He told them to beware of his demands in December, then tested their will with punishing 5:30 a.m. workouts during off-season conditioning drills. Herring briefly threw the second-team defense off the field the first day of spring practice because of an unbuckled chin strap. He also introduced them to his definition of loafing by making them complete 140 up-downs Tuesday.
The first-year coach added another method of persuasion Thursday.
He thought a handful of Razorbacks would look pretty in pink.
Defensive linemen Keith Jackson, Jamaal Anderson and Michael Tate and linebackers Michael Robinson, Sam Olajubutu and Weston Dacus traded their white jerseys for pink ones on the third day of spring drills. All six sported the new look on the first day in full pads after Herring broke down practice film and discovered each had more than six loafs for the second straight day.
"That's just a way of identifying guys that we don't think are playing hard enough and fast enough at practice," Herring said. "If they have so many loafs, they get a pink shirt for the day. They've got a chance to get rid of it. They can come back the next day. The beauty of the system is you don't have to wear it long. It's your decision. If you don't like to wear a pink jersey, by God, it's your right to change it."
Each player forced to participate in the unusual fashion show got a chance to earn their white jerseys back during a physical day of full-contact drills.
Arkansas opened the workout with a rugged, 15-minute session of one-on-one hitting drills and closed it with a 25-play scrimmage.
There were a few missed tackles, other poor efforts and several mistakes on both sides of the ball, but coach Houston Nutt said Arkansas needed to hit. The Hogs hadn't donned pads since the season-ending, 43-14 loss to LSU on Nov. 26 and used Thursday's practice as a chance to knock off some rust.
"As soon as you come out here, it's collision," Nutt said. "It's not natural for two people to get down in a stance and to butt heads. It's not a natural thing to do. I really think it takes a man to play this game and that's what you appreciate. When they put on the helmet, you're looking for contenders, not the pretenders."
Arkansas strong safety Vickiel Vaughn, who steered clear of a pink jersey, said he was looking forward to the opportunity. And the senior delivered a big hit on tight end Jared Hicks during the first play of the scrimmage.
Tailback Peyton Hillis ducked his head and ran over a defensive back late in the scrimmage. Offensive linemen tangled with their defensive counterparts.
"It was fun," Vaughn said. "The next step that we look forward to in the spring is getting the full gear on and trying to get your kinks out, knocking off the rust and trying to get your feel for the game again in full pads."
Anderson, who is working with the first-team at right defensive end, said he had even more incentive Thursday. The sophomore did everything he could to ensure he didn't have to wear a pink jersey for the second straight day.
"We didn't hustle according to the coaches and that was the consequence," Anderson said. "There's nothing I can do about it but wear it and go out there and work hard. It fires you up more than embarrasses you. I was kind of pissed off the whole time in the meeting room, but pissed off wasn't going to do nothing about it."
Herring said the pink jersey idea came a couple days ago and the coaches decided to try it during Thursday's practice. He called it "phase two" of his plan to stress accountability, commitment and effort to a unit that finished near the bottom of the Southeastern Conference in 2004.
Arkansas' loaf total on Monday (140) was considerably less Tuesday (88).
But Herring called his unit a weak-tackling team after its first day in full pads and watched too many players "ducking and flinching." He's looking for "knockout punches" or else other creative measures of punishment could follow.
"We did the up-downs, now we're going to phase two," Herring said of the pink jerseys. "I don't know what to throw out next except maybe making them wear a bonnet out here with flowers. I don't know. In all seriousness, we're hoping to come out here for practice with no pink jerseys. That's our goal."
Hogs Are Pretty In Pink
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