Jason Ivester

5 things to watch for in Week 2 of Arkansas' spring practice

Here are a few things HawgsDaily is keeping an eye on as Arkansas enters its second week of spring practice.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas' spring practice picks back up Tuesday afternoon.

As the Razorbacks enter their second week of spring, position battles and other storylines are starting to come into focus. However, there is plenty of work left to do.

Here are several things HawgsDaily is keeping an eye on this week, which includes practice Tuesday and Thursday as well as what will likely be the first scrimmage of the spring on Saturday:

1. The 3-4 scheme continues to develop

The transition from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense will likely continue into the fall. At this stage, the players are not only still learning the concepts, but the coaches are still trying to figure out where to play everyone. Jonathan Marshall was a nose tackle during the first week, but head coach Bret Bielema said he could be moved out to defensive end this week. Karl Roesler played defensive end, but is also capable of playing the "Hog" outside linebacker position with Michael Taylor II. Also, with Dre Greenlaw out with his foot injury and De'Jon Harris and Dwayne Eugene starting, the backup inside linebackers are Josh Harris (5-10, 239) and Grant Morgan (5-11, 220). That's not a whole lot of size. Could someone like Giovanni LaFrance or Kyrei Fisher work into those spots?

2. Running backs in pass protection

The first two days of spring practice were helmets-only, but the coaches liked what they saw from the running backs in terms of assignments. Early enrollee Maleek Williams missed only one, which is particularly impressive because he's never been asked to do more than just run the ball. Now that the team is is full pads, it will be interesting to see if he can continue to follow his assignments with contact and bodies flying around him. With Devwah Whaley, he needs to show that he is still getting better at pass protection, too. That is what kept him off the field early last season, but also what allowed him to get more reps as the season progressed.

3. Junior college wide receivers

Arkansas' coaches have been really high on junior-college transfer wide receivers Brandon Martin and Jonathan Nance. The Razorbacks lost a lot of production at the position, so they are expected to play large roles in 2017. However, most of their reps were as third-teamers last week. That is likely because they are new players and have to earn their spots in the receiver rotation, but also because they are still learning the playbook and adjusting to the speed of the SEC. Arkansas probably wants to see them take a step forward this week with those things so they can get in the rotation sooner rather than later, quicker than junior-college transfer Dominique Reed in 2015.

4. Coley controlling his aggression

There is no doubt that De'Andre Coley is a talented player, but he has always struggled to contain his aggression on the gridiron. He was ejected for targeting twice last season and was also relegated to the sidelines for a hard hit - that likely would have been targeting - during a 7-on-7 session in Saturday's practice. If he is going to maintain the starting strong safety spot ahead of Santos Ramirez, he'll need to learn how to control himself.

5. Backup quarterback battle

During the first week of spring practice, Ty Storey and Cole Kelley split snaps as the backup quarterback behind Austin Allen. Both drew praise from the coaches and there doesn't appear to be a frontrunner at the moment. They will continue to "duke it out," as offensive coordinator Dan Enos said, throughout the spring and into the fall. That said, the first scrimmage is always a great time to make a solid first impression and get a leg up in the race.


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