The Red team, quarterbacked by Ryan Sorahan took advantage of solid blocking up front to win the spring game, 14-6, before a crowd of around 3,500 on a blue bird afternoon at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
The Red team put the game away after dodging a chance at losing the lead when David Carlton missed a 27-yard field goal. The Red team then rolled 80 yards for the clinching touchdown.
Both quarterbacks threw the ball well, but the Red team ran the ball in great style and that proved the difference in the game. The Red team outgained the White squad, 119 to 14, to sew up the victory in the 24-minute game (there were four six-minute quarters).
Cedric Cobbs gained 75 yards on six carries, including a 41-yarder to spark the Red team to the clinching TD. Dedrick Poole added 36 on four carries, finishing with a 15-yard TD gallop threw the middle.
Sorahan completed 5 of 8 passes for 64 yards. He threw a 26-yard TD pass to George Wilson on a bootleg on the Red's opening possession. Sorahan had one pass dropped. Both Sorahan and Jones wore orange protective jerseys and were ruled down by a single hand touch as coaches made sure that they finished spring without an injury. Both wore those orange jerseys all spring, although Jones was tackled many times when he was playing wide receiver. His orange jersey did not count when he was playing wideout.
Jones completed just 4 of 11 passes, but for 117 yards. He had two 46-yard completions to Steven Harris for the bulk of that yardage. He had four passes dropped.
Cedric Washington rotated with Jones at quarterback for the White team, and was 1 of 4 passing. He could not find his best target, Jones, in that time. The Red team rotated to Jones' side in double and triple coverage at times.
The Red team took the opening kickoff and rolled 80 yards in eight plays to take a lead it would never relinquish. Sorahan missed a wide open Hicks on a bootleg on the first play of the game, but he found Wilson on a short out pattern on a third-and-4 play, and Wilson broke free for a 26-yard play. On a third-and-2, Cobbs made 10 over the right side. Sorahan didn't miss on his next bootleg. After faking a sweep to Cobbs, he rolled right to find Wilson crossing over the middle wide open for the 24-yard TD play.
Jones took his team down the field, but the White team had to settle for a 34-yard David Carlton field goal because of some dropped balls. DeCori Birmingham dropped two passes, including a perfect strike at the goal line on third-and-14 just ahead of Carlton's field goal. Tight end Tyler Meenan also dropped a soft toss from Jones on a perfect throw on a bootleg from the 19-yard line. It ws 7-3 at 58 seconds of the first quarter.
The Reds were three and out when Sorahan was sacked and fumbled on a third-down play. The White team, with Cedric Washington handling most of the snaps, drove for two first downs before punting. Jones did have a 23-yard pass to Harris.
The Red team then tried to run out the clock, but Rhett Lashlee fumbled a snap from center and the Whites had it at the Reds 26 with five seconds left in the half.Carlton came on the field to boot a 43-yard field goal on the final play of the half to make it 7-6.
The White team got first chance to open the third quarter, but went three and out. Jones had to scramble and threw it away on a third-and-7. The Red team also went three and out as Sorahan threw it out of bounds on a third-and-20 play.
The White team made it to the 10-yard line on Jones' 46-yarder down the middle to Harris. But, then came away empty when a Justin Slaughter was stopped for no gain on a third-and-2. Carlton was then wide right on a 27-yard field goal.
The Red team then put it away with a five-play 83-yard march. Sorahan found Jared Hicks for 10 yards, but the rest was on theground Cobbs made 41 and Poole 14 on back-to-back plays to finish the drive.
Washington and Jones took turns on the final White possession, but failed on downs at midfield when Jones' fourth-and-2 pass for an open Washington was batted down at the line by Jeb Huckeba. The Red team then ran out the final two minutes with Lashlee passing to Shawn Andrews on a short tackle eligible play to finish the game. Andrews spiked the ball with a two-hand slam as the final seconds ticked away.
"I was proud of the enthusiasm," said Houston Nutt, UA head coach. "The main thing is that we didn't get anyone hurt, at least not seriously. Now, it's time to get back to school and work on academics.
"The main thing we wanted to do this spring is improve our pass protection and we made steps in that direction, but I don't think we are there yet. There are some great pass rushers in the SEC.
