Arkansas’ Spring Game Notebook, Defense Shines Led by Sosa Agim

By Otis Kirk

Arkansas’ Red team which was the defense won Saturday’s spring game 39-33 using a scoring system designed by Chad Morris.

The defense was led by senior defensive tackle McTelvin Agim who had one pass breakup and two quarterback hurries on the day. Agim talked about the defense’s day following the game

“First half I think we finished pretty good,” Agim said. “It felt like we kind of got lax in the middle of it and we kind of gave away a couple of plays but overall, especially the first half I think we definitely finished how we wanted to finish.”

Morris was impressed with Agim not just on Saturday, but the entire spring.

“I think you saw Sosa and how active he’s been,” Morris said. “I think that’s been good to see. I think he’s had a tremendous spring. I think he’s had a very consistent spring and that’s one of the things that we talked about. ‘Look, you’ve been here a good while and it’s time now that you’ve taken the approach that you’ve chosen to come back.’

“By coming back he understood that we were going to move him inside and he has completely 100 percent bought in on that. So, with that, we’ve challenged him for consistent play and he’s shown that all spring long.”

Agim had said earlier in the week he didn’t know how much he would play and hoped to help coach some. He talked about how much he actually played.

“I honestly don’t know how many snaps I played,” Agim said. “It definitely felt good to get out there though. And once it was time actually for me to shut it down it was kind of hard to do that. I actually wanted to keep going. It’s that competitive edge. You can say you want to coach and things like that  but it’s hard when you actually settle down.”

Agim talked Thursday about telling true freshman cornerback Devin Bush what to expect from his first spring game. Bush had a pick-6 off John Stephen Jones on Saturday and Agim talked about that.

“I don’t know if you guys remember but that’s the kid I was talking to about being excited to play in his first spring game,” Agim said. “It was just good to see him out there making plays and flying around making tackles and things like that. It was just good to see that. When he came to the sideline you could see the excitement on his face. It kinda gave me my years back because I remember how it was like my first year.”

Count offensive lineman Noah Gatlin among those impressed by Agim. Gatlin was asked by a reporter what Agim does that causes so many problems for an offense?

“What does Sosa not do is a better question,” Gatlin said. “He is hard to block and now he is so big and athletic that he can really do anything, especially in the pass game. He is something else in the pass game. If you leave him one-on-one, he is hard to block. 

“I am just trying to make my game better, our game better as we go against him and learn from him and what he does. He is one of the great players and has a big future ahead of him. It is fun.”

Ben Hicks’ Day

Senior quarterback Ben Hicks finished the game 8-18 for 100 yards and a 45-yard touchdown to Trey Knox. 

Hicks talked about the throw and catch that led to the touchdown by Knox.

“Yeah I mean, I think Trey had a good day,” Hicks said. “He had a few catches. Played well. He’s just gotta continue to grow, continue to mature and put some weight on, and be physical with press coverage I think is the biggest thing for him. As far as Trey, just continuing to mature and put on weight is the biggest thing for him.”

The offense and Hicks started particularly slow, but did pick it up as the game went along. 

“Yeah, slow start obviously,” Hicks said. “We’ve been seeing each other all spring. We know what they’re gonna run; they know what we’re gonna run. Sometimes it’s just one of those days. At the beginning we couldn’t really get anything going. Just kept fighting, taking it one play at a time. We were able to score right before half and I think that was big.

“Tip your cap to our defense. Our defense is pretty good. They’ve got a lot of experience on that side of the ball and they’re a good defense and they’ve got a good coach on that side. It’s been huge for us to go against them every single day. I think it’s made us a lot better and we’ll be better because of it in the fall. At some point, you’ve gotta tip your cap to the defense.”

Big Names Missing on Offense

Morris talked about some big names on offense who didn’t play on Saturday and will help the team in the fall.

“When you take Rakeem Boyd out of our offense,” Morris said. “He finished top 5 in the SEC this year in rushing and total yards. I think when you get him back it adds another dimension, it provides depth and it allows the other guys to have a little bit more fresher legs because you’re able to have a 3-4 back rotation. I think that’s a big plus.

“I think we know the impact C.J. O’Grady has on our football team. He was one of our top guys and was No. 2 in receptions and yards and touchdowns. When you take a guy like that off the field it provides opportunities for others to step up. I think Chase Hayden has taken and maximized that opportunity, which is good because we’re trying to develop depth. That’s what spring is for. I think we’ve achieved that, and I’m excited to get everybody back when we start fall camp.”