Jim Chaney: A Better Day

Jim Chaney called Wednesday's workout "sloppy," but the execution jumped up for the offense on Thursday as the Hogs point to Saturday's scrimmage.

Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said there were some "harsh" words in the meeting rooms Wednesday night after a "sloppy" practice. He was soaked in sweat after Thursday's workout, but smiling ear to ear.

"I liked today a lot better than yesterday," Chaney said Thursday in evaluation of the first four days of Arkansas football camp.

"We were sloppy yesterday, poor execution. We had some harsh words for them as coaches last night. Today, it was much better. I thought we responded."

Offensive line coach Sam Pittman, sitting near Chaney, acknowledged that the first day in pads wasn't as good as the second day on Thursday. But it's pretty normal.

"You go all summer practicing without pads, then we put them on Wednesday, it's probably going to change them a little bit," Pittman said. "We don't like it and we got after them.

"What happens with our guys up front is that everyone loses their leverage point. They play too high. We gave them a lot of bad marks for losing leverage last night. It's going to be better (when tape is graded) after today."

Some of that is good play by the defense and that was the case Wednesday, according to tight ends coach Barry Lunney.

"They have scholarships over there, too," Lunney said. "My guys, the tight ends, had a very difficult time with Deatrich Wise and Trey Flowers yesterday. They are strong, very good players.

"When your guys get beat on a few plays, you might look over there and say, 'Well, that guy is pretty good and that's good for our defense.' It's only going to help us on offense."

Quarterback Brandon Allen earned praise from Chaney.

"He had an interception yesterday, where he was behind on an over route," Chaney said. "So no one was great yesterday. But he was very good today. He's had only one interception in 180 to 200 balls in our first four days. I'll take that. He's been very good."

Allen said it's not coming easy with the intense play he's seeing from the defense.

"They keep getting better," he said. "You look at the press coverage on the outside, it makes it tough because they are bringing something inside and they have taken away all the easy stuff. You aren't going to get a slant with what they are playing."

Chaney said, "Yes, but there are some plays to be made. We didn't make any Wednesday on that and we were better today. You ought to make some plays."

One of them Thursday came from tight end Hunter Henry, who sparkled on a one-hand grab on the sideline.

"Hunter had a very nice one today," Allen said. "AJ Derby has made several, too, in camp. We are getting some plays from tight ends."

Chaney praised the work of both wideout Damon "Duwop" Mitchell and Derby, both who have converted from quarterbacks. Neither have taken any snaps at quarterback in the first four days.

"I think they have both embraced those positions," Chaney said. "They are happy and have a great attitude. Duwop came back with a great attitude."

The wideout drawing the most praise Thursday was sophomore Drew Morgan, the Greenwood product who has added 20 pounds on his 6-foot frame, up to 190.

"He's been the most impressive wideout so far in camp," said Michael Smith, the assistant coach with the wideouts. "He got the first team reps today. He's been consistent, knows all three positions."

Lunney, noting Morgan's entrance to the interview room, was quick to acknowledge Morgan's best trait.

"It's trust," Lunney said. "We know what he's going to do every time. He knows it all."

Morgan said he knows the competition will stay keen throughout camp. He looks forward to a Saturday scrimmage to continue to prove himself.

"It's going to be about playing your butt off and winning a job," he said. "You get to earn it on the field. I know what Saturday is about, competition. I'll be ready. I want to show what God has given me, my abilities."

And, it will be about proving everyone wrong.

"I don't think many thought I could make it here," he said. "I go out each day to prove people wrong. I'm not talking about my coaches and my teammates. They believe in me.

"I'll go home, just a few minutes down the road in Ft. Smith. I'll be out to dinner. There are people that doubt me, say I shouldn't be here, that a skinny, 6-foot white dude doesn't belong in the SEC. I think I do, but I know many don't. It's my motivation every day.

"I'm ready for this year. I think I had a good summer. Coach (Ben) Herbert got me ready. He put on muscle mass and gave me more speed. Now, it's just about going out every day and proving it."

Morgan took advantage of a drop by Keon Hatcher on Wednesday.

"Keon has had a good camp, but he dropped a TD pass when he was open deep yesterday and we didn't like that," Smith said. "We have a competitive situation and we've got a lot of guys progressing. Morgan has had a great camp.

"Really, we have a lot of guys at the wide receiver group. Keon has been our leader, but we are also getting that from Demetrius Wilson. I see the freshmen coming, that's Kendrick Edwards and JoJo Robinson. Jared Cornelius and Cody Hollister showed us what they could do in the spring and they have picked up where they left off.

"Edwards, he's a 6-6 really calm guy who can win those jump balls. He's athletic and we like him. Then, you have JoJo who is really quick, elusive. JoJo is more vocal, more energetic in the meeting room."

Chaney said, "I love Edwards. He is really smooth and the word you keep hearing, he's calm out there."

Allen said the playmaking of the wideout group has improved with the newcomers.

"You see it every day," Allen said. "And the older guys have helped coach them. They are progressing. We are way ahead of where we were last year as far as knowing what we are going to do."

The speed of the installation slowed Thursday, but Chaney said it was calculated to let the younger guys shine. He said there will be some installation Friday, but not too much to slow down the thinking for Saturday's scrimmage.

"I'll know a lot more about some of these young guys after the scrimmage," he said. "I'm not going to single out anyone until Monday. I'll tell you more then. We have about 60 percent of our install in, a lot of offense right now. Our guys know this stuff and we are going to go with that in the scrimmage."

Pittman said the line play has been building all week. He likes the retention of the playbook and sees progress from freshman Frank Ragnow, still getting all the work as the backup center behind Mitch Smothers.

"He's doing very well," Pittman said. "He's done a nice job of picking things up. I like what I see from Frank Ragnow right now."

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