Monk Provides Highlight With Touchdown Toss

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas' search for a starting quarterback will extend into the summer after evaluating sophomore Robert Johnson, redshirt freshman Alex Mortensen and true freshman Cole Barthel for three weeks.

But the Razorbacks might want to open the competition to a fourth candidate after Saturday's Red and White scrimmage in Razorback Stadium.

Receiver Marcus Monk looked the part of a confident quarterback, for at least one play, when he tossed a 44-yard touchdown pass to tailback Peyton Hillis. The touchdown toss was the second longest play of the day -- after Mortensen's 43-yard pass to receiver Chris Baker -- and the offensive highlight of the scrimmage.

"After that throw, we may have to (consider him)," quarterbacks coach Roy Wittke joked.

The play began as a quick screen to the left, where Monk stepped back from the line of scrimmage and caught a lateral from Barthel. Instead of turning upfield, Monk fooled the defense and tossed a spiral to Peyton down the right sideline.

Coach Houston Nutt said Monk's pass was "beautiful" and "perfect."

"You make them think it's a quick screen of some sort," Nutt said. "Reverses and double passes usually hurt a (defense) that reacts so fast.

"Marcus did a good job of buying us some time. That's the key. There's going to be people in your face and somebody possibly missing a block. You've got to buy some time and throw it up. Petyon did a good job of selling run, blocking on the backside.

"We've got to have some fun. Everybody likes that play."

Arkansas had plenty of success with the trick play last season during its 22-20 loss to Texas in Razorback Stadium. Former receiver Carlos Ousley connected with tailback DeCori Birmingham for an electrifying 34-yard score.

Arkansas has worked on the play all spring with Monk, a former high school quarterback, and Hillis. Receivers coach James Shibest told Monk to be prepared before Saturday's scrimmage and Nutt called the play after a place-kicking segment.

"If I can't get it to Peyton, I'm supposed to dump it off to the quarterback," Monk said. "I saw Peyton, the safety moved over, so I threw it to him."

But Monk isn't expecting to hear about a move to quarterback anytime soon.

"I'm going to leave that alone," Monk said. "I'm going to let them handle that."

Sack Machine

Defensive end Desmond Sims continued to terrorize quarterbacks Saturday, collecting three sacks during the scrimmage.

Sims dropped Mortensen for an eight-yard loss early in the scrimmage. Later, the junior sacked Barthel and Mortensen on back-to-back plays to kill a drive.

"Every time I see Desmond before practice I say, ‘You going to come see me in the backfield again today?'" Mortensen said. "It seems like he's always back there."

The 6-foot-3, 228-pound Sims had a productive spring after moving from linebacker to the defensive line this winter. He recorded a sack during Arkansas' scrimmage on April 2 and worked with the first-team defense all spring. Nutt called Sims a "playmaker" that opposing defenses better "put four hands on" next season.

"It felt real good (Saturday)," Sims said. "I just want to go out there and do my best, play fast and play hard. I feel real comfortable. I'm having a lot of fun."

Logan Catching On

Former Fayetteville High School standout Cedric Logan turned in a highlight of his own when he hauled in a 22-yard touchdown catch from Barthel.

The 6-foot, 179-pound redshirt freshman beat senior safety Lerinezo Robinson on a flag route to score the offense's third touchdown. He finished with a team-high 2 catches for 24 yards and a touchdown Saturday.

The scrimmage capped a solid spring for Logan, who is fighting for a spot in the rotation at receiver after redshirting in 2004.

"My goal for this spring was just to finish strong," Logan said. "I tried to do whatever I could to make up for last year. I never came in with the mindset that I'm going to redshirt. (Redshirting) kind of got me down, but I think I've done everything I could this spring to get me ready for next fall."

Thin Up Front

Arkansas couldn't hold a full-scale spring game because of the rash of injuries to offensive linemen this spring. But the Hogs were missing beefy players from both sides of the ball Saturday.

Tight end Jared Hicks; offensive linemen Chase Pressley, James Johnson, Cody Green, Zac Tubbs and Skye Peterson; and defensive linemen Clarke Moore, Fred Bledsoe and Jeremy Harrell were sidelined. Without them, Nutt credited the linemen that made it through the entire spring after the scrimmage.

"The offensive and defensive linemen, I really thought fought through some injuries and pain," Nutt said. "We were really thin right there. I really appreciate their heart and character."

Jones Watch

Former quarterback Matt   Jones got his first look at the Razorbacks this spring when he watched the scrimmage from the sidelines.

Jones, who is preparing for Saturday's 2005 NFL Draft, spent time with former coaches and teammates and posed for pictures with fans on the sideline. Jones recently squeezed in visits with the Carolina Panthers and Cleveland Browns and is projected anywhere from a late first- to third-round pick.

There were a few other former Razorbacks coaches and players on the sideline as well Saturday, including offensive linemen Bo Lacy and Mark Bokermann, Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks coach David Lee and basketball player Blake Eddins.

Extra Points

Junior receiver Anthony Brown got in a few snaps at defensive end, but cornerback Michael Coe didn't get in any work at receiver. Both players practiced at two positions last week and were scheduled to get in eight snaps at their new spots. ... The offense didn't earn a first down until its third series, when cornerback Darius Vinnett was penalized for a late hit on Johnson on third-and-9. An Arkansas cheerleader, who was toppled on the play, left the field with an injury.

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