Most of the questions for Bret Bielema on Monday concerned the injury to Jonathan Williams and the surgery that will knock the running back out for the regular season. But Arkansas coach Bret Bielema did have a scrimmage to review with the media, too.
"There were things that jump out at you," Bielema said, starting with some catches by junior college transfer Dominique Reed at wide receiver.
"He caught it well. He's exciting. And, our defensive backs had snug coverage."
There were also some things that caused some concern, including a slow start to the scrimmage for quarterback Brandon Allen. The fifth-year senior completed just 10 of 23 passes.
"The first read for BA, it didn't go like he thought and then he took a little while to get it going, but the positive is the way he played in the second half of the scrimmage," Bielema said. "Rawleigh Williams had some nice runs."
Bielema was also pleased with the backup offensive linemen and the tight end play with Hunter Henry and Jeremy Sprinkle. There were positives on defense, too. The head coach mentioned Dwayne Eugene as a pleasant surprise at strong linebacker, safety Santos Ramirez along with the defensive line.
The wide receivers did not have senior Keon Hatcher, generally Allen's security blanket. He sat out with a minor shoulder bruise. It gave coaches a chance to look at the other candidates for playing time at the position. Reed sparkled, along with Drew Morgan.
As for the problems with the passing game, Bielema said it was clear that pressures bothered Allen. He said it's typical of an early scrimmage and the decision to always keep quarterbacks untouched with a caution jersey. He also thought there could have been some issues with wide receiver coach Michael Smith missing practice Thursday and Friday after the death of his grand mother.
"There are three things with the rush," Bielema said. "It's the first time with a live rush. Also, the number one receiver was not out there. We tried to see what others can do. Drew responded. And, Michael Smith was gone until about 1 p.m. Saturday.
"I will say on the rush, when you are not live, the only thing you can do is the bull rush. You just drive your man back and it's not realistic. When you say 'live' then it is (realistic)."
Bielema said there were some position changes for the freshman after grading the tape, but did not reveal any of them. He said the media would be allowed to watch the early part of Tuesday's practice and they'd be obvious.
There were questions about the middle linebacker position. Khalia Hackett and Josh Harris are battling for that spot. He admitted one of the concerns with Hackett, a converted safety.
"He was playing safety as recently as two years ago," Bielema said. "Now he's calling the signals at mike. He's deficient in his reads on guard pulls. We are going to do that a lot for him. We put a stripe on his helmet so we can tell where his eyes are.
"Josh Harris is doing some nice things. In the back of our mind, we know we can put Brooks Ellis back there (at middle linebacker)."
With Jonathan Williams out, how will Bielema dole out the running back carries?
"We do go into game week with an idea that out of 60 or so plays, we'll divide them up 18 or 20 or maybe eight targeted routes," he said. "Everyone talks about that we have a two-headed monster at running back and it was clear in the scrimmage that we have four who are not average.
"We have a system that works methodically. We are excited about what we have in Alex Collins, Kody Walker and with Rawleigh Williams."
Bielema Pleased with Scrimmage Work
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