Saturday Grid Update, 8/18

Alex Tejada boots two field goals of over 50 yards and Crosby Tuck has nearly 100 receiving yards as the UA offense takes advantage of a short-handed Razorback defense in Saturday night's 87-play scrimmage.

The University of Arkansas' scrimmage Saturday night was a billed as a depth one with many defensive starters sitting out, but a couple of true freshman offensive starters may have emerged as well for the Associated Press' No. 21-ranked squad.

Former Springdale kicker Alex Tejada thrilled the crowd with his leg, booming 8-of-9 field goals – including ones from 55 and 51 yards.

Former Shiloh Christian wideout Crosby Tuck (4 catches, 93 yards) then shined late, hauling in a 37-yard touchdown grab from starting quarterback Casey Dick (8 of 15 from 116 yards with two touchdowns and no picks).

"I think we got done what we really needed to get done," Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt said. "I am anxious to watch the film and see who really gave forth the effort, who is learning assignment and who really reached down.

"We really stretched the twos and threes and we'll find out (on film)," Nutt added. "Now we will try and get organized on the scout team Sunday and we really start heading into Troy."

That preparation will likely include Tejada as the starting field goal kicker although Nutt stopped short of naming him that on Saturday night.

"The first thing is my mind is that I thought Alex Tejada really stood out," Nutt said. "…It is a great feeling just to see that. That is one thing I think since we have been here, the one thing we have been missing is that dependability on three points each time we hit the 30 yard line. You have confidence with him.

"The thing that is tough is that Jeremy Davis had a great camp, too, but he got hurt," Nutt continued. "We got two weeks and he'll be back Monday, but boy you gain a lot of confidence with Alex."

Tejada was given several ovations by the crowd, which was estimated at 4,100.

"It was awesome," Tejada said. "It is always great when you get a great warm reception from your crowd. I feel great coming out here and performing like I did tonight, especially in front of a bigger crowd than we did last week. I wanted to give them a little taste of what is coming up."

Tejada has been very respectful of upperclassman David, but wants to be the kicker in the opener against Troy.

"I would like that and Jeremy wants it the same way," Tejada said. "I respect Jeremy, he is one of my teammates and I am going to stand by him the whole time."

Tuck is another rookie who has had a great camp, earning him praise from UA offensive coordinator David Lee on Saturday night.

"I think we found a split end tonight," Lee said. "I haven't talked to Coach Nutt yet, but I thought Crosby Tuck was exceptionally impressive tonight and that is a real good feeling after losing what we need two weeks ago in Marcus Monk."

Tuck admits it has been quite the adjustment from high school to college.

"The speed is so much different than in high school," Tuck said. "I have always heard that, but even in practice and scrimmages it shows…I am just trying to keep adjusting to the speed because it is a whole lot faster than high school was."

Casey Dick is thoroughly impressed with Tuck.

"He catches the ball when it is thrown to him and that is something we are looking for right now," Dick said. "I don't think he has dropped one. We are continuing to get it to him and feed it to him and see how far he can go with it."

Receivers Carlton Salters (5 catches, 60 yards) and London Crawford (1 catch, 21 yards) also were lauded.

"He (Salters) has been steady – a quite, steady guy," Nutt said. "He keeps making catches and he makes his blocks. He is a quite, steady performer. I am really proud of him.

"I also thought London Crawford showed some toughness across the middle while catching a tough ball," Nutt added. "And Crosby Tuck just continues to make plays."

Crawford was impressed with both the efforts of Casey and Nathan Dick (6-of-12, 68 yards) on Saturday.

But he is obviously more surprised that Nathan Dick has look so good during camp.

"Casey is more experienced and knows more about the game than Nathan," Crawford said. "Nathan plays up to a potential that I really didn't think he would. He is a great athlete, a great guy on and off the field and he is coming along real good. Both of those guys are doing great."

Lee noted that both of them could do better, but he also liked most of what he saw on Saturday night.

That included what would have been 12 plays covering 120 yards – including a Michael Smith 50-yard dash to paydirt - to start the scrimmage.

"I was relatively pleased," Lee said. "Of course, (defensive coordinator) Reggie (Herring) had a bunch of starters out so we can't get too excited.

"I thought Casey looked better, a lot better than he did last week," Lee added.

"I thought Nathan Dick did a good job," Lee said. "I like his height, his strength and his accuracy and I thought he had a good scrimmage."

That led to inevitable question if Nathan Dick was on the verge of moving ahead of current back-up Nathan Emert (2-of-6, 28 yards, 1 pick) into the No. 2 signal caller role.

"There is no use to ask me anything about the depth chart tonight because I am not going to say anything about it tonight," Lee said. "I am going to look at the tape, but I did come off the field feeling really good about his (Nathan Dick) progress.

"We just have got to get him where he can get the signals and get his eye on the 25-second clock," Lee added. "We can't have (junior qb and holder) Clark Irwin standing out there in the huddle with him all the time. There is a lot of growth that takes place, but he had a good scrimmage."

Although Lee frown on a couple of drops and a couple of missed post plays, he did see some positives.

"The positives are that we had only one penalty where the last scrimmage we had about eight," Lee said. "The other positive is that had four quarterback-center exchange problems last week and we had only of those tonight. We did much better on our assignments and had only one sack with our ones. We threw and caught the ball well at times tonight."

Casey Dick was happy with both his performance and that of his younger brother.

"I thought I played a lot better than I did last week," Casey Dick said. "I threw better and felt more confident again. That will continue to be a growing thing. It is coming every day and it is starting to show.

"…He (Nathan) has got a lot accomplished," Casey said. "He has gotten better and progressed every day and in two weeks he has come along way."

Herring was not the happiest camper seeing as how he only had the three defensive starters playing on Saturday.

"For defense, it was a day of rest for our starters more than anything else and to see what the twos and threes could do," Herring said. "We have got a couple of twos that might help us this year. We have got two weeks to oil them up, but overall there weren't many guys I saw that we can count on for game week.

"We were holding guys out because we don't have much depth and if we get guys hurt right now, we are in a bad way," Herring added. "We held our guys out to get them to game day and that's our job to do."

That did allow current back-ups such as Matt Harris and Brandon Barnett (who both had interceptions) and defensive ends Antwain Robinson and Adrian Davis to both have big plays.

Senior defensive tackle Fred Bledsoe also had one great play – a 17-yard sack of Emert.

Arkansas will return to practice on Monday.


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