"We also wanted to look at some guys at new spots. I think Scott Davenport will help us in the middle of the line, and I think we see that Jeb Huckeba is going to take off at end. We saw some good things with Vickiel Vaughn and Jimarr Gallon at (free) safety, but we still aren't sure where we are going to line up everyone there.
"I thought Matt got better at quarterback. We also know what he can do at wide receiver. We are confident in Ryan, too. He's played in SEC games and if he just keeps coming. Matt threw it well and had some balls dropped.
"We had some guys not out here with track. We know that we will add Tony Ugoh, Eddie Jackson and Ahmad Carroll and we'll get some injured guys back ... Tony Bua and Jimmy Beasley. We'll need all of them to make a team. We need to keep Steven Harris and David Thompson healthy. They are going to help us, too, if they can stay healthy.
"But the main thing is to improve the protection. We can draw some pretty routes, but we have to have time to throw it."
Quarterback coach Roy Wittke was impressed with both of his quarterbacks Saturday.
"I saw Matt snap off a couple of throws today," Wittke said. "That first drive today with Matt ... I was teasing Matt ... I told him he's been holding back on me this spring. He stepped into it and stuck it in there."
The pass Wittke mentioned went for naught as it bounced off of DeCori Birmingham's hands at the goal line on a flag pattern and the White team had to settle for a field goal.
"Matt threw some deep balls to Steven Harris that were just right there, impressive balls," Wittke said. "He had some more throws that were perfect, but they were dropped. He had a good day throwing."
Wittke said Ryan Sorahan's day was impressive, too.
"He moved his team, and had the demeanor in the huddle that I like," Wittke said. "I was pleased with his demeanor in front of a crowd. You like to see what they are going to do in this atmosphere in a game situation.
"But, I'm really pleased with Matt. He threw it great. He's capable of really playing that position. He wants to play it, too. I don't think people appreciate what Matt is doing or has done this spring. I don't know if people know what he's gone through with his shoulder. I'm pleased with what he did and feel good with where he's going with his passing."
Jones said he may have held back at times this spring, on the advice from trainer Dean Weber.
"Dean told me it's spring, and not to tear up my shoulder for spring ball," Jones said. "It still hurts. But, what we've done with the rehab has helped and now I know it's going to keep getting stronger with what they've had me doing. I feel some confidence in it now. But, when you get in a game, you just go play. That's what happened today. It felt good."
Wide receiver George Wilson said, "I see the difference. Matt is much stronger in his throwing than he was at the Music City Bowl. I know what he's doing is right and he's looking good. Matt is a lot stronger."
With the way Sorahan is playing, the Hogs have two talented quarterbacks. He had the luxury of playing with what appeared to be the stronger offensive line with Shawn Andrews, Gene Perry, Kyle Roper, Jerry Reith and Caleb Perry from right to left. They made plenty of holes for the runners, especially on the right side. Cedric Cobbs and Dedric Poole, the Red tailbacks, galloped for big chunks while De'Arrius Howard and John Johnson, the White runners, had to fight to make it to the line of scrimmage.
Red 14, White 6
White 3 3 0 0 - 6
Red 7 0 0 7 - 14
Red-Wilson 24 pass from Sorahan (Balseiro kick), 2:40 1st, Drive 8-80.
White-Carlton 36 FG, 0:58 1st, Drive 7-49.
White-Carlton 43 FG, 0:00 2nd, Drive 1-0.
Red-Poole 14 run, 3:58 4th, Drive 5-83.
Ryan Sorahan fires a pass.
Houston Nutt follows the action at the spring game.
Matt Jones passes as Jayson Johnson tries to apply pressure.
Arrion Dixon (92) tries to distract kicker David Carlton late in the first half.
Caleb Miller makes a diving tackle against Kyle Dickerson.
Cedric Cobbs plows for yardage up the middle.
Dedrick Poole looks for running room up the middle.
Shawn Andrews lines up for a snap inthe spring game.
James Shibest III was ready for his first Red-White game Saturday.
George Wilson looks for running room after making a reception.
The Hog cheerleaders go through a routine at the Red-White game.
Photos by Tom Ewart