Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy, Biletnikoff Award and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt was awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year in 2000 and 2015.
ARKANSAS SPRING FOOTBALL:
Spring without Flowers
Veteran defensive end watches others sprout
Arkansas defensive end Trey Flowers runs through a drill during practice Tuesday, April 22, 2014 in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas defensive end Brandon Lewis doesn’t mind that Trey Flowers is being held out of Saturday’s Red-White game.
“We want to protect Trey,” Lewis said. “He’s like our jewel. We know Trey is going to be ready for the season, and that’s when we need him.”
Flowers, an All-SEC pick last year, decided to return to Arkansas for his senior season rather than enter the NFL Draft, and the coaching staff has held him out of scrimmages this spring as a precaution.
“We all know what Trey can do,” defensive end Deatrich Wise said. “With him sitting out, we can see what everybody else can do when we’re fresh and when we’re tired.”
WHEN 1 p.m. Saturday
WHERE Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville
TV Cox Sports Television
RADIO Razorback Sports Network. Check local listings.
Wise, Lewis and JaMichael Winston - all redshirt sophomores - have been competing to see who will win the other starting defensive end spot to replace Chris Smith, a senior last season. Redshirt freshmen Tevin Beanum and Karl Roesler also are in the mix at defensive end this spring.
“We’re very fluid and have guys moving in and out,” defensive coordinator Robb Smith said. “That thing is going to go on right through fall camp, and we’ll find the right guy to be opposite of Trey. I think we have got a good group to pick from, and that’s exciting.”
Smith and defensive line coach Rory Segrest have joined the Arkansas staff since the end of last season.
“There’s been lot of teaching going with a new line coach, new defensive coordinator, but it’s been real good,” Wise said. “Everybody’s improving and getting better.”
Wise has been working at both defensive end spots, but in recent practices has spent more time on the tight end side with Flowers on the open side. The other ends also have been flipping sides.
“We’ve basically been rolling all six of those guys, just trying to get them equal numbers of reps,” Segrest said. “We’re trying to get them all work from a developmental standpoint, but also to try to figure who can play and where they can play.”
Flowers said it will be difficult watching the Red-White game.
“I understand the reasoning behind it,” Flowers said. “I’m just looking forward to coaching the young guys and helping them get their reps.”
Flowers said he’s been impressed by the younger defensive ends.
“Obviously, I can’t play every rep,” Flowers said. “So it’s important for them to get those reps and continue to get experience so they can come out in the fall and produce.”
Wise said he’s gotten better with his hands this spring and is more explosive coming out of his stance.
“That’s going to be really detrimental to a lot of offenses,” he said.
Lewis has been slowed this spring by a knee injury that will require a cleanup procedure.
“It’s just a little swelling,” Lewis said. “Other than that, I’m good to go.”
Segrest said he has been impressed with the defensive ends’ work ethic and improvement over the course of spring practice.
“We just need to be more consistent rep in, rep out, doing the proper things,” Segrest said. “Being in the right gaps, working the right techniques.
“We’ve got hard workers, and they’re trying to do things the way we ask them to do it. Probably all of them have an opportunity to go in and compete for a starting job.”
Beanum returned to practice this week after missing some time recovering from a concussion.
“Tevin was a little bit rusty, but he’s gotten a couple more practices under his belt since then and he’s getting back to where he was,” Segrest said. “He’s got a little ways to go, but Tevin’s got some physical ability and we’re counting on him to do some good things for us.”
Lewis said the ends have done a good job in practice.
“It’s just every day us pushing each other, not letting any one of us fall off,” he said. “I think we’ve all had a great spring. We’ve been getting adjusted to what Coach Segrest wants. We pretty much know what he wants now.
“We just need to polish it up over the summer and then we’ll be ready to roll.”
Sports, Pages 19 on 04/25/2014