NWADG College Football


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10 NWA COLLEGE FOOTBALL PREVIEW | 8.28.2022 Crook and Kaden Henley have all flashed in practices. Pittman said there is hope there are enough defensive linemen to play a four-man front, something defensive coordinator Barry Odom rarely showed the last two seasons. If not, then can they blitz more? "What you have to do is play solid man-to-man coverage on the outside at cornerback," Pittman said. "I think we can. We have much more depth there." Odom thinks the third year in his system will pay dividends in other areas. He sees a deeper secondary and perhaps at linebacker, an area that has been too thin for too many seasons at Arkansas. "If we can be great teachers, stay healthy and understand the importance of how their position all fit together, then we will have a defense you can win with," Odom said. "I'm excited to have a chance to coach this group again. They like to compete. We made progress the entire 15 days this spring. That's not coach talk. We did. "It helps to be in the same system. They understand terminology. Consistency makes a difference in the way you play. When you have the same voice and the same call, you play faster. It enables you to understand it and then go execute it." The Hogs do one thing extremely well in Odom's system, fly to the ball. They also have played with great effort. The secondary is deeper with the addition of transfers Dwight McGlothern (LSU) and Latavious Brini (Georgia). But it all starts with safety Jalen Catalon, out the last seven games last year with injuries to his shoulder and hand. Catalon is healthy and poised for a great junior season. He's a preseason All-SEC selection and considered by most on the same level as UA greats like Steve Atwater, Kenoy Kennedy and Ken Hamlin. The secondary is probably the team's deepest position with as many as five cornerbacks pushing for starting jobs led by LaDarrius Bishop and Hudson Clark. The Hogs appear loaded at running back, too. Raheim "Rocket" Sanders, A.J. Green, Dominique Johnson, and Rashod Dubinion all will get carries. But Jefferson is the key. He led the Hogs with 664 rushing yards last year. He was tops in carries with 146. He completed 67.3 percent of his passes, a school record. He threw for 21 touchdowns with only four interceptions. Briles said he was smoother in his operation of the offense in the spring. It's enough to get Briles excited. He said it's his first time as a play caller to have a returning quarterback. It's also what makes him think life without Burks will be OK. He looks forward to the challenge. "That's why they call us 'Coach,'" he said. "We have to figure out ways to get that production. We have to keep it streamlined for the players to keep it simple." The offensive line is solid. Wagner is healthy after a procedure in the spring to fix an issue with his back that limited him last year. Even at 100 percent he might split time with talented tackle Ty'Kieast Crawford, a candidate to spell right guard Beaux Limmer, too. Center Ricky Stromberg is an All-SEC type, too. Brady Latham, the left guard, has shown versatility to snap, too. The only question in the offensive line is at left tackle, but Wagner didn't sound like he had any doubts about Luke Jones, the probable starter there, in a late summer interview. "Luke has had an incredible summer," Wagner said. "He's going to be great at left guard." Jones split time with Latham at left guard last year and is a solid SEC offensive lineman. "I like where we are at left tackle," Pittman said. "I like where we are in the offensive line as far as depth. I think we have seven we can play, maybe eight. I think some others are coming along, too." There is depth in special teams where kicker Cam Little and punter Reid Bauer return. Newcomers Max Fletcher (punter) and Jake Bates (kicker) have provided competition in August camp. Share n Continued from Page 9 Sam Pittman | Arkansas Coach File Photo

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