Two-Minute Drill: Gragg Maximizing Limited Receiving Opportunities

by Chris Bahn  on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2010 8:18 pm  

Chris Gragg isn't getting many opportunities to catch the ball, but when he does? You can count on a big play happening. Gragg, a redshirt sophomore, ranks just eighth on the team with seven total catches as he works behind Mackey Award semifinalist D.J. Williams. His yards-per-catch average of 22.1 leads the team, however. (Photo by Mark Wagner)

This story is from the archives of ArkansasSports360.com.

FAYETTEVILLE — Chris Gragg isn’t getting many opportunities to catch the ball. But when he does? You can count on a big play happening.

Gragg, a redshirt sophomore, ranks just eighth on the team with seven total catches as he works behind Mackey Award semifinalist D.J. Williams. His yards-per-catch average of 22.1 leads the team, however.

“I know I have an All-American tight end in front of me, but [I] just go out there and make the play when my number is called,” Gragg said. “It just happens to be long catches.”

Gragg, 6-3, 236, has shown good hands and deceptive speed. He’s still learning other parts of the tight end/H-back position after playing wide receiver in high school.

Saturday, Gragg had four catches for 44 yards and a touchdown. His performance actually pulled his average down. Prior to the UTEP game, he was averaging 37.0 yards per catch.

Gragg, who sat out last year with a dislocated ankle, is proof the tight end position will be in good hands with the departure of seniors D.J. Williams and Ben Cleveland. Coaches also like redshirt freshman Austin Tate and true freshman Garrett Uekman.

“I feel good about those guys,” offensive coordinator Garrick McGee said. “They’re all big. They’re all bigger than the average freshman or sophomore tight end. They’re already big. We’ve just got to get them in the weight room and get them strong.”

Extra Work
Arkansas’ improved running hasn’t just happened by accident. Offensive tackle DeMarcus Love said the offense has upped its team run reps by about 15 in recent practices.

The result? A season-high 336 yards against UTEP. Arkansas has run for 811 yards the last four weeks, nearly 55 percent of the season rushing total.

“We took it upon ourselves to emphasize the running game,” Love said. “We get more run reps in practice now. … It’s starting to pay off.”

No Complaints
Knile Davis has seen his workload increase considerably at tailback the last few weeks. He’s averaged 18.5 carries per game, up nearly seven per game on his season average.

Davis’ total carries the first four weeks (20) don’t match his single-game high (22). Davis had had 22 carries twice in the last four week.

How is his body holding up? Is the extra load wearing his body down? He’s just fine.

“You are going to be a little banged up whether you have got six carries or 22 carries,” Davis said. “Carries are a good thing.” 

Speaking Out
Coach Petrino put it in every player to be the best at what you do at your position [nationally] and being nominated for that award is showing that. It’s something I’m proud to be a part of and I’m very humble about it as well. People that are up for it are talented players. I’m blessed to be in the conversation with those guys."
—Tight end D.J. Williams on being named a Mackey Award semifinalist

 

 

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