Arkansas took a break from the routine of spring drills for an ultra-competitive spring game complete with a player draft and player coaches as the Red squad held off a White rally for a 13-7 victory Saturday afternoon at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
The Razorbacks will wrap up spring drills Monday with their 15th and final workout, mainly for the benefit of quarterbacks and receivers. Nutt said the rest of the team will come together for meetings with their position coaches to review the scrimmage. The quarterbacks and receivers will review mistakes from the Saturday scrimmage.
Red's Tarvaris Jackson hit Senior Sparky Hamilton several times, throughout the scrimmage, including a 36-yard post that fluttered beautifuly into Sparky's hands as he crossed the goal line. The other six points came on field goals of 32 and 38 yards by Brennan O'Donahoe.
The white team, coached by George Wilson, tallied found the endzone only once, on an 11-yard dash by Kyle Dickerson. It was set up by a gorgeous 54-yard bomb from quarterback Ryan Sorahan to wide receiver Decori Birmingham.
Jackson, Hamilton, and running back De'Arrius Howard were all spectacular for the Red. Jackson looked extremely comfortable in the pocket. He made good decisions (except for one miscommunication that lead to an interception) and accurate throws. But the biggest suprise was his running ability. He had several runs in the 15-yard range, breaking multiple tackles and showing suprising quickness. Howard finished the scrimmage with nine carries for 53 yards. Hamilton caught three passes for 67 yards, including the 36-yard TD reception.
Hamilton looked as good as he has since he set foot on campus. He ran solid routes and made several tough catches. If he can be this consistent during the season, he will be a true weapon.
The hero for the day had to be Howard, freshman running back from West Memphis. After the death of his brother last week, he returned to the field Saturday, and basically dominated from the outset. Howard hit the holes hard, ran through tackles, and just made people miss. His combination of speed and power brought the crowd to its feet on numerous occasions. Howard missed all of the workouts last week.
The offensive line, led by Bo Lacy, Mark Bokermann, Scott Davenport, and Jason Peters, provided solid protection and tough run blocking throughout the scrimmage.
Defensively, the red squad was impressive as well. Tony Bua, Lerinezo Robinson, and Pierre Brown delivered so big time hits and did not miss many tackles. Marvin Jackson was a big bright spot at corner.
There were not as many highlights for the white squad, but it was certainly good to see Cedric Cobbs running as hard as he did. Cobbs continued to run hard, forward. He had a couple of long runs, and he really is starting to look more like the Cobbs of old from his freshman season three years ago.
Birmingham and Sorahan hooked up several times but for the most part the White offense was out of sync. Matt Jones struggled for the short time he was in at quarterback. Jones did see quite a few snaps at wide receiver, but Sorahan was usually under so much pressure that he couldn't get the ball to Matt. Sorahan was 4 of 9 passing for 64 yards. Jones had four rushes for 10 yards.
The lone defensive highlight for the White squad came when Jimmy Beasley picked off a Tarvaris Jackson pass on a miscommunication between Jackson and his receiver.
The White team's lone TD came on Kyle Dickerson's 11-yard run. That came one play after Sorahan and Birmingham hooked up on a 54-yard pass.
Probably the most impressive drive of the game (which consisted of four 6-minute quarters) came just before halftime when Jackson led the Red into field goal range before O'Donohoe booted a 38-yarder with four seconds left. Jackson completed short passes to Mark Pierce, Carlos Ousley and scrambled 10 yards to move the Red into field goal range.
Afterwards Houston Nutt spoke about the performance of his players:
"It was a fun day. I don't think anybody got hurt and that was a key thing. It was very competitive and I think both teams played hard. I'm just real proud of them. We had a good spring."
Nutt was clearly pleased with the effort of Dearrius Howard:
"He's something. He's a powerful runner. He picked right back were he left off. We weren't going to play him but he wanted to so bad. I'm just so glad he decided to come to the University of Arkansas."
Nutt also praised Tarvaris Jackson:
"He did a great job. He made good decisions, good throws. He had a beatiful pass to Sparky. I love the way he sits in there and doesn't worry about the pressure."
Jackson was also pleased with his performance:
"I think I've learned the defenses a lot more. Controlling the huddle and just doing the little stuff. I feel pretty comfortable out there. We won the game, so I did okay. But I can do better."
Dearrius Howard was clearly excited about his play:
"I feel pretty good. I didn't get into the endzone like I wanted to but I think I had a good day. I just mix it with speed and power. I don't want to do nothing fancy. I just want to get the first down and get in the endzone."
After the difficulties he faced last week Howard was more than happy have football as his therapy:
"It feels good to get away from all that. My mom and dad came up. I thought this would be a good way to get away from it and get my mind off of it."