Tuesday Grid Update, 10/22

Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said he'd take the hit for his play calling as Arkansas returned to the practice field Tuesday during a bye week.

It was scrimmage time for the younger players as Arkansas returned to the practice field Tuesday during a bye week. The Hogs will be trying to break a five-game losing streak when they return to the field in two weeks against Auburn.

Starting quarterback Brandon Allen rested his arm -- joining several other starters on the sideline -- as AJ Derby, Austin Allen and Damon Mitchell took the snaps at quarterback. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said Allen would be full go on Wednesday.

"We held out a lot of players today," Chaney said. "Brandon could have gone, but we wanted to scrimmage some of the younger guys in a developmental day."

Offensive line coach Sam Pittman said he did the same for a lot of his starters.

"You look at those two young guards, Dan Skipper and Denver Kirkland, and they needed a day off," Pittman said. "They got in a little work, but we got them out of their pretty quickly. It was good to get our center some rest. He's been playing hurt the last two weeks, but he'll be full speed in our next game."

Pittman was talking about senior Travis Swanson, who hurt his knee in the Florida game. Swanson said he was close to full speed, but appreciated the time off.

Chaney said the Hogs were in full pads despite the open date.

"We were, but it was mainly for those younger guys," Chaney said. "We wanted to get them some scrimmage time."

Chaney discussed the state of the offense, sputtering in the passing game for most of the season. He said he liked the effort in the Alabama game, but more in the run game.

"We rushed for 172 (for a net of 165) there and I've played that bunch a lot of times," Chaney said. "That's not all bad. I thought we played hard, we just didn't execute very well, mainly in the passing game.

"We had breakdowns everywhere in the pass game. If you like to play the blame game, there's enough to go around I don't like to go down that path."

But if you do, Chaney said to start with him.

"I don't even want to look at the numbers in the passing game," he said, "because I know what they are. I see them every Saturday. I know them.

"I hope to see improvement on game day quickly. I feel that everyone is disgruntled. The buck stops with me. My play calling is to blame. It always starts with me.

"Every aspect of the passing game is off. I take the hit. Every aspect of the passing game is off. Our protection was soggy at times and when we did get Brandon protected, he misses them.

"I see the tape. I see some good things, but we are lax in some things. My calls are lax. I can sure do better.

"But's a little bit of everywhere (in execution). There's a breakdown here, a breakdown there. there's a bad call there. It's a little bit of everything when it comes down to those games where you don't score any points.

"I think there's some good too in that (Alabama) game. like I told the kids when we were watching the film on Monday, you pull out 25 plays in this game and you'd like, boy, we look like a pretty good team. But the other several plays we didn't look very good. We're just not executing the way we need to at that standard to be able to compete against a team like Alabama."

There is tough evaluation going on in all aspects.

"I think so," Chaney said. "I think everybody tries to be introspective when bad things are going your way. I know from a coordinator's standpoint, you do that every week. But after we've been on a run here that we've been on, I'm doing a lot of it.

"But I've also been through enough wars to understand that I can see the good that's taking place within our offense. And also know that throwing the baby out of the bath water is not the best way to go. So we'll set there, we'll stay the course, we'll continue to try to improve things. we're smart enough to maybe manipulate some calls. Maybe I need to change some of the things that I'm doing a little bit more and that's easy enough to do. But I don't want to lose the foundation and what we're trying to get done here also."

Does a bye week allow for more creativity?

"We hope so," Chaney said. "Coach (Bielema) talked to the team a lot. And we've talked to the offensive kids a lot. We're doing everything we can to get them reinvigorated into the last four ballgames this season. And quite honestly we're not even talking that way. We're talking about Auburn.

"That's where our mindset is. Today was about the development of the young kids to hopefully give them a chance to go out and play a little bit. But continue down that path of, like I said, what we're seeing on the football field throughout the week we've just got to try to make them understand we've got to get it on the field. We've got to go out and perform better and get the execution we need on the football field."

Allen said things should improve with the open week. It will help to have everyone working in practice. There have been few practices this year going back to camp when the top quarterback has been with the top receivers.

"We need to be on the same page," Allen said. "That's the big thing. We need to be seeing the same things. They need to be seeing what I see and I need to be seeing what they see. It will help to have us all out there in practice."

Allen said the players don't feel like the season is over despite the losing streak.

"The locker room is good," he said. "We feel like we can win out and go to a bowl game. No one is quitting."

Pittman said he liked what he saw in some aspects of the Alabama game. He said effort was there.

"I don't know what it's like elsewhere, but our locker room is good," Pittman said. "The perception inside the locker room is that this team can win. We practiced that way today.

"We have good leaders on this team. Our head coach is doing a great job of leading us. We feel like we can tackle what's ahead of us.

"I thought we played extremely hard at Alabama. I thought the two young kids, Skipper and Kirkland, are becoming really good players. We'll get our center back full strength this week and I think we are going to keep working hard."

Pittman said the developmental scrimmage went well.

"Cordale Boyd is really coming along," Pittman said. "He's getting a lot better. Austin Beck had a good practice."

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