We’ll find out this year with Arkansas if players can make enough dramatic improvements from one year to the next to make a difference.
Sam Pittman is talking positive about this team making off-season improvements, but even he acknowledged Monday that’s kinda normal.
“Everybody says they’ve had a good off-season, but we have,” he said.
He does have a lot of returning starters coming back from a team that was 3-7. Considering the covid issues, you can try to translate that to a normal year any way you want.
The hope for Razorback fans is that Bear Bryant was wrong in 1971 before the season when it was pointed out to him he didn’t have a lot of starters coming back from back-to-back 6-5 teams.
“Worst damn thing in the world is to have a bunch of guys coming back from a bad team,” he grumbled.
The Hogs have a bunch of guys returning, but the most important player from last year had a pro day for NFL scouts earlier this week and Feleipe Franks will get a shot to be playing on Sundays.
He won’t be back and that’s the biggest question mark.
KJ Jefferson has the job right now and, apparently, he’s going to have to lose it. In the 50 minutes or so the media got to watch practice Thursday he was inconsistent, to be polite.
It’s clear he’s got the arm strength to throw the ball through a brick wall but the question is, well, which wall was he aiming for? Especially on deep passes (at one point he overthrew four fade routes … 40 yards downfield).
He’s good running the ball and better throwing on the run, but in the SEC sooner or later you’ve got to hit the deep passes or you’re going to have a problem.
Against Missouri in his only start, he threw enough that he finally hit a deep one to Treylon Burks.
It’s spring and it’s early, though. There are no warning bells … yet. Way too early for that based on a very limited number of displays.
What Jefferson has is teammates and coaches pulling for him.
“He’s getting better every day and our timing is getting better every day,” wide receiver Mike Woods said Thursday after practice.
Things are also different off the field, too.
“He’s being a lot more vocal,” Woods said. “We have a lot more communication with him. Even when we come off the field and shoot him a text, or whatever, we just have a lot more communication between him and the receivers.”
Pittman made it clear Monday that Jefferson is No. 1. The media hasn’t had Jefferson for interviews since he’s been here, but we were told Thursday after Zooms with Woods and linebacker Bumper Pool that was coming soon.
The guy that is the most intriguing at quarterback is Malik Hornsby, who threw a nice, deep fade pass on the money to John David White.
That is a tough route that requires arm strength, touch and accuracy because the only way to describe it is take a trash can 40 yards away and try to drop the ball into it.
“Malik looks great,” Woods said. “We all know he’s a speedster. He’s got a rocket for an arm. It will be a great battle this season.”
All of which is why you have to wonder if Jefferson being named No. 1 right now is as much trying to boost his confidence as anything else.
The guess is there’s a lot of time before the season kicks off.
And Jefferson still has to earn the job.