Tuesday Grid Update, 9/16

Brandon Allen wasn't surprised when he saw video of Dan Skipper's one-hand toss of a Texas Tech defender. He's seen it before.

Dan Skipper is the toast of social media after a video made the rounds of the giant Arkansas left tackle tossing a Texas Tech defender five yards. But there were also a little advertised moment after a long touchdown run that the sophomore Razorback isn't going to be on the Christmas lists of any opponents.

Skipper took a shot below the belt by a Tech defender as players congregated in the end zone to celebrate the 84-yard touchdown run by Alex Collins to finish off the scoring in a 49-28 Arkansas victory in Lubbock. Skipper didn't talk much about that dirty play and seemed almost as uncomfortable talking about tossing the Tech linemen.

"It was weird," Skipper said of the "vine" video of his play Tuesday as the Arkansas offensive coaches and selected players made it to the interview room after practice.

"As an offensive lineman, they say your name it's probably for something you did wrong. Usually, they are going to be talking about Alex Collins or one of our backs."

Offensive line coach Sam Pittman said it's always interesting to turn on the video after a game to check out Skipper's play all the way to the whistle. It can be almost anything.

"You ask me does he scare me sometimes, yes," Pittman said. "He's made himself a target. People are going to test him, but I think he likes it."

Skipper hopes he's not hated.

"I don't know, it is what it is," he said. "I think I'm two different people, the one on the field and the one off the field. I'm trying to be a smarter player. I get excited. I watch the tape and I see stupid things, like why did I do that?"

It's probably the reason he received the cheap shot against Tech.

"It was cheap," he said, "in my lower regions."

That produced some chuckles among the media. Quarterback Brandon Allen said there can be some chuckles during practice.

"He threw that guy at Tech, but he's thrown some guys in practice, too," Allen said. "We all have seen the Vine of him tossing the Tech guy. Around the team, none of us were surprised. It wasn't a shocker. We expect that out of him. There might be some shoving in practice and then here comes a nice toss (by Skipper). We've seen it.

"I like him a lot. He protects me. He's going to give a good shove now and then and when I saw that (video), I said, 'Oh, yeah, that's Dan.'"

Skipper downplayed that one.

"Really, Mitch (Smothers) got the guy started and I just finished it," Skipper said. "It happens that way in practice. Mitch sends them my way and I just give them a sling. That's what happened this time. Then, I tried to find something else. I want to go until the whistle. I want to go to the whistle then stop."

Asked if Skipper scares him, he said, "I think he's learned to keep it in check a little better. Last year, he got heated a lot and got caught. Now, he's going to get the other guy riled up and you saw the Tech guy want to punch him and get 15 for us."

Pittman preferred to talk about Skipper's improved technique instead of the one-hand toss.

"Some of that stuff Dan does, I don't know about," Pittman said. "He's a very aggressive young man. Someone sent me the (Vine video) and I asked Dan what he was doing. He said, 'Coach, nothing.' It's just Dan. When I saw it on tape, I thought, 'What just happened?' The guy flew 5 yards. I think it might have looked better than what it was because Mitch helped him quite a bit."

"That was Dan's best game here. His pads were lower. His splits were better. He's always played hard. That's always been his forte, but now he's playing smarter. He can fit it, lift you. He is understanding how to play."

Pittman gave Skipper an 84 percent grade.

"We think if you grade 85, that will win you SEC games," Pittman said. "Dan did a pretty good job, but he has some things he can improve."

Pittman said that was about the grade for the entire offensive line.

"As they get better, I'm a little tougher on the grades, asking more each time," he said. "A good player gets graded tougher.

"That was a fun game. We had eight play very well. Frank (Ragnow) played 26 snaps as a backup and Luke Charpentier played 35. They graded well, too. Depth is coming. I'm pleased with our center position."

Offensive guard Denver Kirkland has graded at 91, 90 and 84 and that's pretty good. I thought Denver was going to be good this year, but maybe not this good."

Pittman was pleased with Sebastian Tretola's first start.

"Sebastian was our best inside in this game," he said. "He can really move a guy from point A to B. He's going to be exceptional."

Pittman said the Hogs practiced well Tuesday.

"I think we had good intensity," he said. "We know we have our work cut out for us in Northern Illinois."

If anyone knows NIU, it's Pittman. He's had two coaching stints there, including in 1994 when Arkansas had to rally in the fourth quarter for a victory.

"I didn't realize it at first that Barry Lunney got us on the sneak to beat us," Pittman said. "I reminded Barry of that on Sunday. He remembered. I know about NIU. I know what they are about. We will have our hands full."

Allen expects to have to flex his passing arm, something that wasn't needed against Tech.

"I promise you we have practiced the pass, but we are going to see if you can stop the run first," he said. "We are confident in our passing and know that we will need it in this game more than our last. But we are going to still run it."

Wide receiver Keon Hatcher is ready.

"I know we have to make plays in the passing game," Hatcher said. "But we are going to run the ball. Jonathan Williams, Alex Collins and Korliss Marshall are going to do what they do. If they get stopped, then we will air it out."

Allen knows it will be a tough test.

"NIU is tough and smart," he said. "Obviously, we want to run it, but we won't run up and down the field against them. We'll need the pass in this game."

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