Ryan Sorahan completed long touchdown bombs to three different wide receivers to highlight a 45-minute scrimmage in Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.
Sorahan, who completed 9 of 13 passes for 176 yards, took the bulk of the snaps as Matt Jones concentrated on wide receiver in the Hogs' first major scrimmage of spring drills on a beautiful afternoon in the Ozarks. Jones caught one of the TD tosses, beating a walkon cornerback on a long fade route.
"Ryan Sorahan threw the ball very well today," said Houston Nutt, the Hogs' head coach. "That was an obvious highlight, the way he threw the ball today. It starts off with protection and getting the ball off in a hurry. It was one, two, three and it was gone. That's what I liked about the way he threw it. And, there was a play that he picked up the blitz and hit the tight end for a first down. We haven't had much of that around here lately, and it was good to see."
Nutt agreed that Sorahan's crisp play is partly attributed to the coaching he's getting from new assistant Roy Wittke.
"I thought all of the quarterbacks looked good today," Nutt said. "I'd say (Wittke's coaching) has been good for them. Matt looked good today, too."
Jones quarterbacked the first series, then moved to wideout for the rest of the afternoon. He was two of five passing with one throw dropped. Jones caught two of the three balls thrown his way after moving to wideout. The other catch was a swing pass with him looping outside after first lining up in the backfield. Sorahan missed Jones on another deep route, just overthrowing his 6-6 target.
Sorahan's first TD pass was to George Wilson on a deep route down the sideline, a perfectly thrown tight spiral that zipped in just before the cornerback and free safety (Vickiel Vaughn) could reach the wideout. That play covered 56 yards.
Sorahan scrambled out of the pocket to find DeCori Birmingham open on a crossing route. Birmingham made the haul at the 20, then turned up field to beat John Jackson to the goal line to complete a 30-yard TD play. The Sorahan-to-Jones TD play was around 40 yards.
Jared Hicks and Tyler Meenan both had nice grabs at tight end for the Hogs as starter Jason Peters sat out with a bruise to his lower leg. Offensive tackle Shawn Andrews also sat out with a bruise to the back of his leg just above the ankle in an area trainer Dean Weber called the Achilles' area.
Both Andrews and Peters should return by Saturday's scrimmage. Nutt said both players received their injuries via a "leg whip" and neither is deemed serious. Andrews does not have an ankle sprain as first reported.
Nutt said the defense "flew around" early in the scrimmage, but seemed to tire as the day progressed. The secondary was missing cornerbacks Eddie Jackson and Batman Carroll, both concentrating on track. Tony Bua and Lerinezo Robinson did not scrimmage because of offseason surgery.
The defensive players on the field at the time of the TD passes all were required to do extended pushups by defensive coordinator Dave Wommack.
However, there were defensive highlights on the day, according to Nutt.
"I thought Brandon Holmes looked good," Nutt said. "He doesn't get blocked. He's so quick. If you get to him, he gets off the blocks in a hurry.
"Scott Davenport showed up again today. He's having a good spring. I thought Shane Collins, for his first day at end, showed up some, too. He's still learning and he'll get better. Chase Pressley and Jayson Johnson made some plays, too. That was encouraging. We need those guys to continue to come on for our defense."
Ryan Sorahan (10) lets fly in a warmup drill Wednesday.
Danny Nutt puts his running backs through a ball handling drill Wednesday.
Matt Jones barks signals as the Hogs prepare to scrimmage.
Matt Jones has a healthy beard for spring drills.
Mark Pierce prepares for heavy action.
Chase Pressley battles an offensive lineman in individual drills Wednesday as Mike Markuson shouts instruction.
Chase Pressley (left) and Gene Perry lock up in a pass rush drill with defensive line coach Tracy Rocker shouting encouragement.
Ryan Sorahan works with the offensive line early in Wednesday's workout.
Photos by Clay Henry