Wednesday Afternoon Grid Report, 8/21

Arkansas conducted its first major scrimmage of the fall with quarterback Matt Jones accounting for four touchdowns. The Hogs hit for over one hour with over 1,500 fans lining the practice field in an electric atmosphere.

Matt Jones was the star today, despite working with the second and third units against the ones and twos. The offense scored four touchdowns with Jones on the field, including three on pass plays.

The Hogs were looking for production in the red zone and in the two-minute drill in hopes of putting as much pressure on their quarterbacks as possible in scrimmage situations. Typically, Jones handled the pressure with cool efficiency.

"We wanted Dave Wommack's defenses to come after us and to see what our young quarterbacks would do," said David Lee, the quarterback coach. "Actually, all three did well. We wanted to see them in these blitz situations, and we wanted to see our quarterbacks handling the pressure."

Jones, working with the third group, rolled right out of the shotgun to find Sparky Hamilton on a 35-yard strike down the middle of the field, beating the first team for the day's first score.

Jones got another TD on a short pass to George Wilson, who broke containment to finish off a 30-yard TD play.

Dedrick Poole scored on a 22-yard draw play for the third TD that Jones engineered. That one came after a couple of short passes in the hurry-up offense.

Ryan Sorahan rolled out of the pocket for the next score by the offense, finding Bam Bryant in the back of the end zone. An SEC official working the scrimmage ruled it out of the end zone, but there was no back line since they moved up the end zone because of a big crowd near a containing wall.

The final TD of the day was produced by Jones again. He scooped up a bad snap in the shotgun, rolled right, and found George Wilson down the sideline just as Jones got to the sideline.

"That was Ole Miss all over," said Lee. "Matt looked good making things happen today, just like usual. I'd say he's doing much better at staying in the pocket, and he can still make plays when things break down."

For the most part, protection was solid. The offensive line was without Josh Melton, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.

"We'll know tonight on Josh," Nutt said.

Dan Doughty and Kyle Roper, Melton's replacements, didn't miss a beat without the senior center.

"Dan is going to be good," said Mike Markuson, line coach. "He had a good day. In my mind, we have two good centers in Dan and Kyle. They are ready. We will go with them and they are both very good. They know our offense and they can handle the physical part of it and I like them both. I don't know when Josh will be back."

Nutt said it was obvious that his teammates were excited for Jones in the scrimmage. The head coach said he'd been told about a commentary in the Little Rock paper concerning Jones and his teammates' thoughts on his attitude.

"My antenna is always up on the quarterback situation, and I don't see what was written, just don't see it," Nutt said. "I don't believe it all. I saw players patting Matt on the butt when he made a play, and I saw the same ones patting Tarvaris and Ryan on the butt when they made plays. I don't think there's anything there. I think someone is misreading it totally.

"It's my job as head coach to watch for those things. I've had a black-white situation with quarterbacks before. I know what to watch for and I think I'm good with that sort of thing. We don't have that problem here at all. We have great chemistry. I do know that our team is aware of who gets the ball into the end zone and they want that man at quarterback. That's what we are watching for. We are going to pick the one who gets the ball in the end zone."

Lee said the only concerns he had in the scrimmage came with the velocity of some of Jackson's passes, especially a dump over the middle that was too hard for Jason Peters to handle. Peters batted the ball 40 yards into the air. It fell harmlessly between two defenders, but was a dangerous situation.

"We can't have that," Lee said. "Tarvaris just hasn't been in enough situations where there's real pressure. He's got to take something off that pass. Jason didn't have a chance."

The Hogs did not practice in the morning, instead doing a walk through in the stadium to check some situations before the scrimmage.

Nutt said it couldn't have been a better situation for his team with over 1,500 fans lining the field for the scrimmage.

"That was a great atmosphere, a lot of hype and some real fun for our players," Nutt said. "That excited them to see all the fans and made them give a little extra. It reminded me of an NFL training camp atmosphere, what I saw (with the Cowboys) in San Antonio earlier this summer."

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