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Mateos Raises Standard For Razorbacks Offensive Line

Arkansas is setting bar high for offensive line, culture moving forward
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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - When Eric Mateos was hired to be Arkansas' new offensive line coach he was challenged with one simple task, fix every single aspect of the front five. It was no secret that the Razorbacks were one of the worst in college football last season in both pass protection and rushing offense.

Mateos brought in Addison Nichols (Tennessee) and Fernando Carmona (San Jose State) to go along with Keyshawn Blackstock (Michigan State) to turnaround a struggling unit. Carmona met with the media after the fourth spring practice to discuss the culture shift and expectations of being a Razorback.

"It's been amazing," Carmona said of Mateos' leadership. "The standard is here and everyday you're trying to reach it and it feels like you can't because it's just so high. That's what you want as an offensive lineman. You want someone that's going to push you to your max every single day. He does that. He brings the energy every day and I'm truly blessed to have him as my coach."

Carmona came to Arkansas as the No. 2 offensive tackle transfer for the 2024 portal cycle, per Pro Football Focus-College ranking. As a junior, the former Spartan earned a grade of 81.5 based off of 765 snaps played last season. In pass protection, he allowed only two sacks in 424 pass blocking attempts.

He signed with the Razorbacks as the No. 239 ranked transfer out of the portal this offseason. He is the No. 10 offensive tackle for the cycle, per 247sports. Going into his senior year, he'll be tasked with patching up an offensive line that allowed 47 sacks and 90+ tackles for loss in 2023. Culture in the room is said to have changed with the transition to Mateos' guidance.

"I feel that the offensive line has to be the catalyst of the offense," Carmona said. "I’m not really sure, I wasn’t here last year, but I heard it wasn’t really that way. And so this year we’ve really tried to bring the energy to practice, hustle to the ball and just be together as a group. As an offensive line you have to be the closest group on the team and people really feel that. That’s what we’re trying to do right now.”

As for looking back on last year's abysmal performance, Carmona says the group has put it behind them. The unit has pushed forward and are looking to improve and not talk about the past.

"It's kind of a flush thing," Carmona said. "It's actually funny enough that a lot of other people who are talking about it are other positions like wide receivers, all positive. 'Like man, the way y'all are talking this year and the way you're bonding together,' the way the other people kind of noticing what we're doing and how we're changing. I just think the offensive line room, we're just trying to flush it, not really think about it."

"This is a whole different group of guys. We're rolling with these guys and that's all that matters right now."


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