Arkansas held its first off-week practice Tuesday and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said the program’s young players were the centers of attention.
The Razorbacks held what Chaney described as a “developmental practice” three days after Arkansas was eliminated from the bowl conversation following its 34-24 loss at Ole Miss. Arkansas has two weeks to prepare for its next opponent — Mississippi State in Little Rock on Nov. 23) — so the Razorbacks used the first of three practices this week to looking at the future.
“It’s always exciting,” Chaney said about the developmental work. “There’s a little rejuvenation of enthusiasm when those young kids get to go play. We get to get our hands on them and coach them a little bit. It was fun.”
Arkansas fullback Kiero Small said the veterans spent time in the weight room before watching the young players work. He said younger fullbacks like Patrick Arinze and Chris Jones were “getting after it” during the extra practice work.
“Usually we get most of the reps,” Small said. “So it was good to see them fly around and just go out and play football.”
Chaney kept close tabs on redshirting quarterbacks Austin Allen and Damon Mitchell. The two earned ample practice repetitions in place of Brandon Allen.
Chaney said their familiarity with the offense is “what they’re lacking right now because they haven’t been around it very much.” But he said the practice work was good for them Tuesday since Arkansas won’t have any bowl workouts this season.
“There are a lot of players in that role right now,” Chaney said. “Hopefully through (Tuesday) and through the rest of this week, as coach (Bret Bielema) continues to let these young men play, it’ll be fun to watch them develop a little bit.”
2. Snapping Back
Arkansas center Travis Swanson hasn’t missed many meaningful snaps during his career with the Razorbacks. But the senior — who has started 48 straight games — did have to go to the sideline after dislocating a finger on Arkansas’ final drive.
Swanson only missed two plays, though. The Arkansas training staff put the senior’s finger back in place and returned to finish the drive, prompting Bielema to refer to Swanson as a “freak show” after the game.
“It was a little painful, but I’m all right,” said Swanson, whose finger was taped up Tuesday night. “I’m a big boy. I can handle it. I was looking it and knew exactly happened, but I went off to the sideline and the trainers did a good job of taking care of it. I was only out for two plays thankfully.”
Swanson is scheduled to continue his starting streak when the Razorbacks play Mississippi State. He has started every game since the 2010 season opener.
3. Term Limits
Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long will be a member of the College Football Playoff selection committee for four years. The committee announced terms for all 13 members after holding its first meeting Washington, D.C., on Monday.
“The first-ever meeting of the College Football Playoff selection committee covered a lot of ground and we’re off to a strong start,” Long said in a statement about the meeting. “I’m very pleased with the progress we made on several issues that need to be settled, such as the criteria for selecting the four best teams, our recusal policy and several other matters. Of course, much more work remains to be done.
“It was a lively meeting with a thoughtful group of people who are truly dedicated to college football. The new playoff era is coming, and I can’t think of a better group to help usher it in.”
Long, who is the selection committee chairman for 2014, is one of five members who will serve four-year terms. He joins Tom Jernstedt, Dan Radakovich, Tyrone Willingham and Steve Wieberg through 2018.
Four others members (Mike Gould, Pat Haden, Tom Osborne and Mike Tranghese) will roll off the committee in Feb. 2016. The next four (Barry Alvarez, Oliver Luck, Archie Manning, Condoleezza Rice) will finish their terms Feb. 2017.
4. Extra Points
Arkansas DE Chris Smith was named to the midseason watch list for the Hendricks Award. Smith is one of 18 candidates for the award, which is presented annually to the nation’s top defensive end. Smith leads Arkansas and is ranked second in the SEC with 7 ½ sacks. … Arkansas long snapper Alan D’Appollonio was one of 53 players nominated for the 2013 Burlsworth Trophy on Tuesday. The trophy is named after former Razorback Brandon Burlsworth and is awarded annually to the nation’s most outstanding player who began his career as a walk-on. D’Appollonio walked on at Arkansas in 2011, but was awarded a scholarship before the 2013 season. … Kickoff for the Arkansas/Mississippi State game on Nov. 23 has been set for 11:21 a.m. The game will be televised by SEC TV.