Saturday Grid Update, 8/11

Freshman quarterback Nathan Dick and kickers Alex Tejada and Jeremy Davis are among the standouts in Arkansas' Saturday night scrimmage.

While the University of Arkansas' football scrimmage Saturday night had several plays of note, it was the post-scrimmage interviews that brought about the most news.

Things like how freshman quarterback Nathan Dick had secured the third-string spot, how defensive coordinator Reggie Herring is high on Malcolm Sheppard, Brandon Barnett and Matt Harris and not so much on Antwain Robinson, some position changes and how a kicking game that was a weakness all of a sudden looks strong.

"It was good to get everybody out here and get them in as close to a game situation as you can get," Razorback head coach Houston Nutt said, "because 21 days from right now tonight it will be for real (against Troy).

"We are going to be able to take this film and study some of these young guys and see how they performed and see what they know and what they don't know," Nutt said. "I was proud of the effort and the attitude after a long week. We have a lot of guys bruised up, but they came out here with just a good attitude and good enthusiasm. We can take this film, get better and improve and that is what camp is about."

Several starters missed the scrimmage with wideout Marcus Monk, tight end Ben Cleveland, defensive ends Chris Wade, Antwain Robinson and defensive tackle Marcus Harrison all held out due to injuries.

Freshman linebacker Jermaine Love was also excused to go to Dallas to see the birth of his baby while Adrian Davis sit it out with a concussion.

Both offensive coordinator David Lee and defensive coordinator Reggie Herring were left wanting, but not dejected.

Lee said he saw some good things, some not so good.

"Generally speaking what we wanted to do was get the coaches out of the huddle, get away from the players and really see what we have without coaches chewing on them ever snap," Lee said. "I was disappointed with the second group and the inconsistency. We had trouble just getting the center snap consistently all night long.

"I thought the ones (first team), especially when the black shirts were in there, it is just a lot easier calling plays when those guys are in there obviously," Lee added.

True freshman Nathan Dick was the standout of the five quarterbacks that played.

Dick went 8-of-10 for 116 yards and two touchdowns while his older brother and starter Casey Dick was 4-for-10 for 30 yards with one touchdown and one pick.

"I think he (Nathan Dick) took it tonight," Nutt said of the third-team spot," Nutt said. "I love what he did throwing the ball. That's why I stand out there behind them. I love how he talks to the team, what he says to them and all those things."

Second-stringer Nathan Emert was 4-for-17 for 11 yards with several bobbled snaps.

"I thought probably the bright spot at the quarterback position was Nathan Dick," Lee said. "I think he has emerged as our third quarterback at this point in time."

The Razorbacks did move London Crawford to split end from flanker to add to that position since Monk is out with his injury.

"We have moved London over to split end because we feel like right now from watching him that he, Reggie and Robert are probably our top three with Marcus gone," Lee said. "You have got to get your best players on the field. It's just a brand new move and he has got to go learn everything next week."

Herring described his unit's night as just average.

"I thought overall that we just looked very average moving around," Herring said. "But is is the first scrimmage and we have been through a hard week.

"The ones had a bad down on the long run where we missed four or five missed tackles, which really looked sloppy," Herring continued. "Overall assignment-wise through the week we are okay. I think we are right on track, but a little bit behind in our depth."

Herring is looking for some reserves to make a move.

"I am really concern about our twos as far as them being game ready and trustworthy," Herring said. "We have three weeks to get them there."

Defensive end is one of those places where Herring was obviously challenging starter Antwain Robinson with his post-scrimmage comments.

"We have got some battles going on and end and we are going to have to have some young guys come through at end," Herring said. "Antwain Robinson is a guy whose past history is that he is always hurt and got some things wrong. Obviously he was out today.

"I think we have to move on and go find us some ends that we know are going to be there to play," Herring said. "Right now Antwain would be a day-to-day, part-time player.

"So we are looking at Adrian Davis – who is having a good camp – and we have got Donnell Sanders, who is doing an excellent job and we have got some freshmen in (Jake) Bequette, (DaMario Ambrose) and (redshirt freshman Van) Stumon coming on. We've got bodies there. Chris Wade is having an excellent camp, but we held him out today because of a helmet to the face."

Free safety Matt Harris had a pick and is moving up the depth chart according to Herring, who also continued to praise the move of Malcolm Shepard from defensive end to defensive tackle.

"Matt Harris has been sick the last few days, but he did some good things in the spring," Herring said. "He has had a solid camp which will hopefully give us a solid safety right there backing up Matt Hewitt. He is a pleasant surprise and one of the good things as far as the twos go."

Another player that could be coming into a significant role is junior college transfer Brandon Barnett, who made his name as a tailback but is working at cornerback.

"Barnett is working out at corner and just got camp eligible," Herring said. "It looks like he is going to play this year and help us. Barnett is definitely, definitely going to get some serious looks in our nickel dime package and at corner.

"He is 10.4 100 meter guy, he's real fast and while he was so thick we were worried if he had enough flexibility in his hips, but he has got the flexibility. The two days he has been working at corner, he has shown excellent coverage ability."

The coaches and fans seemed very enthused about the field goal kicking of returnee Jeremy Davis and true freshman Alex Tejada of Springdale.

The pair combined to make 14 of 16 field goal attempts on the night – each missing one boot - with both making a long of 46 yards.

"They did a good job tonight," Nutt said. "They really hit the ball well. I was really proud of the consistency. We will keep it (the race for the starter's job) going a little bit longer.

"…(Tejada) has had a great last few days with a lot of confidence," Nutt added. "He has great trajectory on the ball, the ball gets up."

Tejada was clearly the fan favorite of the two on the night and he says that he thinks he can get better because of it.

"Having the support from the fans really helps," Tejada said. "I think they played a great part in the success of the team. You come out here and feel comfortable that everybody is behind your back no matter what. You can't ask for more than that.

"It has been great competition and Jeremy is a great kicker and I am just trying to follow his lead right now," Tejada said.

Tejada said he believes that he could have nailed kicks from 55 yards out on Saturday night if they had put the ball down for the efforts.

"I feel very comfortable in the situations I was put in today," Tejada said. "My max might be around 55. I felt great today. I haven't felt this great since coming out of high school. I just felt very sure, very confident."

Arkansas will take Sunday off and get back into practice on Monday.

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