Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll.
Coaches tired of mistakes
Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, right, watches prior to a scrimmage Aug. 10, 2013 at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE - The false starts for the Arkansas football team reached a boiling point for Coach Bret Bielema during a team period early in Tuesday’s practice.
When tight end Hunter Henry flinched before the snap, bringing on a 5-yard penalty, Bielema sent the entire team on a punishment lap around the grass field and then spoke to them for a couple of minutes about how little things roll into bigger problems and how they can affect everyone on the team.
“We have to get rid of those,” offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said. “It’s a mental discipline thing we have to continue to get better. … Nonetheless, when one guy makes a mistake it hurts the entire football organization.”
Receiver Keon Hatcher said players weren’t down on Henry.
“Hunter did make a mistake, but we’re his teammates and we’re behind him,” he said. “He makes a mistake, we take his back.
We go back out there and fight for him.”
Running back Alex Collins said he was unaware of any Internet chatter over spring break about him not being happy at Arkansas and considering a transfer.
“I love it here,” Collins said. “When I came here on my official visit, that was part of what I wanted to see. I fell in love with the campus, the people, the environment. That’s really why I made my decision.”
Collins, whose rushed for 1,026 yards last year and joined Darren McFadden as the only Arkansas freshmen to top 1,000 yards in a season, said he’s put on a considerable amount of weight since the season ended.
“I haven’t lost a step, which is what I was originally worried about,” Collins said. “If it had slowed me down, then I’d have to cut it off. I feel good with it. I’m more powerful.
I’m stronger and I’ve still got breakaway speed, so I like the weight.”
When offensive tackle Brey Cook and linebacker Otha Peters tangled up briefly Tuesday, 6-10 tackle Dan Skipper waded into the issue to heat things up for a moment.
“It could have been tiddlywinks and he would have gone over there trying to fight somebody,” offensive line coach Sam Pittman said with a laugh. “It’s just kind of how he is.”
Later in the workout, Skipper and defensive end Deatrich Wise got crossways, leading Skipper to shout out a foul word and Wise to retaliate with a forearm shiver to the chin just as a period was ending.
Skipper has been in several entanglements throughout the spring.
“My brother used to beat the crap out of me, and I guess I embraced that I’m not going to put up with a whole lot,” Skipper said.
“If that’s what it takes to let people know that I’m serious, then I’ll do it. I don’t enjoy it. I don’t look to get into fights. It doesn’t do anyone any good, but I’m not going to back down.”
Skipper said his brother was bigger than him, and meaner.
“He’s one of those guys you’re happy he’s on your side of the football,” tailback Jonathan Williams said.
Quarterback Brandon Allen led the first-team offense steadily down the field during his two-minute drive against the second team defense, connecting with Keon Hatcher on a slant route inside the 10-yard line for a touchdown.
Defensive end Trey Flowers had a “sack” and batted down the final pass against Austin Allen and the second-team offense to end that unit’s two-minute drill.
Austin Allen connected with Jeremy Sprinkle for a touchdown down the seam during red zone practice.
Safety Rohan Gaines intercepted Brandon Allen during red zone work after Allen rolled to his right and threw across his body on a play-action pass.
Demetrius Wilson had the day’s best reception, a fully extended grab well down the right sideline on a deep pass from Brandon Allen.
Senior TQ Coleman met big back Kody Walker in the hole for a stop behind the line Tuesday, and the two engaged in a moment of post-play shoving.
Just a few plays later, Coleman crashed into Walker at the line again and called out, “Every time, bro.”
Defensive tackle Darius Philon stood out when the Razorbacks ran their two-minute offense late in Saturday’s practice. The sophomore from Prichard, Ala., notched two “sacks” and tipped a pass that fell incomplete.
Coach Bret Bielema said he and defensive tackle DeMarcus Hodge, listed at 6-1 and 343 pounds, need to lose some weight.
“I think he and I together need to have that as our off season objective,” Bielema said. “He’s a guy that I think is extremely powerful. He has a great presence in the run game. He’s just got to become more sudden for more plays.”
Redshirt freshman Reeve Koehler, a heralded signee last year, has work to do in order to have a shot at playing time.
Koehler has been working at guard with the third-team offense.
Coach Bret Bielema said Koehler’s injuries, which included a dislocated kneecap last fall, set back his development and that he also has to get in better shape.
“For him to play here, he’s got to play at a higher tempo,” Bielema said.
“Not just physically, but mentality-wise. He’s a great kid. He does everything we ask him to do, but for him to get on the field he’s going to have to make a tremendous jump in the off season.”
Defensive tackle Horace Arkadie is no longer on the team.
“It’s out of my hands,” Coach Bret Bielema said last Saturday. “Obviously, you take responsibility for your own actions and there’s just some things in place that I won’t be allowed to have him back on the football team.”
Arkadie, a redshirt junior from Irving, Texas, played in four games last season.
He was on the scout-team defense the previous two seasons.
Bielema said he felt terrible meeting with Arkadie to let him know he wouldn’t be on the team.
He said Arkadie “had some issues” before Bielema became the Razorbacks’ coach last year.
“He made some strides, and the final straw was a very, very sad day for me,” Bielema said. “I called him in and as much as it tore me up, he said, ‘Coach, I laid my own egg. I did my own things. I made my own decisions, and you don’t have to feel bad about it.’
“The worst part of my job - I hate losing - but to sit on a couch with a kid … when it’s you and him and you realize you’re removing him from your team and you’re going to forever change the path of his life is a very, very tough day if you care. And our coaches care.
I care. So we want to try to make the rest of his life as best as possible.”
Bielema said Arkadie is still in school and plans to finish the semester.
“We’ll support him with everything we can do,” Bielema said. “Academically and getting all the tutors, and if he wants to move on, to help him find a home beyond Arkansas.”
Sports, Pages 21 on 04/23/2014