Cold weather kept the crowd down, but it didn't stop Arkansas quarterbacks Casey Dick and Nathan Emert from finding their receivers in the Red-White scrimmage Saturday night at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
An estimated 2,500 attended the scrimmage, but Razorfest organizer Rick Schaeffer said the crowd at the event earlier in the day numbered around 25,000.
"We had a wonderful day, starting with record numbers at our lettermen's reunion breakfast in the stadium at 8 this morning," said Arkansas coach Houston Nutt. "We had a packed house at Walker Pavilion for our fan appreciation autograph session.
"We had a good scrimmage tonight. I want to thank our fans for coming out. It was so cold. I wouldn't expect anyone to come out to a scrimmage in this weather."
It was so cold that the Hogs did their pre-practice stretches inside the indoor workout area in the Broyles Center.
"It was a great day," Nutt said, who was excited about the message UA letterman Jimmy Johnson delivered to the team earlier in the afternoon.
"Jimmy talked to them for 22 minutes. The players loved it. It was an outstanding, just outstanding message. He told them they had a good season, but that they shouldn't be satisfied with anything but a great season. He told them they have to stay focused on the goal of a great season and not to let anyone derail that focus this summer. He said they have to stay together as a team."
Some Arkansas players said after the scrimmage they had "no idea" Johnson had played on the Hogs' 1964 national title team.
"I didn't know that until today when he told us," said tailback Darren McFadden. "It was great to listen to a man like that with all of his experience. He gave us a very uplifting talk."
Wideout London Crawford said his eyes "glistened" when he saw Johnson walk into the room.
"Just to be in the presence of a man like that was a highlight," he said. "It made our day. He was positive, encouraging and he told us what we needed to do this summer to be great. All of the players were looking at each other and surprised to see him. No, I didn't know he was an Arkansas player. I'm not surprised. A lot of greatness has come through here."
Nutt thinks this bunch of Hogs has plenty of greatness, although most of it was kept under wraps this spring and for Saturday night.
"We didn't put a lot of our first teamers out there," Nutt said. "We did let Darren run the Wildcat for a play or two because they were begging to get out there. But we didn't let anyone tackle them. We had a quick whistle on the quarterbacks and we didn't let some of the others do a thing."
Defensive coordinator Reggie Herring held out many of his first teamers on defense, most of them bothered by injuries.
"That was patchwork at best what you saw with the ones on defense," Herring said. "We didn't have Freddie Fairchild, Michael Grant, Weston Dacus, Marcus Shavers, Fred Bledsoe, Michael Grant, Marcus Harrison and Antwan Robinson. We should have all of those guys in the fall. So we'll try to build our chemistry when we blend those guys into what we had this spring. With so many guys out with injuries, you can't begin to build chemistry, but we will do that.
"As far as today, I thought Jerrell Norton made some plays in one-on-one situations and that was good. Red Richardson made a nice interceptions. As for Jerrell, you are glad to see a young corner in front of a crowd in the stadium and see what he is going to do. We got some pressure against their backups with our first teamers. Aside from that, I was disappointed we didn't tackle well a couple of times at the end, but it was a good day and a good spring.
"We still need depth at corner and at linebacker, but I like what we have in other areas. We need our freshmen to come in and provide depth. That hasn't changed. All of our freshman are in the picture when they get here."
Offensive coordinator David Lee was impressed with quarterback Casey Dick, backup Nathan Emert and running back Michael Smith in the scrimmage, along with the wideouts and tight ends.
"I thought both our quarterbacks had a good spring," Lee said. "We said we were giving them a lot of installs and we did. We said it was going to bother them at first and they'd get better and they did that. I thought Casey looked good early this spring and then he kind of struggled with all of the installs. The last week he looked very good and I thought he had a good night tonight.
"I wasn't sure what he could handle in the package we were going to put in. I figured he could handle the play-action package, but I wasn't sure about the reads and the progressions. He did well with all of it. I'm encouraged. Nathan Emert doesn't have the arm that Casey has, but he is very good with everything else.
"I thought our receivers got better and are going to be very good. Obviously, we have great backs. Michael Smith is a real player. I also think Peyton Hillis is a tremendous asset. He had an outstanding spring."
Statistically, it was tough to sort through what was meaningful since the whistles were quick and players moved from the red (first team) and white (backups and third teamers) as the night progressed.
Cick was 8 of 14 for 117 yards and played only with the starting unit. Emert was 3 of 11 for 25 yards with one interception with the white team. He was 4 of 6 for 55 yards when he switched to the red for some red zone work late in the workout.
Rod Coleman led the white team with one catch for 15 yards. Carlton Salters and John Aaron Rees also added one catch each.
For the red squad, Hillis led the way with four catches for 38 yards and Ben Cleveland added two for 52 yards. Notably, they were playing the same spot in Lee's pro-styled attack which seems to feature the tight end.
Michael Smith and Marcus Monk eached added two catches. Andrew Davie and London Crawford both had one catch. Crawford's was a highlight tape grab over Shedrick Johnson for a touchdown.
"That pumped us all up," Crawford said. "Monk had gotten us all excited for this night."
Asked if he is ready to step up to be the No. 2 guy besides Monk, Crawford was noncommittal.
"I don't think it's about that," he said. "It's about trying to help your team win. We all are ready to help. If I'm the No. 5 guy, I'm still here to help our team win. That's the way we all feel as far as wideouts.
Quarterback Casey Dick said it was a good spring, one that produced confidence on the offensive side.
"You do something day after day and you start getting confident," he said. "It showed at the end of the spring. We got some confidence. We just have to keep getting better. We have to work all summer with our 7-on-7 stuff and keep learning Coach Lee's stuff and getting better with it."
Hogs Finish Spring with Scrimmage
Hawgs Daily Top Stories
Top 10 most irreplaceable Razorbacks in 2017Arkansas can't afford to lose any of these players in 2017.
Hawgs DailyYesterday at 2:08 PM
Hogs announce 2017-18 season openerArkansas has announced the date and opponent for its 2017-18 season opener.
Hawgs DailyYesterday at 9:06 AM
Ragnow picks up another preseason honorFrank Ragnow has picked up another preseason honor.
Hawgs DailyWednesday at 4:24 PM
Hogs offer another in-state linemanThe Razorbacks have offered another in-state lineman.
Hawgs DailyTuesday at 9:16 AM
Gatlin discusses Arkansas offerHawgsDaily caught up with Arkansas target Noah Gatlin to talk about his recent offer from the Hogs.
Hawgs DailyMonday at 1:56 PM