The birthday boy put an capper on the Saturday festivities at Reynolds Razorback Stadium with some explosive fireworks.
Sophomore tailback Korliss Marshall, who turned 20 on Saturday, ripped off 8 carries for 102 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the day – including a 57-yard dash to the end zone on the last offensive play of a 107-play scrimmage before an estimated 3,500 fans.
Marshall also had two catches for 11 yards and another score on the day as he looks to become more of a force in the Arkansas offense this season after rushing just 17 times for 146 yards and returning 19 kickoffs for 422 yards last season.
“I think Korliss – the sky is the limit for that kid,” Razorback head coach Bret Bielema said. “He really is an exciting player. I hope he understands how special he is because he really has been given some things that are not normal in this world. I really hope he understands and is going to in turn pay that back ten-fold because he has the ability to do that.”
Marshall's 57-yard burst came off right tackle after a handoff from back-up quarterback Austin Allen. He raced untouched to the end zone to the delight of his teammates and offensive coaches.
“I was kind of hoping to get Austin a few more reps there with the ones at the end but Korliss broke away,” Bielema said. “It was funny, I was in the huddle and Korliss is yelling, 'Let's run this thing all the way down the field.' I think he meant four or five plays - I don't think he meant out of the gate. But that's what he can do. He's a very explosive player.”
Starting quarterback Brandon Allen was 19-of-28 for 218 yards on the day with three touchdowns and no interceptions while tailback Alex Collins added 9 carries for 63 yards and a score.
“Two guys jump out at me, Alex and (sophomore tight end) Hunter Henry, just from a year ago to where they are this year,” Bielema said. “Those are two kids that were highly decorated high school players, highly recruited, outstanding football players that kind of arrived and really just played last year off that ability.
“It'd been eight weeks in Coach Herb's program … I think Alex had six,” Bielema said of strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert. “Alex has a lot of very, very gifted genes, genetics, but now he's been in Herb's weight room and he understand the dynamic that can add. If I can get him to go to bed at a reasonable hour an stop tweeting at 4 a.m. and eating three square meals, the sky's the limit for that kid. We're extremely gifted in the fact that we've got thee running backs.”
True freshman JoJo Robinson (3 catches, 53 yards) had a fantastic 23-yard catch and run for a TD and Jeremy Sprinkle (3 catches, 91 yards) also hauled in a scoring pass.
Collins was happy to see Marshall cap off the scrimmage in the fashion he did and was one of the players who ran to congratulate him in the end zone.
“You could just feel the excitement, all of the offense, everyone ran on the field,” Collins said afterwards. “ It’s pretty cool to see your teammates succeed out there.”
The offense had no turnovers on the day and just one penalty – a sub infraction on the third team offense - which very much pleased the head coach.
“We did play very, very clean,” Bielema said. “Again it reinforces my philosophy that if you keep it simple and guys play aggressively, let them play full throttle without having to think a lot, good things will happen and they played very, very clean today. Some guys with the ball on the ground were reserves backups that normally aren't going to be in that position.”
After the scrimmage, Bielema tabbed Austin Allen as the number two quarterback.
“I think Austin has declared himself if there was a situation - unless something dramatically changes the next two weeks - that he is our No. 2 quarterback,” Bielema said.
That leaves true freshmen Rafe Peavey as the third quarterback and a likely redshirt.
“Don't get me wrong, I am very excited about what Rafe is doing,” Bielema said. “Rafe has got a very bright future here. We really watered down the offense and just let him play and let his ability show through.”
As expected with an open scrimmage just two weeks ahead of the season opener at Auburn, the offense and defense were very both very vanilla.
“I think today, duly noted from an offensive play-calling standpoint we were kind of a spring game approach,” Bielema said. “ With the fans that were there today you never know what's going on and in today's world we've learned to keep it pretty conservative when it's opened to the public like that. So I think conservatively what we did to the offense today and have the production like that with every quarterback in there was very pleasing.”
New nose guard Taiwan Johnson got his first scrimmage work at nose guard.
