There are no easy days in Bret Bielema's system, but Travis Swanson said he could tell it was a bit shorter Sunday night as Arkansas got in a padded practice in between two off days on Sunday afternoon. Some of his fellow captains said they noticed a little more bounce in their legs as the Razorbacks hit game week.
"We do things a little different under Coach B, with a practice on Sunday night after games designed to get the soreness our," Swanson said. "It's a shorter practice and it's good to get out there on a Sunday night.
"We had yesterday off and it's been tapering back a little. I think (strength coach Ben Herbert) knows how to help us in recovery. I felt incredibly faster tonight. They give us the soft tissue work and get our legs back."
Fullback Kiero Small felt the same thing when he first hit the field Sunday.
"Me and Kody (Walker) were talking today in warmups that we kind of have our legs back," said Small. "But we put in some work, another day at the office."
Defensive end Chris Smith and defensive tackle Robert Thomas joined Small and Swanson in the interview room. The Hogs sent in their four captains for the Sunday interview session as they prepare for the season opener against the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns at 3 p.m. Saturday at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
Smith said the two days off aren't really off time in the grand scheme because players know they still have things to cover on their own.
"We got away yesterday, but tomorrow we'll be up here to study tape on our own," Smith said. "We will be looking at our opponent. Tomorrow may be an off day, but Coach B calls it overtime. We will be watching tape."
Swanson is a captain for the second straight season. The preseason All-SEC center said he knows a little more what to expect as captain.
"I did learn some things," he said. "But mainly I learned you learn as you go. Things happen and you learn it as the season progresses.
"I do feel blessed to be voted captain by my peers. Obviously, the whole team votes. It's not something the coaches pick. It's a big thing."
Small said he doesn't feel a need to change anything after the captain vote.
"I think all of us -- all four captains -- are already doing the things a captain does," Small said. "We are the ones that talk to the younger players and help them. So we just need to keep doing what we've been doing. It's big to get that honor. You get it from a vote of your peers, so that's exciting.
"What I'd tell the young guys right now -- some of them playing for the first time -- just focus on the little things. Let the game come to you. There will be excitement and emotion. I just will tell them to focus and pick your spots for the excitement to come out.
"What we want to happen this week is to focus on what the coaches have coached us to do. It's a certain style.
"The captains have talked about certain things. What we want to do is hold each other accountable. I know expectations are a certain way, but for us on the team, we have very high expectations. We want to hold each other to those expectations and be accountable."
Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney has mentioned several times that generally it takes a little longer for the passing game to click. He said that is mostly because of the delicate chemistry involved in pass protection. Swanson said he understands.
"I know what he means," he said. "It's hard to get the speed of the game in pass protection. We are working on that. We hope to get closer to game speed this week with fresher legs around the team. I know game speed is different, but we are on track. Assignments against every defense are a little different. It just takes time, but I think we have a majority of things down now. We are looking for that speed as we get through this week and to the game."
The Hogs have made adjustments in the depth chart over the last two weeks as several injuries shuffled assignments. Swanson said it was a blow, but that the injuries weren't that numerous. He said it was to be expected after a change in body structure over the summer.
"I think the biggest thing people need to understand is that we changed our team as far as strength and size," Swanson said. "The whole team put on a lot of weight. Now everyone is bigger and stronger. Then, the way we pound on each other, it was something we were not used to at those weights.
"So we had some injuries, but when you look at the overall camp, we came out of it relatively healthy. We didn't have too many."
Small agreed that it's a pounding style, something he's excited about. He is ready to take it to the field.
"I think it's like boiling water," Small said. "In December, it was a little bit of a boil. Then, it boiled a little more in the spring. Then, you get to camp, and it has boiled over and we are ready to play.
"We've had a camp that was very tough. But camp is meant to be tough. It's designed to bring a team together. You have three weeks that are very hard and then it creates a bond between players because you know what you've been through.
"We are at the point now that it's time to play. We are all excited. We know it's that way all across the country. It's going to be excited for Coach B and the rest of us to go through the A and play.
"We know that Louisiana has a very good football team. They play a good brand. But we are focused on our brand and we are ready to let the chips fall where they may."
Small knows there is talent behind him in the backfield. He is excited about the camp of the entire running back group, but mentioned Jonathan Williams in particular.
"I don't see no top in what Jonathan can do," Small said. "We have a good backfield and we are going to run the ball. He's put in a lot of work and I'm 100 percent certain he's going to have a very good year."
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