Red-White Game, It's More Like Black and Blue

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring wants to caution those fans planning to attend tonight's Red-White spring game.

"You're not going to see the defense you're going to see next fall," Herring said. "Not even close." The same will go for Arkansas' offense. Because of a slew of injuries on both sides of the football, the Razorbacks will be noticeably shorthanded when they take the field at 6 p.m. today in Reynolds Razorbacks Stadium. At least 5-6 projected defensive starters will be held out of the team's final spring scrimmage. That includes linebackers Weston Dacus (concussion) and Freddie Fairchild (knee injury), as well as all but one starter on the defensive line. "We're only two-deep, barely," Herring said. Meanwhile, wide receiver Robert Johnson (sore hamstring) might not play, and star running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones won't be hit as a precaution. So who's left for Razorbacks fans to watch? "I would look at some of these new guys and get me a roster and kind of go through it that way," Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said. "It's hard to develop a team (like), ‘Hey, I'm picking the White (team), I'm picking the Red,' like you used to do because of the numbers." Nutt admits it will be difficult to judge tonight's scrimmage because many of the players who will be counted on next season won't be taking part in it. That forced Nutt to adjust the format of the Red-White game. It won't be as long as last year's game when an announced crowd of 23,000 came out to see what then-offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn could do. Tonight's scrimmage is expected to last an hour and include between 60-75 plays. No backup plan has been announced should poor weather affect the playing of the game. For the time being, Arkansas' players will be split into two teams. The Red team will feature the starters while the White team will consist of backups. "You're going to see a lot of 2s and 3s blended in with our 1s. You're going to see some guys that might not even get a snap next fall play," Herring said. "It's just the way it is." Because of the limited number of starters available, Arkansas' coaches won't be able to show as much of their game plans as they would have liked. For the most part, new Arkansas offensive coordinator David Lee will have a hard time unveiling the massive overhaul he did to Arkansas' passing game. His expectations for the scrimmage are rather basic. He wants his players to execute their assignments and avoid committing 4-5 turnovers. "I just don't want anybody to get hurt. We've had a couple of guys banged up, our defense is banged up, we've got some guys nicked up," Lee said. "... The biggest thing I would like to see is us go execute our stuff, know who to block, we don't have a bunch of missed assignments and get some ugly minus-yardage plays and then take care of the football." From Herring's standpoint, tonight will be a "limited scrimmage" because he just doesn't have the depth to do too much when it comes to blitzes and coverages. Herring admits his defense will be "very basic, very vanilla." The majority of the backups filling in just aren't familiar enough with the complicated schemes to attempt them. "You just won't be able to get a good feel for us defensively, I believe that. I think you need to look at certain individuals," Herring said. "We're going to be a limited defense, we're not going to do too much just because I don't know how much these guys can handle as a group." Herring instead wants to pay close attention to certain positions to see if anyone can step up and show that he deserves more playing time in the fall. Herring wants to look at cornerback, where there is a three-man race between sophomore Jerell Norton, junior Jamar Love and redshirt freshman Ramon Broadway for a starting job. Herring also wants to take a look at the linebacker core, which has been severely hit by injuries. For the most part, it will be a "patchwork" defense. "We lost a lot of players, so our numbers are a little bit down. It's not like it used to be where you could just say, ‘Next,'" Nutt said. "It's hard to do that. (But) I think it's going to be fun." RED-WHITE GAME WHEN: 6 p.m., today WHERE: Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville LENGTH: Between 60-75 plays, approximately 1 hour TV: Cox Sports (Cable channel 119) ADMISSION: Free. Gates open throughout day. Fans may enter through gate 1, south side, or gates 12, 13, 15 and 16 on north side. FOR THE EARLY ARRIVALS: The first 2,000 fans in the stadium will receive a Darren McFadden Heisman Trophy key chain card with football schedule, while the first 3,500 fans will receive a free Razorback schedule poster. WEATHER: No backup plan has been announced should poor weather affect the playing of the game.

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