Arkansas sophomore receiver Drew Morgan didn't even have to be asked a question Thursday afternoon before he started to talk about his Wednesday night scuffle with cornerback Carroll Washington.
It came during the Razorbacks' two-minute drill near the end of practice and Morgan (6-0, 194) – who had a team-leading 6 catches for 117 yards and two touchdowns in last Saturday's scrimmage - drew the wrath of Razorback head coach Bret Bielema.
“I'm guessing you guys want to talk about the scuffle last night,” Morgan said. “I am going to start off by saying if you haven't gotten into a fight at football practice than you are not strong and you are not showing mental toughness. I apologize for it, but it happens. It's football.
“Everybody gets hot in the middle of practice or what not. It was in a two-minute drill. We understood what was going on. But throughout practice we said a couple of words. It's football. We just went out there and competed.”
The combatants were cool with each other right after practice.
“I was like “we good, man? He said 'yeah, man, we got in a fight.' We actually didn't realize it was each other. I was like 'Carroll, my bad, man. I didn't hurt you, did I? We actually worked out together afterwards. We're teammates. We're good with each other.”
Arkansas receivers coach Michael Smith also touched on the subject when asked.
“Drew knew what he did wrong,” Smith said. “The thing about it is there are two guys out there competing in camp. We are brothers, we fight each other, but we go in the locker room and we make up and talk about it. It was a learning example for not only our position, but our team because the situation it happened in....After he settled down, he apologized to Coach (Bielema) and myself for it and we moved on.”
Morgan – who played in 10 of his team's 12 games last season but did not catch a pass - and junior Keon Hatcher are splitting the reps at flanker.
“The battle is up for grabs right now,” Morgan said. “I think Keon got a little above me right now. It's a day-to-day base fight, catching balls, running routes, being on key with the quarterbacks and what not. This past week – before the last scrimmage – I felt like I had the upper hand in that one. This week, Keon and I are still battling. There is no set in stone spot. Coach Smith said earlier on Media Day that both of us being on the same field at the same time would be a big boost for the team.”
Morgan, who chose Arkansas over Auburn, was the Landers Award Winner as the state's best high school player in 2012 after having 83 receptions for 1,122 yards and 14 touchdowns, 82 rushes for 764 yards and 19 touchdowns and 73 tackles on defense.
“It is close,” Smith said. “Keon had a good night last night. Not that Drew had a bad night, but it has been going back and forth. It's a great thing for our position, a great thing for our team to have that type of competition and they are both so supportive of each other.”
He is lauding the depth at wide receiver this season – be it at Flanker, the Slot or at Split End.
“I know the offense from last year so I have experience inside at the Z (flanker) and outside with X (split end) now,” Morgan added. “If one guy needs a break, I'll go in. But if I am playing Z, Jared (Cornelius) can go in at the Y and then and Keon can rotate with Demetrius (Wilson). We actually have got a lot of depth.”
Morgan said that Arkansas' fans will get to see more of the offense during Saturday's mock-game scrimmage than they did at the Red-White game.
“This year he is making it bigger,” Morgan said. “We are going to invite the fans, invite all the family members and whoever wants to come out. It is going to be a great game.
“Actually we are going to show a lot this weekend and the people that do come out are going to see quite a bit,” Morgan said.
One thing that Razorback fans will see is more attention to ball security with offensive coordinator Jim Chaney making a point with that.
“We come into meetings every day and Coach Chaney has this presentation put up and there is a ball inside a little box and it has a lock on it,” Morgan said. “ It says ball security and that is what we preach.”
• • •
Sophomore tailback Alex Collins (5-11, 218) agrees with Bielema that he left some 300 yards or so on the field last season when he rushed for 1,026 as a rookie.
“I ultimately want to get everything that I have missed out on,” Collins said. “That is part of like me going back and watching film to make up for the mistakes that I made. Like not taking that one key and hitting it, but take a look at everything and get a full scan of the field and try to take the best opportunity as possible.
“...It is a few plays when instead of looking inside, I saw the outside wide open and instead of going straight downhill and getting an easy four yards, I went outside and got the hard four yards. It is kind of like that mentality of instead of taking that bite of whatever I see, taking a look at all that is out there.”
Arkansas running backs coach Joel Thomas agreed with that sentiment.
“I think that's fair,” Thomas said. “I would have to go back and look at it, but there are some things where he felt comfortable and getting to the line of scrimmage and bouncing where some of the scheme was directed more downhill. With the extra reps he's gotten better at it.”
Collins is up from 204 pounds as a freshman to 218 after working with strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert.
“I still feel fresh and I am still moving around pretty quick,” Collins said. “I am not getting as tired as I used to be like before when I first got here so it feels good to just be running around and flying around out there.
“I feel more heavy going downhill and hitting those holes. I am breaking through a lot more arm tackles. It feels really good to be a little bit heavier. I was most afraid that I would slow down a step, but...I didn't slow down a bit.”
Thomas likes what he is seeing in the new Collins.
“He is a heavier runner and I don't mean that in terms that he is fat and slow,” Thomas said. “He has got a little more oomp behind him. He is hitting holes and getting in the secondary. I don't see a loss of speed at all and that's a credit to Coach Herbert this summer.”
Joel Thomas provides some instruction to tailback Alex Collins.
Competitive Morgan Showing Some Fight
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