Chris Klenakis knows being physical isn't something that happens by pulling a switch.
"It's a mindset," the Arkansas offensive line coach told fans at the White River Razorback Club on Tuesday night in Batesville.
Klenakis said he wanted to start that mindset in the first few seconds of the first practice he was with the Hogs last spring.
"The first thing you do is tell them that the mindset is going to be set very high," Klenakis said. "You go to practice that way. You demand physical play. If it's not there, you push for it. You reward it when you get it.
"The very first drill we did that first day last spring, we got on our hands and knees and loaded our hands and hit the five-man sled. We delievered a blow. That very first day was the start. It finally caught on. It didn't happen overnight.
"At the end, it became fun. You could see our guys get to the next level, into the secondary and become head hunters."
Can you be physical in pass protection.
"Yes, you can," Klenakis said. "You have to deliver that perfect punch. When you do that, you stop the rusher.
"There are times you get freed up in protections or in run plays, and you see what they have become. They will deliver a blow. They will catch you when you aren't looking. They hunt for someone to hit.
"One of the first things Coach (Bobby) Petrino tells us with our pass protection, and I love it, there is no clock. It's not a clock counting one-two-three and on to 20. If it takes 20 seconds, that's fine.
"We don't run out of work. If there is no one there, go find someone to block. Go find work. I do think that's the way we were playing at the end of the year. We became head hunters. We found work.
"That last drive against LSU you could see all of that come together. There was physical play and it was fun for an offensive line coach to watch."
The hard work continues in the offseason as the Hogs prepare for spring drills in less than three weeks.
"We want to improve ourselves in all facets," Klenakis said. "I tell them they are going to either get better or get worse. You don't stay the same. Pick something to get better at, whether it's your strength, your condition, or maybe you get better in English class that day. But set a goal and accomplish it in some area each day.
"I think our guys understand that they need to get quicker, stronger or better in the class room. They are very goal oriented."
He sees his players reaching goals. And he sees leadership.
"I'm excited about our young leaders," he said. "We lost some leaders, but some new ones are emerging. Our two freshmen who started last year (Travis Swanson and Alvin Bailey) are stepping up. I told them after about four games last year they weren't freshmen any more. I see them as eager and stepping up as leaders. I see a hunger. I see this in our offensive line. I see ownership and that's what you have to have in the offensive line."
State of the Hogs: Get Physical
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