Reggie Herring has been telling everyone who has listened that he would get the attention of the Arkansas defense when spring football rolled around. He did that Tuesday after grading the film from Monday's practice.
Herring, the Hogs' new defensive coordinator, asked Houston nutt for about 20 minutes after they completed the team portion of their workout Tuesday to put the defense through a grueling set of up-and-downs. One hundred and forty to be exact! Each one represented a loafed play by a member of the defense from Monday's workout.
Herring lined up the defense across the field three deep. One by one, he'd call a squad member to the front and announce the number of plays he judged them to have loafed on the previous day. The entire team then did that many up-and-downs, chewing up the field in the process. Some had as many as 10 loafs.
"That's about how many we did after grading the first film at NC State," Herring said of the 140 up-and-downs, comparing the Hogs' loafs to those in his first practice last spring at North Carolina State.
Herring said he wasn't surprised that he found 140 loafed plays in the his first Arkansas practice. It was about what he expected.
"Kids do what you let them do," Herring said. "If you demand a certain standard, they will step to it.
"I don't know if the players were surprised it was that many or not. I think shocked might be a better word. I think they were shocked."
Middle linebacker Pierre Brown, who plays the position Herring coaches, was shocked.
"Evidently, I didn't understand the meaning of a loaf," Brown said, shaking his head. "I guess I wasn't going full speed. I had a bunch. I know now you go all-out until the whistle. If you don't give your all until the whistle, Coach Herring will put you down for a loaf.
"We did 140? Man, I knew it was a bunch, more than I ever have done before in my life. Whewwww! I knew it was up there, but I didn't know it was 140.
"Let me say right here that I bet we don't ever have that many again. Tomorrow should be better. We're going to eliminate that word from our vocabulary. I don't ever want to do that many again.
"It was hard, but I didn't think of it as punnishment. I think it was all on us. We did it yesterday. The film doesn't lie. We'll get better."
Herring knows it will get better, too. He wasn't upset as he talked about his method of sending the message about what he expected along the lines of effort.
"It'll come with this bunch," he said. "We have enough character. We have what it takes. But it's going to be baby steps. You won't see it all take shape until sometime at the end of August. It'll take that long. It's all about taking baby steps right now.
"I saw a little good in the film, but a lot of bad. From not playing hard, to not carrying out assignments and to discipline. I saw a lot of that. The purest part is effort. I saw a tremendous amount of loafs. They don't understand yet what makes up a loaf. That's the biggest thing. It's a lack of tempo.
"It takes forever to (change it). It will be ongoing until we get into the season. Until we play a game, they won't understand. But we will eliminate the loafs until we play a game and we have 22 guys that only have no more than 10 loafs. It will be a way of life."
Among the good things that came out on film was the play of converted defensive end Desmond Sims, singled out for praise by head coach Houston Nutt.
"He played hard," Nutt said. "He really did."
Herring echoed Nutt's praise.
"He has one intangible; he doesn't loaf," Herring said of Sims. "He plays fast. He seems to enjoy the game. He played faster than everyone else. He's small. He'll have to get bigger. But he gave great effort and has a tremendous attitude. He still has to learn the position, but he's got a chance to be good."
Nutt was pleased with the practice, noting the three quarterbacks improved their passing on the spring's second day.
"We had a good, long practice," Nutt said. "We tried to teach intensity, focus and the speed of the game.
"But we had too many procedure penalties on offense and we also had two fumbled snaps. We can't have those.
"The defense, from watching the film, is a long ways away, but you can see some good things. Desmond Sims stood out. He played hard. Sometimes guys think they are playing hard, but that's not full full speed.
"There are some real positives, but the bottom line is we have to get a lot better."
The Hogs were missing three players Monday because of travel problems coming back from spring break. Kyle Roper and Randy Kelly made it back on morning flights from Atlanta in time for Tuesday's workout, but Michael Grant didn't make it back in time for the workout. He stepped onto the field just as the workout ended.
"We'll have them all (on Thursday)," Nutt said, noting that the Hogs will take Wednesday off for labs.
Practice was closed again Tuesday, except for the first 15 minutes. There did not appear to be any major injuries. The Hogs will don full pads on Thursday when Nutt has promised a small scrimmage at the end of the workout.
Herring Sends Message
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