Bailey turns in big play

FAYETTEVILLE – Offensive coordinator Paul Petrino had a prediction before Saturday's scrimmage in Razorback Stadium.

According to receiver Jarius Wright, Petrino said walk-on running back Mitchell Bailey was going to make an impact.

"We were sitting in the film room watching film and Coach Paul Petrino was like, that kid right there, Mitchell Bailey, is going to break one," Wright said. "Next thing you know, on the first drive for the second team, he came out and broke it."

The offense turned several big plays, but the biggest came from an unlikely source. Bailey, a fullback who was getting carries at tailback because of Arkansas' injury problems in the backfield, got the ball on the ninth play of the scrimmage, broke a tackle and outran the secondary down the sideline for an 80-yard touchdown.

Bailey finished the scrimmage as Arkansas' leading rusher, carrying 13 times for 108 yards and the touchdown. He also impressed Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino with his pass-blocking skills.

"I've always liked him," Petrino said. "I liked him last year when he was a walk-on, true freshman and played fullback for us. He's gotten himself bigger and stronger. He's very competitive. He's got to learn how to stay healthy, I think that's one of the things."

But running backs coach Tim Horton said Bailey did a great job of taking advantage of his chance to carry the ball Saturday.

He was the third Arkansas running back to touch the ball and was the only one who turned in a rushing play of 30 yards or more.

Horton said the performance could help Bailey earn more work at tailback next week.

"I thank the coaches for giving me the opportunity," Bailey said. "I'm a walk on. I really respect them for giving me the opportunity. Even if I had one carry for one yard, I thank them just for doing that."

Defensive Lapses

Defensive coordinator Willy Robinson's view on Bailey's 80-yard touchdown run wasn't as good. In fact, Robinson was disappointed his group failed to chase down the running back.

"What was really scary is that was a fullback type body that is making that run. And the scary part about it is in the back end, you don't have catch up speed to make a tackle on a fullback," Robinson said. "It shouldn't be anything that overwhelms the back end and not be able to make the tackle and give us another chance."

It was that kind of day for Robinson's defense, which gave up three touchdowns on the first 13 plays. It also surrendered 67-, 58-, 47-, 45- and 44-yard pass plays before settling down and playing better.

"I just know there were too many deep balls," Robinson said.

Big-Play Joe

Receiver Joe Adams turned in a big day, catching seven passes for 153 yards and four touchdowns. Adams, who had been plagued by dropped balls, latched onto 45-, 26-, 25- and 10-yard touchdowns.

"He's electrifying with the ball and he looked like at times the quickest player out there running with the football," Petrino said.

Adams did drop three passes, something the sophomore acknowledged. However, Adams said he continues to work on it.

"If you focus on dropped balls, you're going to drop the next one," Adams said. "You have to put that behind you."

Scrimmage Injuries

Tight end Chris Gragg had to be helped off the field with a high ankle sprain Saturday and didn't return. Neither did guard Seth Oxner, who went down with what appeared to be a leg injury.

Defensive tackle Zach Stadther suffered a neck injury a little later in the scrimmage. After being checked out by doctors on the sideline, Stadther walked back to the locker room wearing a neck brace.

"He dinged his neck a little bit, so they got him out right away," Petrino said. "That's all I know."

Petrino said the Razorbacks also aren't sure of the severity of running back Dennis Johnson's foot injury. The sophomore missed his second consecutive practice Saturday, but could miss more.

"There's so much swelling right now we probably won't know until midweek how bad it is, whether he will be back for spring ball or not," Petrino said.

Goal Line Struggles

One of Arkansas' biggest offensive goals next season is to improve in short-yardage and goal-line ground situations. But it struggled once again to punch the ball in throughout Saturday's scrimmage.

The offense moved inside the 5-yard line on four different possessions Saturday. They scored touchdowns on three of them, but it took several tries before running backs crossed the goal line.

"It's not as good as we need to be," running backs coach Tim Horton said. "We got it in, but a lot of times it took us four whacks at it. Hey, let's get it in on first down from the two instead of fourth down from the one. That's an aspect we've still got to improve on."

Hawgs Daily Top Stories