Arkansas' coaches continue to see more and more of junior college transfer Sebastian Tretola on the field because they are seeing less and less of him on the scale.
Tretola arrived at 370 pounds for Iowa Western Community College, but the offensive lineman is now down to 350 after two weeks of practice and on his way to what he hopes is 330 by the time the Razorbacks visit Auburn on August 30.
“I'd like to be 330 to 335,” Tretola said. “That's my goal weight. Hopefully I can get there before Auburn. That's only two weeks but I have lost 20. So another 20 in two weeks, that will be solid.”
It's not been easy for Tretola, who worked at both left and right guard during Monday's practice, as he is being constantly monitored by Razorback strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert.
“I give all that to Coach Herb,” Tretola said. “Definitely the best strength and nutritionist coach that I have had. He knows what to eat and when to eat it and how to control it. The other day at dinner I had a huge plate and he kind of took it from me and cut it up and split it up and said, 'Do you want to eat some of this now and save some for tomorrow?' So I really credit a lot to him.”
The menu is a little too green for Tretola, but it's working.
“As much as I hate them it's a lot of greens in the diet,” Tretola said. “A lot more greens and a lot more fruit in the morning. Just healthier stuff all round.”
Tretola got first team reps during Saturday's scrimmage because starter Denver Kirland was out with a slight head injury.
He is one of “seven or eight” offensive linemen that Arkansas offensive line coach Sam Pittman said he would play if the season started today.
“It was nice getting out there rolling with the ones,” Tretola said. “Just getting the reps with those guys double-teams and stuff. I think we pulled it out and did a nice job.”
He gives a lot of credit to Pittman.
“Just playing with a swagger,” Tretola said of the best thing he has learned from Pittman. “I am kind of a guy that when I mess up I get real angry and I get so mad I try to do too much the next play. Coach Pittman just calms everybody down and lets you know you are a football player, you have been doing this for fun, you have been doing this forever so just go out there and have fun with it.”
Pittman returns the love – now that there is less of Tretola.
“The kid can play now,” Pittman said. “He is a good player. Like I told him today I thought he was the best lineman we had on the field in today's practice. Obviously we are still searching for a spot to put him at.”
Tretola is adjusting to the man-blocking scheme at Arkansas instead of a zone one.
“It's definitely been a big change,” Tretola said. “I came from zone scheme offenses where it's not really man on man blocking and really just bullying a guy, basically. You get to get out there and run more and that's why it's good that I am lighter. I think this offense being a little bit heavier, obviously not as big as I was, but being a little bit heavier helps because when it comes down to it I have got to be able to move people.”
One thing that Tretola has learned is that Arkansas' trio of tailbacks will reward you if you block.
“I mean three of the best backs I have seen personally,” Tretola said. “Those guys are explosive, they are fast, they read the blocks. They make it a lot easier for us as far as the second level. The linebackers are a lot skinnier guys. So going out there and having to chase them is not fun. But with those guys right on your hip and letting you make that block it's a lot easier. They are great.”
• • •
Junior tailback Jonathan Williams was back on practice on Monday while fullback Kody Walker is close to returning according to running backs coach Joel Thomas.
Patrick Arinze and Walker are two of the candidates a fullback spot that has stayed wide open so far through camp.
“Actually Pat Arinze had a nice day out there,” Thomaas said. “I think Kody will be rolling pretty soon, too. We'll just keep playing it as it goes. It might be situational as we get here in the opener, I don't know. But somebody will rise up by the time we get to that first game.”
Williams, Alex Collins and Korliss Marshall are Arkansas' three tailbacks and Thomas doesn't seem to be worried about splitting up carries as much as the fans seemingly are.
“I have never known that to be an issue to be honest with you,” Thomas said. “They handle themselves pretty well. They all understand that they need each other to get through the rigors of this season. Any season in this conference - it's a physical league. They understand they need each other not necessarily to survive but to be great at the job.”
• • •
Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema said Saturday that redshirt freshman Austin Allen has been installed as the number two quarterback behind his older brother Brandon with true freshman Rafe Peavey third at this point.
“I'm glad he has confidence in me in that, but everyone's always going to keep working,” Allen said. “I've got to get better and try to make Brandon's spot and Rafe's got to get better and
try to make my spot. Everyone's always trying to get better.”
He has joked with his brother about taking his starting spot.
“He always gives me a punch or something like that,” the younger Allen said.
Austin Allen has grown from 195 pounds as a freshman to 208 this season while learning a lot more of the offensive obviously.
“I'd say just in the playbook and knowing where to go with the ball,” Allen said. “ Last year I'd get the ball and know where one guy was, and then not really know the second option or anything like that. This year I know where the check downs are and it's been a lot better for me.”
• • •
Arkansas intentionally threw passes to its younger receivers in the scrimmage on Saturday because it knows what veterans Keon Hatcher, Drew Morgan and Demetrius Wilson can do.
“We didn't want to go beat them up as we are getting close to starting our Auburn prep,” Razorback receivers coach Michael Smith said. “Just kind of took something off them a little bit. We we know where we are with those guys so it was an opportunity to give those young guys some reps and keep the scrimmage pretty clean.”
True freshmen JoJo Robinson and Kendrick Edwards have both come on in practice and shined in the scrimmage.
“I thought the younger guys, Jojo and Kendrick, who got some reps early with the twos, made some progress,” Smith said. “They had a better week and it kind of led into the scrimmage.”
Robinson had a highlight reel play on 23-yard catch and run to pay dirt.
“I told you guys he is good with the ball in his hands,” Smith said. “It's my job to get him in the right place and get him to be able to make those situations occur and he did that this last weekend and did some nice things for us.”
Brandon and Austin Allen
Tretola Seeks Steady Diet Of Playing Time
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