State of the Hogs: What to Watch?

Here are a few things Hawgs Illustrated publisher Clay Henry wants to check out as the Arkansas football team hits the practice field for the opening day of fall camp. Does Bret Bielema's third team look like an SEC squad?

It's hours before the first practice. I could make a list of the questions that need to be answered in fall camp, but they aren't going to be tackled in the first day. They won't even tackle today since the first few days are in shorts and no pads.

I'm going to see 20 minutes of actual practice Thursday afternoon, along with the stretching and warmup. There won't be much time. So I better have a plan of what I want to see.

I want to lay my eyes on Dominque Reed, the junior college wide receiver with big-time speed. I want to see his gait, how he moves. It won't take but a few seconds to know if he has the after burners.

Next, I want to find Blake Johnson, the new punter. Hopefully, he's hitting a few punts early and I can assess his leg.

Then, I'll just eye the new linebackers. What do Kenderick Jackson, Derrick Graham and Dre Greenlaw look like on the hoof? I know that's going to be fun.

Then, I'll check out the returning linemen. Are they slim? What did Ben Herbert, the strength guru, do to them over the summer?

I'm especially interested in what a summer with Herbert has done with junior college transfer Jeremiah Ledbetter. He looked like an end last spring as far as size. But I wondered if Herbert could add enough pounds to make it easy for Ledbetter to slide inside on third downs and still take on an SEC guard, generally bigger.

And, then, I'll find the quarterbacks. From Brandon Allen to Ty Storey, how do they hum the ball?

All of that will take about 10 minutes. There will be another 10 minutes or so to just assess the squad. Does it look like an SEC group? I expect so. I know that head coach Bret Bielema thinks that's what he has, or he wouldn't be dropping a few double day practice chances. He knows what he's got and it's pretty good.

I probably haven't looked forward to a season as much as 2015 in a long time. Maybe taking some lumps over the last three years has done that to me, but I think I'm a little like a lot of Arkansas fans. It's time for some pay back.

It appears most around the country think the Hogs are capable of that. More and more, I hear the national pundits and oddsmakers stick Arkansas into the talking points. They think this is an Arkansas team capable of doing damage and every now and then you hear them mention Arkansas as possible SEC West champs.

I heard one Las Vegas smart man mention Arkansas as a team that could make a real run. He didn't predict it, but it sounded like he wouldn't be surprised. Tim Brando of Fox said the Hogs are going to win nine games. That's heady stuff for a team that has yet to win on the road in SEC play under Bielema.

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