After waking up for the second straight morning and getting over the shock of not seeing a mustache on his face for the first time since 1978, Steve Caldwell is now truly ready for a new beginning.
That new beginning is as the University of Arkansas defensive ends coach and he is looking forward to seeing what his group does in Saturday's major scrimmage.
"I just want to see them turn loose and play as much as anything," Caldwell said. "I want to them to be able to go play. I always tell them that if some reason you don't know what to do on this snap, just get your butt off the ball and go make something happen. Don't be standing around thinking.
"That's what I want to see out of them tomorrow, regardless of what the call is," Caldwell said. "I want to see them lay their ears back and running to the football and playing with unbelievable effort. That is what we are looking for."
Caldwell has three veterans to work with in Jake Bequette, Damario Ambrose and Tenarius Wright, who should be able to scrimmage after missing time with back spasms.
But he needs a few more good men to round out the rotation.
"You've got to have four and I almost say you have got to have five because you never know when one of them is going to go down," Caldwell said. "I think you have got to have five. Right now I don't think I have but three. I am challenging the rest of them every day to see who the fourth and fifth ones are going to be."
Heading into the scrimmage on Saturday, sophomore Colton Nash – who was a tight end last season – has the upper hand on redshirt freshmen Ryan Calendar and true freshmen Chris Smith and Jeremiah Jackson.
"I am trying to get Colton Nash there," Caldwell said. "Colton is a lot closer right now than he was when we started. Now he is that fourth guy."
"The fifth is between Chris, Jeremiah and Ryan Calendar to find that fifth guy," Caldwell said.
That group is no longer with true freshman LaCraig Brown, who has gone home to Louisiana and is no longer listed on the Arkansas roster.
Smith has been the highlight reel guy in practice of the younger guys.
"I am really excited about Chris' athletic ability," Caldwell said. "Of course, at this point, we have really been throwing a lot of stuff at them, trying to throw the total package at them. We will slow down next week.
"I think we will see Chris really improve after that because he is having to think a lot right now," Caldwell said. "It has to be reactionary and just second nature. Once he gets to that, boy, every once in awhile you see him come off the edge and he knows what to do and he is dynamic.
"He is going to be able to help us this year," Caldwell continued. "It is my responsibility to make sure he is ready to go."
While he definitely has the best burst off the edge, Smith is still learning.
"He has got a great motor when the ball is snapped," Caldwell said. "The thing Chris has got to do is that he has got to learn to practice a little bit better in drills and stuff. He is not used to having to go at the tempo that I really expect him to in drills. It has been an adjustment period for him, but he is starting to catch on and he is one of those kids that wants to please you."
Caldwell expects Saturday's scrimmage to be tough for the defensive ends.
"Tomorrow will be a day they will have to push because this was their 11th practice," Caldwell said. "Tomorrow you are going to have to reach down and it is going to take something special to really get what we want out of practice."
But he knows that the defense is looking forward to some hitting after being held back for the most part in camp.
"I think any time you can go scrimmage and it's full speed and you can tackle – as a defensive player that gets you pumped up," Caldwell said. "Because we have been here now, what 11 practices, and I think we have had one drill where we tackled to the ground. That was a couple of days ago and they got excited about that."
The live tackling is more for the defense than the offense in Caldwell's opinion.
"They probably do it more for us than they do for the offense," Caldwell said. "We need live tackling. You don't want the first time you walk on the field to be the first live tackling. It needs to be full speed to the ball and full speed tackling right now."
Turning It Loose
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