HOGS: O line improving; more notes
FAYETTEVILLE - The offensive tempo has slowed, and Shane Clenin’s confidence has sped up.
That’s seems a winning combination for Arkansas’ third-year sophomore lineman, who has progressed from redshirt letterman reserve to starting left guard in Arkansas’ spring drills.
Second-year UA coach Chad Morris, trying to accelerate tempo last year but going 2-10 with a team not ready for the pace, this spring stresses fundamental improvement over tempo.
“It’s good for us because we can really focus on our technique and our craft,” Clenin said. “And we really don’t have to worry about going fast and looking around at everything that’s going on. So it’s helped us a lot. Just to grow every day and get better every day.”
Daily improvement has been the mantra since the offensive line shared in the blame and then some last year with Arkansas 0-8 in the SEC.
“We just have to focus on us,” Clenin said. “We’re really going to focus on technique and getting better eery day, and making sure they have nothing to talk about.”
Clenin of Festus, Mo., is listed 6-6, 302 and appears ready to make the move that the previous UA coaching staff predicted when they recruited and redshirted him in 2017 after he went through extra drills in 2017 as a December high school graduate.
“This is my third spring, which is good,” Clenin said. “I feel comfortable. I feel powerful. I feel how I should to possibly be in a starting position.”
He’s never felt that way before as a Razorback.
“I’ve been a guy whose confidence has been an issue,” Clenin said. “I get really down on myself sometimes, but with age I get more confident and more happy with my ability and more comfortable with my body. Now I’m in the spot where I feel l know what to do, and I can do a good job of it.”
He got a chance to do some of that during the late portion of Thursday’s practice devoted to some team hitting. Clenin gets a big chance with Saturday’s closed scrimmage at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
Tight end Cheyenne O’Grady said off Thursday’s practice that the offense has some atoning to do in Saturday’s scrimmage.
“The offense, just as a group, we weren't really doing that well,” O’Grady said. “We didn't bring it today, so we're going to try to come back and be better on Saturday and try to establish who we really are and what we can do.”
NOLAND ON MOUND
While the football team scrimmages, redshirt freshman quarterback Connor Noland of Greenwood will be pitching for UA baseball as Saturday’s 1 p.m. starter against Louisiana Tech.
But Noland was out there in his second spring football practice Thursday while the Razorbacks completed their fourth of the 15 allotted spring workouts.
“It’s been going good,” Noland said of practicing two sports. “It’s been a lot of fun. It’s been a new challenge, and I’m having a (good) time doing it. Right now it’s been enjoyable and I’m progressing through it.”
Noland said the practice pace stressing fundamentals has made it easier for him to keep with football even while not on the field as often as his teammates.
STEADY OLD/NEW HAND
Noland has welcomed the presence of graduate transfer QB Ben Hicks, Morris’ 2016 and 2017 SMU starting QB when Morris head coached the Mustangs.
“Definitely, he’s brought a lot of leadership,” Noland said. “I’ve learned a lot from him in the short time he’s been here. He’s been a great addition, and I love having him around. He’s a great guy.”
Yet another graduate transfer quarterback, Nick Starkel departing Texas A&M, joins the Razorbacks this summer.
“No doubt, I love the competition,” Noland said. “I love when they bring in new guys, and we’ll get new faces in the quarterback room. We’ll have a lot of high competitors and great competition in there.”
SCHOOL OF HARD KNOX
In two spring practices and winter workouts, Noland already has seen enough from 6-5 Trey Knox, a December high school graduate receiver, to be impressed.
“We came out and threw the first time and I was like, ‘Dang, this guy can kind of move for a 6-5 guy!’ Noland said. “I was really surprised. He moves well and excited about him.”