veterans that have picked it up pretty quickly."
Specials teams have been focused on early in fall practices. Coach Smith has been happy with what he’s seen so far, stating that competition will only make the units stronger by the time the 2010 campaign begins.
"Anytime you have competition, one guy might not perform well one day, so the other guy will move up," Coach Smith said. "I like it. There is going to come a point in time that if it doesn’t sort itself out, then we’ll have to make a decision."
The practice sessions also featured rounds of skeleton drills, with preseason All-SEC first-team quarterback Ryan Mallett working the drill alongside teammate Tyler Wilson in the morning and underclassmen Brandon Mitchell and Brian Buehner throwing passes in the afternoon.
Coach Smith explained that having players jockeying for positions in August is part of the coaching staff’s method for preparation.
"It’s the newcomers’ obligation to come beat guys out," Coach Smith said. "It’s our veterans’ obligation to not allow that to happen."
August practices continue in the coming week, with the initial full-team sessions taking place for the first time. Fans are welcome to attend UA practices through August 21 (excluding August 19). For more information on Razorback football, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.