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Defense has strong day of practice for Hogs


FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas held its seventh practice of the spring on Thursday morning and it seemed to be a good day for the defense.
Sam Pittman was at the podium for the first time this week and discussed how practice has gone after returning from spring bre
"We had Tuesday and Thursday two good practices with a lot of situations," Pittman said. "We ended today with a lengthy two-minute drill with the ones and twos.
We’re kind of beat up just a little bit at wide receiver and a little bit on the D-line. Nothing that you really need to ask me about as far as length of injuries or anything like that, but just nagging here or there where we didn’t get a chance to work our threes in that last two-minute drive. Other than that, we had a full practice. I’ve been pleased with the effort, I like the feel of the team."
Pittman was asked if he felt the defense had the better day on Thursday?
"Yeah, we put a new defensive front in, which obviously affects the back end as well," Pittman said. "Offense is still adding some plays, too. We won’t add anything coming to Saturday’s practice. We won’t have any new install. But to answer your question, I thought it was probably the opposite on Tuesday, that it was today. So I felt like the defense played extremely fast today. Some tweaks that they did with some of their line movements, some of their twist movements that I thought affected the offense a little bit today.
"But as far as the week goes, I don’t know win or lose, but I felt Tuesday the offense had a little bit better day and today I thought the defense did. They’re playing really hard. The one thing we’re not doing, we’re not having wide open guys.
"You guys are at practice, so you see that each ball has been very well contested. Obviously the lower you get down on the depth chart there might be a wide open guy here or there, but I think the foundation, the consistency of our defense is way ahead of where it was a year ago."
The usual defensive backs who draw praise such as Jaylen Braxton, safety Hudson Clark and defensive back Lorando "Snaxx" Johnson have impressed, but is anyone else emerging maybe above the rest?

"Slaughter, Doneiko Slaughter," Pittman said. "I mean, he’s as good as any of them back there. He’s a good player and he’s a really good kid. He’s done good.
"I like the two young corners, Jaden (Allen) and (Selman) Bridges. I like those two guys a lot. Ahkari Johnson has played well. Tevis Metcalf, he’s got something to him, now. He’ll knock the heck out of you. But I like those guys. Right off the top, Slaughter is a guy that’s really going to help us."
Pittman then went into more detail on the cornerback spots. Braxton obviously has one spot nailed down.
"Well, Jaheim Singletary is playing better than he has," Pittman said. "(Kee'yon) Stewart. Those two guys are kind of battling it out. Braxton. Cuddie (Marquise Robinson). That would probably be your top-4 right now. Braxton is playing well. Tuesday probably wasn’t as good of a practice as he’s had before, but he’s going to be a really really good player, and he is. Those next three guys, you’re probably looking at who is two, which Stew has had a lot of those reps. I think Jaheim and Cuddie are two guys who could start for us. They’re good players. I think we’re going to be fine at the corner position that way. We still probably need to find another safety, which we may have him on the team. We just need to keep working them."
Pittman also allowed running backs coach Kolby Smith and wide receivers coach Ronnie Fouch to meet with the media on Thursday. Smith played for Bobby Petrino and then coached under him while Fouch worked under the Arkansas offensive coordinator previously as well.
"Well, I think the first thing is it’s just like anybody that we hire on either side of the ball," Pittman said. "You would like to bring, if you can, if there’s availability on your staff, you’d like to bring somebody in that’s had some type of history with a coordinator and that was with, well, when we hired Dan (Enos). We didn’t have availability, but we hired an analyst. Obviously KB (Kendal Briles), he brought in (Jon) Cooper and on defense, (Marcus) Woodson came with (Travis) Williams.
"It’s the same thing with Bobby. He had recommended Ronnie and then once Ronnie came in and was the coach and made that he is, then Coach and several other coaches — I had six guys recommended for Coach Smith’s job and Bobby had recommended him, as well. And to be honest with you, for what we need, both of them were the best fits for us and it happened to also be that Bobby’s worked with both of them. It’s very important when you hire people that if you can hire people that somebody’s worked with — that don’t mean you always hit, but we did this time."
Arkansas will hold a scrimmage that begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday. It's open to the public.
Fans wishing to attend Saturday’s open practice can park in Lot 44 (north of the stadium) for free and enter Gate 14 on the northeast side of the stadium beginning at 8:30 a.m. Fan seating will be located on the east side of the stadium only. No concession stands will be open but outside food and drinks will be allowed.