Arkansas didn't waste time getting to its first scrimmage. After two days in shorts and a day in pads, Sunday morning was half practice and half scrimmage. The Hogs went 78 plays in the stadium in front of about 800 to 1,000 fans.
And, for those counting passes, unofficial stats kept by this writer came up with 44 pass plays, counting "touch" sacks, since quarterbacks could not be tackled. The scrimmage part of the workout took up about half of the practice. The Hogs worked on individual technique to open the day and also held a 20-minute 7-on-7 drill before the scrimmage.
Casey Dick completed 13 of 17 passes with one interception for 120 yards to pace all quarterbacks. H-back/tight end D. J. Williams led all receivers with six catches for 53 yards. Michael Smith led rushers with 18 carries for 93 yards, but Brandon Barnett had a solid day, too. Barnett had eight carries for 45 yards and added five catches for 45 yards.
Most of Barnett's catches came with Ryan Mallett at QB. Mallett completed 8 of 14 passes for 74 yards. London Crawford added four catches for 36 yards. He caught a 6-yard TD pass on a fade from Casey Dick and also positioned himself for a pass interference penalty on a 50-yard bomb from Alex Mortensen.
Mortensen compleged two of three passes for 14 yards. Nathan Dick completed three of five for 53 yards including a bomb of 32 yards to John Aaron Rees for a touchdown.
Alex Tejada also had a solid scrimmage, knocking home all but two of his field goals. He nailed a kick of over 50 yards late in the day.
It was all enough to please new head coach Bobby Petrino. It was the Hogs' fourth straight workout in his first spring at Arkansas.
"We had a good first week," Petrino said. "We got a lot accomplished. We put in a lot of offense, a lot of defense and put in our punt, field goal and field goal block situations.
"We didn't do everything right, but I like the attitude and the effort. We will continue to work and continue to install.
"I thought Michael Smith ran well. He showed some toughness as did our offensive line. I thought our safeties improved from yesterday to today. I thought our defensive ends rushed well off the edge. We put some pressure on our quarterbacks. We are not hitting the quarterbacks or you would have seen some sacks."
Petrino praised Crawford at wideout.
"London did a nice job," Petrino said. "He ran well with the ball after the catch."
Asked about Barnett's play at running back, Petrino said, "We need him. He ran physical. He's got to come along with our pass protection. We can't get our quarterback hit. He would have allowed that twice if we were hitting quarterbacks.
"At quarterback, Casey operated really well. He threw with pressure. They were giving him some different looks and he handled it. Mortensen moved the ball. Ryan did well the first time he was out there, but some of the newness that we gave him on the second time, he wasn't as effective."
Casey Dick led the Hogs to a Tejada field goal of 37 yards on the first possession of the day, operating in a ones-against-ones session. Mallett led a drive for a touchdown on the next series, twos against twos in this situation. Barnett scored on a 11-yard draw out of the shotgun on third and goal. Mortensen then guided 8-play TD drive with Smith covering the final 3 yards. Casey Dick then threw an interception to halt the next possession, Jamar Love stepping up when Dick threw into triple coverage. Dick then guided a 9-play TD march with Crawford hauling in the fade for the final 6 yards.
Defense began to take control the rest of the way. Mallett converted only one first down in hte next three possessions. Casey Dick returned to lead a 9-play TD march with the offensive line dominated with a lot of running plays. Smith went over left guard for the final yard. Nathan Dick took over for the final three possessions with twos and threes on the field. There was one highlight in those possessions, the 32-yard TD pass to Rees, but the offense went three-and-out on the other two possessions.
With all of the offensive firepower on the day, Petrino was asked if he was worried about the defense.
"The hard thing alot of times when you are the head coach is when you move it like that, you are worried about the other side of the ball," he said. "You have to think about all areas. But I really think the defense did a nice job of running to the football. I think the linebackers were more physical today than we were yesterday.
"Our offensive line did a nice job of run blocking, but we have to get better with the pass protection. We are using some new techniques and we'll give them a lot of reps with it as we go along.
"We went four days straight and we wanted to see who would come out and follow the instructions of the coaches and who would get tired. I think we've done alright so far."
The Hogs didn't see either Chip Gregory (ankle) or Jerrell Norton (hamstring) in Sunday's scrimmage. Gregory was suited up and did go through the early part of the workout, but no plays in the scrimmage. Norton didn't dress out. Petrino called Gregory's injury a "tweak," and noted that he wanted to return to the practice Saturday but it was his decision as head coach to hold him out.
Barnett said he felt okay with his first scrimmage, but did agree with his head coach that he's still learning.
"I am just trying to take it one step at a time," he said. "You just try to come out here with a positive attitude and focus on what they are giving you. When your number is called, you try to be productive and get the job done.
"I don't know it all yet. I don't know all the protections. But we get the work, go back to the video and try to learn. That's all I can do. Try to learn it. I want to learn and get better. I just want to show them I will work hard. You have to try to do whatever it takes to show the coaches that you can do it. We are trying to execute these plays and get better. That's all of us."
The Hogs will take off on Monday before returning to the practice field on Tuesday.
Bobby Allen works with Cord Gray (98) and Brandon Lampkin (92) during the early part of practice.
Photo by Marc F. Henning
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