Ragnow Turns Heads with OL Speed

Frank Ragnow thinks the chemistry is falling in place for the offensive line. Converted to guard, Ragnow has been praised by Bret Bielema for being the most consistent in fall practice.

Frank Ragnow lined up at tight end during the Texas Bowl victory. Excuse him if the starting right guard doesn't still have visions of touchdown passes dancing in his head.

Maybe that's why Ragnow and Sebastian Tretola, the returning starter at left guard, both found their way into the summer conditioning program with the tight ends.

Ragnow, sophomore from Chanhassen, Minn., asked a reporter after Monday's practice a new pass play could be designed for Tretola. Remember, it was Tretola who passed for a touchdown last fall in a trick play out of a field goal formation. Head coach Bret Bielema designed the play to gain notoriety for his offensive line.

"Can you say that to Coach B, that play?" Ragnow said. "I'd be happy to play tight end and catch a pass from Sebastian."

Ragnow said the plan this summer was to run with the tight ends during sprints.

"Sebastian is my workout partner," Ragnow said. "We've been working out together since last winter. We wanted to run with the tight ends. We kept up. Those guys are fast, both Jeremy Sprinkle and Hunter Henry. We ran their workout and we kept out.

"Generally, the linemen run to the short hash, the middle group does the far hash and the tight ends run to the other side of the field. We ran with them and we were in the middle (of the pack) a lot."

Sprinkle runs like a deer and was impressed by the two guards, but he joked that it's not a good thing for them to be dreaming about catching passes.

"Those guys can really fly for big guys," Sprinkle said. "But I don't want to put any ideas in their heads about catching passes. I love those guys, but the passes need to go to the tight ends, right?

For now, Ragnow is just happy to be on the cover of the media, something that blew him away. Bielema puts the linemen in first class on road trips and the starting offensive line was his idea for the media guide.

"There's a buzz back home," Ragnow said. "I'm getting texts from my friends about the cover. It's pretty cool.

"When Coach B was recruiting me I knew that he made the offensive line the main show. I knew that the linemen flew first class. But the cover of the media guide was not something I thought about."

Ragnow played tackle in high school, but played last year as a true freshman as the backup center, rotating with starter Mitch Smothers. He moved to right guard in the spring with solid results. Bielema has called him "the most consistent" linemen this fall. Ragnow said it's just a matter of keeping up with his mates.

"I'm surrounded by four great players," Ragnow said of the four returning starters in the O-line. "I'm just trying to follow them."

Ragnow admits the fall has been better than the spring when the move to guard had him confused at times.

"The spring was a little rough," he said. "But we are all starting to mesh. We have found some chemistry. I'm starting to see things."

Ragnow said some of the midterm arrivals in the offensive line have started to figure it out, too. He said Jalen Merrick, Josh Allen and Zach Rogers have performed well in the fall.

"Josh Allen flipped the switch today," Ragnow said. "Coach B jumped up and hugged him after one of his pulls. He had a heckuva practice. Jalen has been impressive. Zach has been phenomenal."

It was a fun end to practice Monday. Former NFL star Bobbie Williams, a 1999 UA grad, addressed the team after checking his daughter into her campus residence. Williams played 13 years in the NFL and has homes in New Jersey and Florida.

"He talked to the team and the line," Ragnow said. "He told us we have to turn on the switch every time we step on the field. We have to represent the Hogs. He also talked about how the offensive line isn't just big Hogs, but we have to work on our footwork.

"It was impressive to see him. He played a lot of years in the league."

Ragnow has been impressed with the defensive line. But he was pleased with the way the offensive line handled things on Monday. Bielema talked about needing to stay on blocks longer on Sunday at media day.

"I think we did today," Ragnow said. "We strained better. We did well in the inside run period. We focused on finishing blocks in inside run and it went really well."

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