FOOTBALL: Offense On Display

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas quarterback Casey Dick zipped passes, 49 of them to be exact, all over Frank Broyles Field on Saturday night.

Receiver London Crawford beat cornerbacks off the line of scrimmage and pulled in catches. Tight end D.J. Williams repeatedly found space in a soft secondary to make play-after-play. And running back Michael Smith ripped off handfuls of big gains.

The record-setting crowd of 40,200 that piled into Reynolds Razorback Stadium to watch Arkansas' spring-ending scrimmage got exactly what it was looking for during the Red team's 45-14 win against the White: Offense. And a lot of it.

Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino's system made its unofficial debut during the Red-White Game. The performance wasn't perfect, but the sheer numbers — 601 yards, 404 passing yards and touchdowns from four different starters — left an impression.

"I think that was (Petrino's) plan," said Smith, who rushed for a game-high 157 yards and gained 63 more on three receptions. "He wanted to show you his offense can work like it should. He showed the fans and he wanted to get that instilled in our heads so that we start believing it.

"We have."

The production came from a first-team offense spearheaded by a core group of players — Dick, Smith, Crawford and Williams — the Razorbacks will be counting on to produce next season.

Dick, who led the Red team as it ran through the ‘A' before the scrimmage, was the offensive ringleader Saturday. One season after being asked to simply avoid mistakes in Arkansas' run-oriented offense, he completed 33 of 49 passes for 404 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

Dick helped the Red cruise downfield to score touchdowns on three of its first four possessions. It scored six touchdowns in all Saturday night.

"When things work in this offense, they work," Dick said. "It's a great offense."

Williams led all receivers with 9 catches for 80 yards and a touchdown. Crawford added eight catches for 82 yards and a score. Carlton Salters snagged seven balls for a game-high 108 years.

Running back Brandon Barnett also had success with the Red, rushing for 48 yards and three touchdowns in the second half. He played for the White in the first half and had 41 yards and a score. He rushed for 89 yards and 4 touchdowns in all.

"It feels great going out there and being able to show everyone we can move up and down the field," said Crawford, who caught a 4-yard touchdown pass.

Of course, Dick and the offense was aided by the fact that it didn't face the first-team defense. The groups — which scrimmaged against each other throughout the spring — shared a sideline Saturday.

But Petrino said he has been pleased with the progress the offense has made. Especially Dick.

"I've been impressed with his spring," Petrino said. "He's worked hard at really understanding the offense. He's worked just as hard at trying to understand defenses and what coverages are doing and now he's starting to put the two together."

The quarterbacks in the other huddle — Nathan Dick and Alex Mortensen — didn't have the same luxury with the second-team offense Saturday night.

The White, which squared off against the first-team defense, managed only 134 yards in the game. That included minus-1 in the second half.

Dick completed 2 of 4 passes for 50 yards, all of which came on a 50-yard bomb to receiver Rod Coleman. Mortensen was 2 of 7 for 29 yards.

But the blame didn't necessarily fall on the quarterbacks. A stingy Red defense gave up 76 yards on two big plays and 58 yards on 33 others.

"You don't like to give up the one deep ball," Petrino said. "We tightened up our coverage after that and flew around and made some plays."

So did the starting offense, which lived up to its billing Saturday night.

Arkansas' new and improved offense wasn't perfect in its spring game debut Saturday night. But the Razorbacks got a good look at the potential.

"We felt pretty good," Williams said. "There was a couple times we made mental errors, but I think we responded well to them. Hopefully we can get to the point where we cut down on those. If we do, I think we'll be very dangerous and hard to stop next year."

Arkansas Red-White Scrimmage

Red 45, White 14

White 7 7 0 0 — 14

Red 14 10 0 21 — 45

First Quarter

Red — Smith 21 run (Tejada kick), 11:43

Red — Crawford 4 pass from C. Dick (Tejada kick), 6:24

White — Huskisson 3 run (Haddock kick), 1:44

Second Quarter

Red — Williams 11 pass from C. Dick (Tejada kick), 11:10

White — Barnett 16 run (Haddock kick), 9:31

Red — Tejada 30 FG, :00

Fourth Quarter

Red — Barnett 3 run (Tejada kick), 14:35

Red — Barnett 8 run (Tejada kick), 8:30

Red — Barnett 3 run (Tejada kick), :42

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