FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said his veteran team understands it has an opportunity to gain ground in the Southeastern Conference’s Western Division standings this weekend.
The Razorbacks also realize it will take something special to accomplish it because of how dominant its opponent — No. 3 LSU — has been this season.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas receiver Mekale McKay admits he was a little concerned when coach Bret Bielema was hired last December.
The sophomore wasn’t alone. There were several receivers who raised their eyebrows after learning the program was being taken over by a coach whose offensive plan was centered on a power run game at Wisconsin. It wasn’t exactly what they had grown accustomed to at Arkansas, when a pass-first philosophy had made the program and attractive destination for wideouts.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas sophomore Rohan Gaines understands that at 5-foot-11, 190-pounds he’s considered undersized for his strong safety position.
He endured a few bumps and bruises last season, suffering minor injuries during 11 starts as a redshirt freshman. He even was banged up earlier this spring, landing on his shoulder while trying to make a play during a Saturday scrimmage.
1. Move The Ball
Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said he was impressed with his group’s performance during goal line work during last Saturday’s scrimmage.
FAYETTEVILLE — A midweek series against New Mexico was supposed to inject confidence into an Arkansas team preparing for a top 10 show down against LSU.
Instead, Tuesday’s doubleheader at Baum Stadium left the Razorbacks breathing a sigh of relief as they move into the weekend series against the Tigers.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas is back at Baum Stadium for a midweek series against New Mexico. But the chance of inclement weather Wednesday has turned the originally scheduled two-day series into a Tuesday doubleheader.
The Razorbacks (23-9, 8-4 in SEC) and Lobos (16-15, 8-4 in Mountain West) will play two nine-inning games today with first pitch for game one set for 3:05 p.m. The second game will begin roughly 30 minutes after the completion of game one.
FOUR DOWNS – ARKANSAS SPRING PRACTICE NOTES
1. Bielema’s QB Assessment
1. Music Man
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema invited fans to attend Saturday’s scrimmage, opening practice for the first time this preseason. He also treated the estimated crowd of 500 in attendance to some reggae during the early portions of practice.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach Bret Bielema needs to identify dependable running backs in his plan to turn the Razorbacks into a power running team.
Sophomore Jonathan Williams showed Bielema and the rest of the coaching staff he should be a viable option during Saturday’s scrimmage in Razorback Stadium.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Ryne Stanek and Michael Gunn combined on a four-hit shutout as No. 12 Arkansas clinched its weekend series against Alabama with a 6-0 victory on Friday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
The Razorbacks improve to 23-8 overall and 8-3 in Southeastern Conference play, while the Crimson Tide drop to 19-13 and 7-4 in league play.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas’ Chris Smith and Trey Flowers formed one of the Southeastern Conference’s most productive defensive end duos during their first season as full-time starters in 2012.
Smith ranked fourth in the SEC with 9 1/2 sacks, while Flowers was tied for ninth with six. Each had 13 tackles for losses, too, which was tied for fifth in the SEC.
1. Open scrimmage
Fans can finally get their first look at an Arkansas spring practice under new coach Bret Bielema today.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Five Arkansas pitchers combined to allow one unearned run on four hits as the 12th-ranked Razorbacks opened their series against Alabama with a 3-1 win on Thursday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
The Razorbacks improve to 22-8 overall and 7-3 in the Southeastern Conference, while the Crimson Tide drop to 19-12 and 7-3 in league play.
1. Who Is The Mike?
The Arkansas coaching staff is trying to find which players fit best at what positions this spring. One of the early areas of concern appears to be at middle linebacker.
FAYETTEVILLE — One of the first things Sam Pittman did when he arrived at Arkansas was scan video of returning players.
The Razorbacks’ new offensive line coach was curious about the returning players, eager to get a quick look at the personnel he would be working with in his new position. Pittman said Tuesday there was one player who particularly stood out that night, but couldn’t figure out why he hadn’t heard much about him.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas closer Colby Suggs takes pride in toughness.
He was a high school center, playing in the trenches at Sulpher Springs High despite being just 6-foot. His teammates often describe him as a bulldog because of his toughness on the mound. Suggs even has the word “tough” written under his cap.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas guard Mitch Smothers said the message has been loud and clear to offensive linemen since spring practice began last month.
Don’t cost the Razorbacks five yards because of pre-snap penalties.
FAYETTEVILLE — Myke Tavarres couldn’t temper his feelings when he found out who was going to be Arkansas’ linebackers coach.
The junior college prospect had just signed with the Razorbacks, becoming part of Bret Bielema’s first class. So he already was eager to enroll in classes, get on campus and start working out with his new team. The desire only intensified when the Razorbacks announced former Miami coach Randy Shannon had been hired.
1. Inconsistent at QB
Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said quarterbacks Brandon Allen and Brandon Mitchell were “inconsistent” during last Saturday’s scrimmage. But it wasn’t a big surprise as Arkansas introduces a new offensive philosophy this spring.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas has gotten off to a solid start in Southeastern Conference play. But as Arkansas (21-8, 6-3 in Southeastern Conference) prepares for its next test at Alabama (18-11, 7-2) beginning Thursday night, coach Dave Van Horn said the Razorbacks have plenty of room for improvement in a variety of areas.
Van Horn, speaking after the monthly Swatter’s Club meeting, pointed particularly to the bottom half of his lineup. The group — which has typically included second baseman Dominic Ficociello, catcher Jake Wise, center fielder Jacob Morris, first basemen Willie Schwanke and Eric Fisher — have struggled to produce.