Casey Shines in Red-White Game

Arkansas quarterback Casey Dick sparkled in front of 40,200 in the Red-White game Saturday night. Bobby Petrino liked what he saw in his first spring.

Casey Dick must have known he was going to throw a bunch of passes in the Red-White scrimmage -- or he just wanted to be the first to see 40,200 in Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

Or, maybe -- and he sure didn't say this -- he was excited to see the second defense for the first time all spring. Afterall, every scrimmage this spring had been scripted as ones against ones. It was starters against backups for the scrimmage.

At any rate, for the first time in his career, the senior quarterback took the team through the glass double doors and down one side of the band's "A" to the tune of the Razorback Fight Song.

"I just wanted to be the one to do it tonight," Dick said. "I thought about it and wanted to be first. I thought it was important to do that tonight and it was fun."

Dick was the star of the Red-White game. He completed 25 of 33 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns in the first half when his Red team kept the ball for an incredible 52 snaps. The Allen, Texas product finished the night with 33 of 49 passes for 404 yards. It should be noted that the first half was played under regular timing, but the clock -- as planned -- did not stop in the second half.

Had he ever thrown that much in a half?

"Never," he said. "But I feel fine. We threw a lot this spring. I was ready to start out this spring and my shoulder feels fine. No problem."

Dick led the Red team -- comprised of first teamers -- to a 45-14 victory and left the big crowd roaring with all of his completions. He could have had a bigger night but for five to six drops by his receivers.

It also left new Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino with plenty to smile about afterwards. Petrino wasn't pleased with failures in the red zone in several instances by the first team and said the team had a long way to go. But he liked a lot of what he said, including the atmosphere at Razorfest before the game and the reception fans gave the team at the outset and throughout.

"It was a lot of fun," he said. "There was excitement all day. It was a great day for Arkansas. The atmosphere was great. I want to thank the fans. I know the players were excited and I appreciate the reception.

"It was good to compete and play a game of football. Not everything went right, but it was good execution for the most part by the offense. The defense got better in the second half, flew around and tackled better."

Petrino's comments were about the first defense, which gave up 135 yards and 14 points in the first half, but held the backups to minus 1 total yard in the second half.

Defensive coordinator Willy Robinson said he took the blame for the two touchdowns allowed by the first defense in the first half.

"That's on me," he said. "We've had some scripted things this spring, scripted for success (of the offense). I didn't make any calls to be aggressive in the first half. I didn't do anything to get the first defense started. I could have made some calls to help that.

"But we did that in the second half and we were better. I just could have been a little more aggressive sooner and I wish I'd done that. We probably held a few things back (with the game on TV) and there's a fine line to all of that. But I could have done better."

As far as the progress on the spring, Petrino said, "It was a good spring. We've come a long way. I feel good about both fronts. We need some help at the skill positions, but our players worked hard this spring. It's been a very positive spring. Again, we have a long way to go, but I'm impressed with the players. They have good character and they understand how to work.

"They've learned how to work and about tempo. They've played physical and they have learned how to hit every day."

Petrino singled out Dick in his spring assessment.

"Casey had a good spring," he said. "I was impressed. He's improved. He has spent a lot of time to understand both the offense and what the defense is doing. He missed some things in the red zone and that's always disappointing.

"I thought our two tight ends (D. J. Williams and Andrew Davie), London Crawford and Carlton Salters played well."

Williams led the way with nine catches for 80 yards and one touchdown. Crawford added eight for 82 yards. Salters was next with seven for 108 yards.

Runnning back Michael Smith added three catches, taking a screen pass 55 to give him 63 for the night. Smith took advantage of superb blocking by the offensive line with 13 carries for 157 yards on the ground.

Smith's play drew praise from the head coach and his brother, offensive coordinator Paul Petrino. But Paul Petrino said, "Michael needs to work more on making plays in one-on-one situations." Along those lines, Bobby Petrino said, "I need to do a better job of getting him the ball in open-field situations."

Both Petrino brothers and Dick said there were some intentional plays that were designed to give the ball back to skill set players who had dropped passes earlier.

"I've always felt that you have to come right back to players," Bobby Petrino said. "You fumble, you don't make a catch -- my dad taught me that, come back to them."

Paul Petrino said, "If they are your main players, you have to do that. It's important. Anything to do with skill players, when you are doing a specialized skill, even basketball with shooters, you have to come back to them. Even when they are doing well, they are going to catch only about 90 percent. You have to show confidence in them and do things to get their confidence up."

Dick said, "You have a guy that you depend on, you have to keep them up, keep them into it. That means getting them the ball right back again when things didn't go well. That's the quarterback's job. We made a point of doing that tonight."

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