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.
Tailback gets back in routine
Arkansas running back Jonathan Williams runs a drill during practice on Saturday, April 12, 2014 at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas increased its focus on implementing the game plan for its Aug. 30 season opener at Auburn in Wednesday's practice and welcomed more involvement from key players.
Tailback Jonathan Williams increased his workload Wednesday as did tight end AJ Derby. Williams, who injured a hamstring early in the first scrimmage Aug. 9, began taking more work this week.
"Missed you guys," Williams said, laughing, while entering the interview room at the Fred Smith Center. "I'm feeling good, feeling like I've got fresh legs. I was able to go out there and do most of practice.
"It's just trying to ease me into it, but it's feeling real good.
Running backs coach Joel Thomas said he hadn't had Williams, Alex Collins and Korliss Marshall to work with since the first scrimmage.
"It's nice," Thomas said. "The other two obviously appreciate having everybody in there now with the way our legs are, but it's two-a-days. Everybody's tired."
Marshall was happy to see Williams more involved.
"We're actually more fresh and get a quick breather now that he can rotate all three of us instead of just two," Marshall said.
Tigers with an 'S'
Arkansas offensive coordinator talked up the Auburn defense his unit will face next Saturday, saying the Tigers are big and physical and have a solid game plan under coordinator Ellis Johnson.
"They're playing with a lot of confidence," Chaney said. "They just came off the national championship game. They've got a big 'S' on their chests down there and they're very good. And it's warranted."
Quarterback Brandon Allen said the offense benefited Wednesday from strong work by the scout team replicating the Auburn defense.
"Auburn's got a lot of different defenses, and they throw a lot of different things at you," Allen said. "I thought the look team today did a great job of showing their coverages and their blitzes.."
Just another day
Korliss Marshall said it was fun to have a 57-yard touchdown run on his 20th birthday last Saturday, but he didn't realize the date's significance until later.
"Throughout the course of camp, you're not really concerned about the days," he said. "You're waking up and just coming over here to camp. I actually forgot my birthday."
The Razorbacks have been able to cast an eye toward Auburn all summer, even though the intense repping of their game plan just began this week.
"In all honesty, we've been looking at Auburn for a long time," running backs coach Joel Thomas said. "So it doesn't really feel like a new experience. They're a great team coming off the national championship game and an SEC championship. We have to come with our A-game to make this a good game."
Quarterback Brandon Allen said he's watched film on the Auburn defense, and last year's game against it, on and off for months.
"It's been a little in and out each week, watching a little bit of film on them, watching a certain down and distance," he said. "It's about to hit hard here in a couple days, so I think we're prepared."
Arkansas receivers coach Michael Smith said he's growing more and more comfortable with freshmen Jojo Robinson and Kendrick Edwards.
"I don't know how much they'll play in the first game, but I do see them getting on the bus at least," Smith said. "We still haven't put our travel roster together, and we still have kids fighting to get on the bus."
Sophomore tight end Hunter Henry was held out the second part of last week's scrimmage and has caught three passes for 47 yards in the Saturday workouts at the stadium.
Tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr. said Monday that Henry has been a lot more active in the team's closed-door practices.
"I had a goal to be a physical, point-of-attack blocker," Henry said. "I knew going in that we wanted to make other threats on the field and we needed to establish that in our offense, and we have. We have receivers making plays for us, other tight ends, but big for me was my blocking, just being a physical point-of-attack blocker."
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Cameron Jefferson and Sebastian Tretola used to be on opposite sides of the UNLV-Nevada rivalry. Now they're Arkansas line mates and roommates.
"It's crazy how that happened," Tretola said. "I never expected to be rooming with a guy from UNLV."
Jefferson, a senior, played at UNLV the previous four seasons before transferring to Arkansas after graduating. Tretola, a fourth-year junior, was at Nevada for two seasons and played at Iowa Western Community College last year.
"We had to put our Nevada-UNLV beef behind us as soon as we met each other," Tretola said. "But it wasn't that tough. Cam's a cool dude. We jibber and jabber back and forth a little bit here and there, but it's all in fun."
Here's the catch
A new saying around the Arkansas defensive unit has been "Catch the ones they throw you," which has been shortened to CTOTTY.
Asked about freshman safety Josh Liddell's shot at grabbing two Austin Allen passes last week, coordinator Robb Smith pointed out the acronym.
"That's been a big deal for us this week," Smith said. "We're getting around balls. I like our aggressive attitude on the back end. Now we've got to finish some of those plays and they could be big things for us."
Senior safety Alan Turner said he thinks Liddell is going to develop quickly.
"Those were good breaks on the ball," Turner said. "Only thing he's got to do is just keep his eye on the ball and just catch it and it's pick six from there.
"I feel like Liddell will be a big help for the team and also in the future he's going to be a real good player. For a young guy, I feel like he's picking up on the defense real fast."
Sports on 08/21/2014