FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas held its final practice of the spring before Saturday's Red-White Game in Razorback Stadium on Thursday.
It also was the final chance to check in with defensive coordinator Chris Ash about his group after 14 practices.
Below are four highlights:
(On the growth of the defense this spring) "I’m going to tell you is this: From the first day we started through 14 practices we’ve made a ton of improvement. Now, I don’t want you to mistake that as, 'Hey we’re ready to play an SEC game,' or we’re any good. But we’ve made a lot of improvement from where we were at. Am I pleased with that? Yeah. That’s the only thing we can control right now is our improvement on a daily basis. We’ve done that. I can continue to say that’s been the case here through this last week.”
(On some of Arkansas' format for the spring game) "It’s going to be good vs. good. Ones vs. ones and twos vs. twos. A lot of people do spring games differently around the country. Some people have a different scoring system. We’re just going out to play ball. We can’t get enough of just playing regular football. From a defensive standpoint, are we at a disadvantage? Yeah, we are because the offense can score all the time. Coach (Bret Bielema) will have some things set up between quarters where we’ll have a field goal challenge. Every field goal that a kicker makes it goes on as a defensive point. So there’s a chance for us to score based on how the kickers do. So they better do good."
(On what can be gained from a spring game) "Right now, as a new staff, the biggest thing we haven’t been able to see our kids is in a situation with fans out there. It’s been closed to the public. We’re hoping for a great crowd. We’d love to have a record crowd out there with the new staff and give our kids a chance to play in front of crowd and get juiced up a little bit. But we want to see how they handle that situation. It’s one thing to go out here in the empty stadium, go in the indoor (facility) and practice. It’s a whole other when you’ve got to go out there in front of people and a lot of eyes are on you. And then you’ve got to be able to get aligned, communicate and execute the calls. We want to see how kids handle that situation.”
(On how Daunte Carr ended up at middle linebacker) "When you look at the linebackers, we had to put somebody there, you know? He happened to be the biggest one. So we put him in the middle and we let him go. You're looking at ability. We had a chance to watch these guys move around in our offseason workouts, and just from a movement standpoint, he fit what we were looking for at the mike linebacker position. He wasn't going to be an outside backer in our scheme and what we're trying to do, so he had to play mike. And of all the guys we've put in there, he's kind of risen to the top."
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau