FOUR DOWNS – NOTES FROM PRESEASON CAMP
1. Still Waiting
Running back Knile Davis’ scrimmage debut will have to wait a little longer.
Arkansas continued to hold Davis out of full-contact work Saturday, leaving him out of their plans for the 160-play scrimmage in Razorback Stadium. Davis was in uniform and practiced with the team during pre-scrimmage drills, but watched when Arkansas’ first-team offense stepped on the field Saturday.
Arkansas coach John L. Smith, who said before preseason practice the Razorbacks intended to get Davis involved in full-contact work in camp, was asked afterward if the Razorbacks had devised the plan for Davis.
“We’ll give you that when the time comes,” Smith said.
Saturday’s scrimmage came exactly one year to the date of Davis’ broken ankle in Razorback Stadium. He went down during the first major scrimmage of 2011 preseason camp and was sidelined for the season because of the injury.
Davis hasn’t been completely sheltered this preseason. He has taken part in drills where defensive players hit running backs without bringing them to the ground. He even delivered a knockout blow, of sorts, to linebacker Tenarius Wright when the two collided in a hole during Monday’s practice.
“He’s still getting banged,”Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino said earlier this week. “They’re just not taking him to the ground. He just has to get his reads and get his footwork down and hit the hole full speed. He’s done a good job of that. He’s just got to continue to do that. His attitude has been good.”
2. Johnson Returns
Running back Dennis Johnson returned from a three-day absence to help carry the rushing load in Davis’ absence. The senior, who didn’t practice because of a family matter, rushed for a scrimmage-high 76 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.
“He ran real hard,” Smith said. “I thought he did a darn good job. I was pleased with him for the most part. He stayed healthy and he ran like Dennis should run.”
Arkansas also got another solid performance from freshman Jonathan Williams, who ran for 37 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. Freshman Nate Holmes scored a touchdown on a 23-yard run and finished with 41 yards on five attempts.
3. Dropped Passes
Arkansas’ receiving corps has made its share of plays during preseason practices this month. But there was one thing bothering Smith after Saturday’s scrimmage.
“There were more drops than we’ve dropped all fall,” Smith said. “Normally we don’t see that. Overall me might not have had the focus that we have had in the past offensively. I kind of noticed that. There were more drops than we ever expected and that we’ve had all fall. That will get cleaned up.”
Receiver Cobi Hamilton, who caught five passes for 83 yards and a touchdown, said the drops were disappointing. But he doesn’t believe they will be a lasting issue.
“We know how to catch the football,” Hamilton said. “We’ve got to do stuff we’ve been coached to do. We have to do a better job … I’ve got to do a better job of catching the football and getting other guys around me to catch the football.”
4. Splitting Time
Senior Kiero Small split his time between fullback and linebacker Saturday.
The two-way player caught one pass for 12 yards with the first-team offense. Even more, he collected two of the defense’s 12 sacks during the scrimmage.
“I had a lot of errors out there, stuff that I shouldn’t have messed up on,” Small said of his work on defense. “So I’ve still got to work on that. But as far as making plays, the scheme is great. So I think I can make them.”