DKW 86 6,394 Posted August 20, 2006 Share Posted August 20, 2006 http://www.arsnonline.com/modules.php?op=m...le&sid=3132 Sports: Razorbacks adjusting to Malzahn's offenseon Wednesday, August 09, 2006 - 06:02 AM Fayetteville - Gus Malzahn's new team is figuring out how to run his offense. The most important things to remember? Think fast -- and you better be in shape. "Now we know what to expect as far as no-huddle," guard Stephen Parker said, speaking for the entire offensive line. "Spring was kind of a shock to us." Malzahn was hired as Arkansas' offensive coordinator in December after an outstanding coaching run at three Arkansas high schools. Last year, his Springdale team went 14-0 and won the Class AAAAA title, outscoring its opponents 664-118 with a devastating spread offense. Now, Malzahn is with an Arkansas team that averaged only 143.7 yards passing per game in 2005. The Razorbacks went 4-7, their second straight losing record. "Anything that's new takes time," Malzahn said Monday at media day. "Here's the good thing. We can tell such a huge difference from the spring to here, even though we're still rotating a lot of guys." Arkansas coaches are trying to choose a starting quarterback and figure out which of the team's many freshman receivers are good enough to make an immediate impact. The Razorbacks are also adjusting to the loss of Darren McFadden, who is doubtful for their season opener against Southern California on Sept. 2 because of a dislocated toe. But although the depth chart isn't set, the Razorbacks are growing more accustomed to the no-huddle offense Malzahn loves to run. Freshman receiver Andrew Norman, who played for Malzahn at Springdale, says moving quickly between plays is crucial. "With the no-huddle, obviously you've got to think quick on your feet. That's probably the hardest thing, just getting ready with that pace," he said. "Once you get it down, you pretty much know it. Once you get going, it clicks real quick." Norman is part of a quartet of Arkansas freshmen who starred at Springdale last year. Quarterback Mitch Mustain, receiver Damian Williams and tight end Ben Cleveland also played for the Bulldogs under Malzahn. That could ease their transition to the Razorbacks, but Malzahn knows this is a new level. "I think there's some things that they are very familiar with that could give them an advantage, but at the same time, you've got to prove it on the field, and they understand that," Malzahn said. "This is different. This is different than high school." The Springdale freshmen aren't the only ones having to adjust, of course. No offense can work without good blocking, and although Arkansas' offensive line lost only one starter from 2005, the transition to Malzahn's offense has been physically demanding. "No-huddle is designed to tire the defense out," center Jonathan Luigs said. "You get their defensive coordinator working at a faster speed than they're used to." That won't work if the offense tires first, so the linemen did extra conditioning work in the offseason. Now, Arkansas needs to decide who will throw behind them. Mustain, one of the nation's most sought-after recruits, will compete with Casey Dick and Robert Johnson for the starting job at quarterback. Coaches are clearly antsy to settle on a starter at that position. Head coach Houston Nutt said he hopes to name one in the next 1Ã‚Â½ weeks. "I think there's a lot of different variables that go into that," Malzahn said. "Until you get in pads and get in scrimmage situations, it's hard to really have all the answers." Although Malzahn's teams have produced gaudy passing statistics in the past, he's promised not to ignore the running game. McFadden rushed for 1,113 yards and fellow freshman Felix Jones added 626 last season. Even after McFadden's injury, the Razorbacks still have tremendous depth at running back. In addition to Jones, they also have Peyton Hillis, a threat on the ground and as a receiver. Hillis led the team with 38 catches in 2005 -- and he's optimistic about Malzahn's arrival. "What makes you really feel comfortable about it is that he's so confident about it," Hillis said. "That's what kind of guy we need. We need a guy with confidence." Arkansas' use of the No-Huddle could actually benefit Auburn. Their might be players that do not want to run a No-Huddle that end up going to another school instead of . Maybe we benefit by opicking up a player or two? Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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