Offense Falls Flat In First Scrimmage

FAYETTEVILLE -- Even after going through a 40-minute practice and then their first scrimmage of the spring, Arkansas' offensive linemen had one more thing to do Saturday afternoon.

They were forced to run laps, from one sideline to the other and back. It was likely their punishment for not providing enough protection for quarterback Casey Dick during the scrimmage.

As Arkansas offensive coordinator David Lee had expected, Dick had a hard time completing passes and the offense as a whole struggled to slow down the defense inside the Walker Pavilion.

"This is more my fault what happened today," Lee said. "When you give guys that much to think about in that short period of time and then expect them to execute it on the sixth practice, that's not realistic."

Lee has rewritten Arkansas' playbook since taking over as offensive coordinator on Jan. 17. Half the playbook is new, and Lee tried to get as much of the new passing scheme introduced over the first week of spring practices.

Not surprisingly, there were some growing pains Saturday. That was particularly true when it came to slowing down Arkansas defensive linemen Malcolm Sheppard, Antwain Robinson and Fred Bledsoe.

"The positive is we did a couple things in the red zone," Lee said. "Other than that, it was a great day for the defense."

Facing constant pressure, Dick completed only 4-of-7 passes for 16 yards and threw interceptions on consecutive plays, though the first pick was called back because of a defensive penalty.

Dick's only real highlight of the afternoon came at the end of his third series with the first-team offense, when he threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Marcus Monk.

"It was a disappointing day," Dick said. "We should have made more plays, but we do have a lot of installs and stuff like that. We're putting more in Monday, so we'll have to come back Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, clean it up and be all right."

Dick and backup Nathan Emert rotated after every series. And with running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones not allowed to take part in the scrimmage for fear that they could get injured, the offense had difficulty making plays.

Emert, working with the second-team offense, completed 9-of-15 passes for 68 yards and a 6-yard touchdown strike to fullback Peyton Hillis, who made a one-handed catch for the score.

Aside from that play and a 39-yard catch by wide receiver Robert Johnson, not much else went right for the offense.

"Offensively, (I'm) just disappointed because I know we're better than that," Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said. "And we've got to do a much better job of concentrating on assignments."

Arkansas' coaches had a feeling that the offense would have some struggles during the first scrimmage, which lasted around 50 plays.

The passing game has been retooled, and the players haven't had much chance this spring to get adjusted to all the changes. Still, Nutt didn't think it would go as poorly as it did Saturday.

There were too many missed assignments and mental breakdowns. As proof, the offensive line gave up seven sacks and 13 tackles for loss.

"I'm glad we have seven or eight more (practices this spring). We've got to get better," Nutt said. "Offensively, we didn't do a very good job today. (The) defense got at us."

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