State of the Hogs: In the Mail

Player analysis and features fill our 2014 Football Preview and it hit the mail Wednesday. Here are some tidbits from our June issue.

Always one of our biggest and most comprehensive, our June magazine at Hawgs Illustrated hit the mail Wednesday. It is our football preview and has fun nuggets sprinkled throughout.

Among the highlights, there's player analysis from both offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and defensive coordinator Robb Smith.

Chaney breaks down the quarterbacks, including a prediction that Rafe Peavey, the freshman who arrived at mid-term, would be a much more mature quarterback by the end of fall camp. He said that when Peavey knows the plays, he delivers the ball accurately.

That leads to the next question, how complex are the plays? Well, after studying what's on the wall in the offensive meeting room, when head coach Bret Bielema talks about his team "learning to speak Hoganeese," it's clear that it's not an easy language.

Offensively, there may be 250 terms and phrases on the white board in Chaney's meeting room that are critical to understanding the plays. It did all look like a different language.

"(A.J.) Derby hasn't played tight end in a game yet, so you don't know how it's going to go. But he's the most talented player in the (tight end) room. He's faster than Hunter and he's got great hands."
-Jim Chaney

When you watched spring practice this year, it was clear that the offense was in a different gear. It was more sophisticated, a true pro scheme, most of which was not used during the Red-White game. Chaney said that probably led to a lackluster performance mentally. He said, "They knew we weren't going to show Auburn anything."

During his breakdown of the players, Chaney admitted that he does have two meeting rooms full of players that would fit anywhere in the country. It's not hard to guess that those are running back where he's got Jonathan Williams, Alex Collins and Korliss Marshall and also tight end where he likes Hunter Henry, Jeremy Sprinkle, A. J. Derby and Alex Voelzke.

Chaney knows he'll be challenged by Bielema to utilize all of those in his multiple pro formations. He hints that Collins might be the wild card, most capable of playing in the slot or wide. Chaney said, "Buddha can do about anything you want. He might be that guy."

As for Marshall, Chaney said the sophomore has the "it" factor. That intangible is a nice pairing with 4.3 speed. Williams, the leader of that meeting room, was given extra special praise. Chaney said, "We'd be alright if we had about 25 like him."

Chaney said the tight end room got a lift when Derby switched positions from quarterback. It also helped get Peavey the extra snaps needed to expedite his development.

"Derby hasn't played tight end in a game yet, so you don't know how it's going to go," Chaney said. "But he's the most talented player in the (tight end) room. He's faster than Hunter and he's got great hands. I think he can block and he definitely knows the routes. Barry Lunney said he wished all of his tight ends had some quarterback background."

Smith spent the spring finding out his personnel's versatility, and who could play more aggressively with their hands. He's got a long list that accomplished the mission, including tackle Darius Philon, linebackers Brooks Ellis and Martrell Spaight and cornerback Carroll Washington. There is versatility with Tiquention Coleman, Deatrich Wise, Alan Turner and JaMichael Winston.

Spaight and Washington, both juco transfers in their second seasons, made big strides in their understanding of the scheme and how to play much faster.

"If there was a guy who was most improved, Martrell would be at the top of that category," Smith said. "It really started to click from a schematic standpoint. He's a fast football player who plays hard. And Carroll was like Martrell in that he really embraced what we were trying to do philosophically and had success with it."

There's more good stuff scattered throughout the magazine, including Andrew Hutchinson's feature on Sam Irwin-Hill, the Australian punter. Irwin-Hill revealed that he committed to Alabama before learning he would need a junior college degree for his academic background to convert to NCAA standards.'s Scott Kennedy began what will be a regular column in our magazine after a trip to Bentonville to rate quarteraback Kasey Ford. It didn't take long for Kennedy, based in Los Angeles as Director of Recruiting for the network, to judge Ford as a four-star ahead of his junior year with the Tigers.

Dudley Dawson, our recruiting editor, rated the top seniors-to-be in the state. Generally, he's called it his Top 33. This class is so good it grew to the Top 40.

I had fun with a feature on Trey Flowers, the senior end that will be the bell cow of the defense. Robert Flowers, his father, said Trey began in peewee football with an oversized helmet that required a fit from Alabama A&M and with instincts developed from watching "Waterboy," the Adam Sandler movie. Robert said his son tried to imitate the legendary Bobby Boucher.

That's just the tip of the iceberg in our 84-page summer magazine. To order, call our office at 800-757-6277.

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