Thursday Grid Update, 8/8

Arkansas is still working to "eliminate" turnovers four days into fall camp, but offensive coordinator Jim Chaney sees "pleasing" developments as the Razorbacks prepare to don full pads.

It's four days into fall camp and already Jim Chaney is counting turnovers. There's "more good than bad," but the Arkansas offensive coordinator will be happier when he has zero.

"It's probably no different here than anywhere else in the country," Chaney said after Thursday's practice. "We want to eliminate turnovers. We had one fumble yesterday when Nate Holmes took a hit and laid it down. He didn't have any today, so he improved his ball security.

"We had one pick yesterday and one today. We want to get that to zero. We are doing a good job there, but we want to keep improving in that department. That's an emphasis, eliminate the bad plays, the sacks and zero yardage plays."

Chaney, the quarterbacks coach, praised starter Brandon Allen "for a good day." He said the sophomore keeps improving.

"It's exciting to watch him," Chaney said. "I thought we got better as far as being physical. Yesterday we were average in that area, today it was better. All of the running backs are improving."

Asked specifically about true freshman running back Alex Collins, Chaney said, "He's a nice talent, like we thought. For the most part (all of the backs) are about like we expected. You want to reserve judgment, but he seems nice."

Chaney praised the improvement from backup quarterback A. J. Derby, calling his play through four days of camp "pleasing." He also said there were good things from true freshman quarterbacks Austin Allen and Damon "Duwop" Mitchell.

"Austin does some nice things throwing because he's had good background in that area," Chaney said. "Duwop does some good things, too, with his feet. He shows ability to throw, too. They both are talents."

Chaney is looking forward to the addition of full pads Friday after adding shells the last two days.

"I think it's a mental change and we will get physical with them starting tomorrow," he said. "The game changes. It'll be neat to see. You hope the seniors lead the young ones when that happens. You hope you see a difference between pads and shells."

Both Chaney and offensive line coach Sam Pittman have been pleased with the way added weight is carried throughout the team. He said many have noted the additions in the offensive line, but Chaney said it's the same for the defensive side of the ball and it's been some fun one-on-one battles.

"I think they can carry it fine in the offensive line," Chaney said. "But it's an adjustment. A guy like Grady Ollison has added some weight and he seems OK. He can really run, but he gets sloppy at time. He has to watch that."

Ollison said his weight has been fluctuating between 302 and 304 over the last four days, but he thinks he's going to hold the new weight.

"I have dipped to as low as 300 after practice, but it's been back each morning," he said. "So I think I'm going to keep it through camp. I can tell the difference in the power, especially in the double team blocks going against a 270-pound guy like Chris Smith. I've got more power."

Pittman said there have been some position experiments, but none worth announcing just yet in the offensive line.

"It's just been looks, just seeing how one guy might look at guard or at tackle," he said. "Nothing we are ready to go with."

Pittman said five different players have worked at center in hopes of finding a backup for Travis Swanson.

"We've looked at Luke Charpentier, Mitch Smothers, Reeve Koehler and Austin Boice (walk-on freshman) all at center behind Swanson. Once we find out the backup center, then we can start figuring out some of the other spots up front."

Pittman has also tried Koehler at guard. The other true freshman are at tackle. Denver Kirkland is on the right side and Dan Skipper on the left side.

"We repped the four freshmen a little more today, but not too many reps," Pittman said. "We want to keep them fresh in what we are doing. But they are doing a good job. All four of them -- counting Austin Boice -- are doing well.

"We haven't shuffled too much just yet. Just little experiments."

In the front, Pittman said highlights were "the way they have all picked up the offense from the spring. Both Coach Chaney and I like to move pretty fast. We install fast. Jim likes doing that. We've been pleased with the assignments. The retention is good. We've got all of our protections down."

The weight gained up front appears to be productive weight.

"I think so," Pittman said. "We wanted to get to a much bigger team as far as weight and the power and what (Ben Herbert) did with them over the summer has done that.

"I'd much rather have a team that looks like this. I think it's all good weight. We've still kept our quickness. I see that Ollison still has his quickness and I think you'd say that about all of them. We've got good quickness up front.

"I think you see good things with the leadership on offense. The top two leaders are exactly where you want them, at the spot where there is only one player. By that I mean almost the entire team you have two players. There are two tackles, two guards, two running backs, two corners, two safeties and you can keep going. But there is only one center and one quarterback and they start everything. We have great leaders there in Brandon Allen and Travis Swanson."

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