After battling against press coverage with hardly any wiggle room the last two years, junior wide receiver London Crawford is seeing wide open spaces this spring.
Part of that is easy to explain. The Arkansas defense is making the transition from moslty man coverage with an emphasis on press from the cornerbacks, to more zone looks in the secondary and at linebacker.
But part of that is the Bobby Petrino offensive system. The new head coach has a way of working receivers open with new routes, new plays and schemes.
"I see it," Crawford said after catching four passes for 36 yards in the scrimmage portion of Sunday practice. "I do see that we are open more.
"With the routes we are running and the things we are seeing called, it sure seems like we are open more than the last two years. I know this we are catching a lot of passes."
The Hogs caught 26 passes out of 44 called pass plays on Sunday. There were very few drops, perhaps just one legitimate drop. There were five sacks and one interception on the day.
Asked if that seemed like more caught passes in a mini scrimmage than the Hogs caught in maybe two or three scrimmages combined last spring, Crawford said, "Yes, I do think that's about right. But we are going to have that with this coaching staff. We are throwing hundreds of passes a day when you add in all of the drills and situations. We are going to have that every day here."
So how does that make a wideout feel?
"You know when you ask your mother for candy and she won't give it to you, then you go to school and she hands out candy," he said. "Like that. It's like getting candy from your teacher to come to practice and have hundreds of passes thrown.
"We are not where we want to be as a wide receiver group just yet, but we know we are going to get there with this staff. They are awesome. We are trying to follow these coaches and let them lead us. We are encouraging each other and trying to follow because they are taking us where we want to go.
"We aren't 100 percent down on our routes and we are not catching every pass, but we are getting better. We are just trying to do what these coaches show us. We know it is right.
"We are running better routes and more different routes. We are open more. We are trying to get the speed of the route down and the technique down."
Crawford was praised Sunday for his yards after the catch in the scrimmage by the head coach.
"That's one of the points our coach, Paul Petrino, emphasizes on every play," Crawford said. "So it just comes natural. You catch it, you turn and you sprint. You do that in every drill, every practice. He is running with you down the field to make sure that is how you react on a catch. So, today, it was just natural. Catch it, turn and sprint. Try to get everything you can after the catch. That's how they say big plays come. I didn't break clear on any of them today, but I did get yards after the catch. Hopefully, some of them helped get a first down.
"We are working so hard. We are seeing so many passes. We are also working hard before practice on the ball machine. I see the ball machine in my sleep at night. That's a good thing. We know we are getting the reps and it isn't going to stop. More candy.
"To make a catch, turn and have your coach sprinting right beside you is exciting. I think he's in pretty good shape, because we are getting tired and having to push through it. He's like that on every play. He's a cool dude on and off the field.
"I think we are struggling a little with all of the running. We had four straight days and we are a little tired. But we are going to get used to it. We want it. We like where we are headed.
"Every play, someone is open. Sometimes more than one. I'm telling you, these coaches know every single thing about football. You think you had a good play and they are telling you something that happened and why. It is really fun."
The number of passes isn't the only thing that changed over the winter. Crawford has a few more tattos scattered across his body, perhaps too many to count.
"I got a lot, don't know how many," he said. "I got them all over my arms, all over my back, my legs, my stomach, my chest, everywhere on my body. I really don't know how many. I added a lot this winter."
Did it hurt? Well, it is kinda like all of the routes the wideouts are running these days. It was a good hurt.
"I don't mind," he said of the pain, tatto or running. "It's all good.
"Hey, we are learning and having fun. We just try to do what Coach (Paul) Petrino tells us on each play. He says, 'Get a great get-off, run a good route, spread your fingers, look the ball in, then get yards after the catch.' That's what he's yelling to us, what he's trying to get us to do on each play. That's all you need to focus on and it's great fun."
London Crawford Excited with Offense
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