“Taiwan Johnson – that was kind of head coach orchestrated. I wanted to get my four best players. Taiwan has jumped out to me since I've been here. He goes 100 miles an hour. I remember when that scheme got put in for me personally. I wasn't really good. I was good at the tilt – the cock nose we call it. I was not really good at playing square. With Taiwan I just thought that with his explosiveness – not that I was explosive – but from the point at which I understood it, that is kind of a unique deal and he really gets it.
Johnson is on the first unit along with defensive end Trey Flowers - who was also celebrating his birthday on Saturday - defensive tackle Darius Philon and several defensive ends rotating.
“I think he can be a very disruptive player at that position. We have got to get a guy behind him and (defensive tackle DeMarcus) Hodge has done a good job at the three technique. It is fun to see that thing take shape.”
True freshman safety Josh Liddell showed off his skill in the scrimmage, but also dropped a pair pf Austin Allen passes – one in which he could have run into the end zone untouched.
“I thin the fact that he was a high school quarterback helps anybody,” Bielema said. “ He's able to understand the game. It never gets big on him. He's an extremely athletic young man, but I think the part that, he plays smart, you know? He understands angles. He gets it. Like (secondary) Coach (Clay) Jennings told me, if you go through a meeting and you tell him something one time, it better be right on, because that's what he's going to try to do for you. Mom and Dad raised a great kid in that environment. I just think that we've got a very bright future with him.”
Another young star was redshirt freshman defensive end Tevin Beanum, who got extra snaps and had two sacks with first-team Deatrich Wise out due to injury.
“Tevin's exciting,” Bielema said. “Tevin's another kid with a 30-plus ACT. Very intelligent. Coming in from Forrest City, things maybe got a little big on him last year, and he took a redshirting. He is the glowing example of what a redshirt year can do in our program. Here's a kid that came in at maybe 215. And now he's a 250-pound SEC-type-looking who as a redshirt freshman I think he's going to give us a valuable role. He could be a very, very significant player here over the next three or four years.”
Junior college sophomore transfer Josh Williams got the first-team snaps with starter Brooks Ellis being held out for precautionary reasons after a knee cap injury.
“Josh is learning it,” Bielema said. “I think Josh has got really good football instincts. We even popped him in at fullback the other day. He's an extremely physical player. He's another kid that's very, very football savvy. He gets the game, he understands it, he picks up on it. I think he really likes being here. Coming out of (Fort Lauderdale's) Dillard (High School) and going to Dodge City (CC), this is the utopia of everything coming up together with the way we treat our kids. I think he needs to shed a few (pounds) too. But he can play for us.
“...I would say our three (freshmen) linebackers between Randy Ramsey, Khalia Hackett and Dwayne Eugene, those three are going to play,” Bielema added. “I think all three of them will play for us this year and help us out from line the scrimmage and special teams. But they're all three very, very gifted football players. Ramsey really was banged up all this week, so he didn't flash today like he did last week.”
The scrimmage – which happened without some 10 pleyers held out to due minor injuires - capped the second week of fall camp.
“Well, where we are, I think we played clean football today for an hour and a half,” Bielema said. “I think there's a lot of physical play out there. I think they're buying in to what we're saying.
“I kind of made this point to the ones the other day... the mistakes are the things that we have on the field are no longer physically related,” Bielema added. “They're more mental related. They're the right call, the right execution, the right key, the right reaction and that's all between the ears. I think that's a very important step in the right direction.
“We have to get more depth,” Bielema continued. “We're very delicate at certain positions. But when you're coaching a football team and you physically know what they're capable of doing, and then you begin to understand mentally what they can do and can handle, that's when you begin to see the things you believe in work. That's to me a very exciting time.
“As far as how many translating wins that comes into, I can't put a count. I know this, we were very close in a lot of ball games last year. I saw a ticker running across the other day on the SEC Network that listed our key losses on offense and defense. Obviously we lost a couple of really good players, but for the most part a lot of those positions that we're replacing, I think we hopefully got better at and that's exciting.”
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