First Day in Pads Mostly About the Run Game in Arkansas' Third Spring Workout

Kody Walker and Damon "Duwop" Mitchell sparkled in the running game, but one of the most interesting aspects of Arkansas' first day in full pads was Jeremiah Ledbetter going against Hjalte Froholdt.

Bret Bielema reminded reporters just after Saturday's practice -- the first this spring in full pads -- that it was just as he'd advertised, real boring.

The translation, it was all first-and-10 situational in the 58 snaps, 24 with each the first and second teams. And, there was very little focus on the passing game.

"Any one who watched, I wanted it to boring," Bielema said.

The Arkansas head coach had warned in advance that it would be boring.

"I just wanted it to be good, solid football," Bielema said. "We focused on some running game plays."

There were some highlights with running backs Kody Walker and Damon "Duwop" Mitchell both ripping off long runs in the short scrimmage. There was also an interception by linebacker Randy Ramsey (on a Rafe Peavey throw) in the pass skeleton drill before the scrimmage.

There were three fumbled snaps in the scrimmage, two by Ricky Town one by Ty Storey.

Bielema said the first three days of spring drills have featured plenty of opportunities for Town and Storey, along with the top two quarterbacks, Austin Allen and Peavey. But Allen and Peavey, clearly the leaders, will get more of the reps going forward.

Bielema said the work in the first week was basic for the quarterbacks, mostly things the two redshirt freshmen, Town and Storey, could handle. But it'll get more complex going forward. Bielema said offensive coordinator Dan Enos has kept it simple so far.

"As we get more deeper into the playbook, there are going to be things they can't handle," Bielema said. "Dan and I wanted to give them ample opportunity this first week. We didn't want them to be paralyzed.

"The work wasn't perfectly balanced this week, but four did get quite a lot."

Bielema said that's tough to do and it was clear in the first two weeks that Allen and Peavey were more advanced. Allen has shown the ability to throw the deep ball this week, although there was only one bomb in Saturday's work. Allen just missed Dominique Reed on a sideline route, although Henre' Toliver had good coverage.

"Austin has done pretty well with the deep ball," Bielema said. "He's thrown pretty good deep balls. All the kids will tell you that he's the best we've had there over the last two years."

There were no touchdowns Saturday, but there was also no goal line work. The third down passing game has not been installed yet. All of that will come next week, starting Monday.

The running game featured some nice lanes for cutback moves by the running backs. And, there were plays on the perimeter for both Walker and Mitchell. Bielema said the cutback lanes were sometimes by design, but also because defensive tackle Jeremiah Ledbetter was getting penetration.

"If your three technique is getting penetration, you are going to have to go to the cutback," he said. "I will say that we have some new plays that Kurt Anderson has brought."

One of those was Mitchell's 32-yard scamper on the zone play. Mitchell got the better end of the tackle, too, delivering a blow to Santos Ramirez. Anderson is the new offensive line coach.

"The play Kurt put in, I liked it," he said. "We've got some new plays."

One of the most interesting battles of the day featured Ledbetter against left guard Hjalte Froholdt. Ledbetter moved to the other side at times, but was opposite Froholdt most. Ledbetter had two sacks to lead the defense.

"Hjalte has really impressed," Bielema said. "He's going against Led a lot of the time. That's a tough matchup.

"Led has looked good all week. We wanted to get him to that three technique that Darius (Philon) played two years ago. We wanted an explosive man there who could get some penetration."

Rawleigh Williams took some snaps at running back in the inside run drill to start the practice, but was not in the scrimmage work. He did not take contact to the ground in the inside run.

"Rawleigh has done really well," Bielema said. "Kody Walker is more explosive after dropping some pounds. Juan Day has looked good. We just need to see a little more hip shake from him."

The first three days have been relatively injury free. Keon Hatcher, coming back from a broken foot, practiced some early Saturday, but did not scrimmage. Bielema said Taiwan Johnson and Froholdt have battled through minor injuries.

"We didn't put Taiwan out there," he said. "We've seen enough of him. Hjalte had a little bit of a groin injury the last two practices, but he fought through it."

Froholdt is making the move from the defensive line. He did play some tight end in high school in Denmark, but never in the interior of the offensive line.

"It's going well," Bielema said. "He lined up six inches from the center the first day. But that one time is the only time he got the splits wrong."

Cole Hedlund hit all of his four field goals in the early portion of the practice. Bielema said he remains perfect for the spring.

A major emphasis in the first week has been a revamped protection system as installed by Anderson in the offensive front.

"We changed the protection," Bielema said. "We had some dysfunction there last year.

"Kurt changed it. He changed alignment, stance and technique and we also changed the way the ball is put in play. It will be a big benefit."

The Hogs opened Saturday with an offensive line that featured Frank Ragnow at center, Jalen Merrick and Froholdt at guards and with Brian Wallace at left tackle and Dan Skipper at right tackle.

Ragnow also played guard briefly Saturday with Zach Rogers at center. Rogers played some guard, too.

The second line consisted of Johnny Gibson and Colton Jackson at tackle, Deion Malone and Jackson Hannah at guards and Zach Rogers at center. Jackson got some work at left tackle with the ones and Rogers played some at guard with the ones.

Allen completed three of six passes. Peavey was four of six, although some counted one of his completions as a sack. Storey was one of 3, Town 1 of 2. There were no interceptions in the scrimmage portion of the practice.

Bielema said some of the "cloudy" issues with quarterback play on Saturday were due to protection problems.

As for the fumbled snaps, Bielema attributed to early exits by the young quarterbacks.

"Sometimes they just get rattled and leave too quick," Bielema said.

Of the center play, Bielema said the thoughts of working Froholdt there are gone. Bielema said, "Center is not his game. He'll be a left guard or a right guard."

Bielema praised senior defensive end Deatrich Wise, with one sack on the day.

"Deatrich has been very good," he said. "That's a good matchup every day, Wise and Dan Skipper. That's only going to help us."

Bielema likes what he's seen of the secondary with new assistant Paul Rhoads.

"Our back end, we've gotten hands on balls," Rhoads said. "I give credit to Paul for changing some of our footwork."

Newcomer McTelvin "Sosa" Agim worked with the second unit at rush end and has been a factor.

"He's explosive and gifted," Bielema said. "He made a play on Thursday that not many young players can make. He's done extremely well. That play Thursday, it was just a routine play because he knew to shut his motor down and shuffle in place."

The Hogs switch from three workouts in the first week to four in each of the next three. Bielema said next week's scrimmage will include more passing game, third down work and goal line situations.

Strong linebacker Randy Ramsey received praise.

"He's been impressive every day," Bielema said. "He's on task, on point and a very focused man."


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