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.
Answers sought after 3-9 season
Arkansas receiver Keon Hatcher is taken down by Auburn defender Ryan White as he makes a catch inside the 5 yard line during the second quarter of a Nov. 2, 2013 game at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE - The Arkansas Razorbacks open spring football practice today with a closed workout in helmets and shorts in the first step toward the Red-White game on April 26.
The Razorbacks will don full pads for their third practice on Thursday, then take an 11-day hiatus before working out three days a week - on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays - culminating in the spring finale.The UA has listed eight practices, not counting the Red-White game, that will be open to media members.
Public access, accept for the Red-White game, has not been determined at this point, but the football program has indicated there will be days when fans will be invited to watch.
Arkansas, which is looking to bounce back from a 3-9 season that included its first 0-8 run through the SEC, returns six starters from an offense that ranked 99th nationally with 357.2 yards per game and seven starters from a defense that ranked 76th, allowing 413 yards per game.
There are still signs of change on the field as Bret Bielema enters his second season as Razorbacks coach.
The Razorbacks will have a new defensive coordinator for the fourth consecutive season as Robb Smith takes the reins from Chris Ash, who left for Ohio State.
Randy Shannon, the program’s new senior associate head coach, is the lone holdover on defense as linebackers coach. Clay Jennings will handle the defensive backs in conjunction with Smith, and Rory Segrest will coach the defensive line.
The Razorbacks have three signees who graduated high school at the semester in order to enroll early and take part in spring practice: receiver Jared Cornelius, cornerback Chris Murphy and quarterback Rafe Peavey. Junior-college transfer Cody Hollister, a fourth January enrollee, will also be taking part in spring practice.
Sports, Pages 34 on 03/16/2014