Four Downs: Inconsistent Play at QB; Weather Keeps Hogs Indoors


1. Inconsistent at QB

Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said quarterbacks Brandon Allen and Brandon Mitchell were “inconsistent” during last Saturday’s scrimmage. But it wasn’t a big surprise as Arkansas introduces a new offensive philosophy this spring.

“It’s obvious we’re running some different concepts they’re not familiar with,” Chaney said. “So it’s a continual process of getting them familiar with the concepts in the passing game. Some of the things that we’ve done that they’re familiar with in the past, with the old regime’s passing game, they seem pretty good with. But some of the new things that we brought in with us, they struggled with a little bit.”

Allen completed 11 of 19 passes for 137 yards with one touchdown and one interception working with the first-team offense. Mitchell went 7-for-14 for 112 yards with a touchdown with the second-team group. Both quarterbacks led the offense to one touchdown drive during the 74-play scrimmage.

Chaney said the on-target completion percentage was “a little down” from what he expects, but said it’s probably because the “brain is thinking a lot.” Chaney was confident there will be improvement with repetition the final eight practices.

“Familiarity is what we’re looking for,” Chaney said. “We’ve just got to continue to do the same thing over and over and over again. Deliberate practicing, that’s what we’re trying to get done. But I was comfortable with both of them, how they competed. All of the kids went out and competed well and at the end of the day, they all made their mistakes and they all did some good things.

“Pretty much what we thought we’d see in the first scrimmage.”

2. Ain’t No Sunshine

Chaney asked where the warm spring weather was after last Tuesday’s practice. A week later, the offensive coordinator was still looking for it.

Arkansas practice indoors once again after rain and cold temperatures blanketed Northwest Arkansas. It has been a trend for much of the spring. Chaney said Arkansas has practice outside just once through seven spring workouts.

 “I like to go outside and play football,” Chaney said. “You know, I think that you go out there and you throw the bomb. It’s exciting. You’re over there in the indoor and it’s a beautiful place, thank goodness we have it. Thank God we have that building. It’s beautiful. But, ideally you’d love to get outside and play football. It’s fun.

“It’s spring time, man. You’re supposed to be out there fishing and playing football, right? That’s what we do in the spring.”

Chaney wasn’t the only one who felt that way Tuesday

“The weather has been ridiculous,” Arkansas guard Brey Cook said. “We've been inside the last two weeks, and I believe it's going to rain again on Thursday. But hopefully Saturday we'll be outside in the sun.”

3. Let’s Get Physical

Chaney said Arkansas continues to work its way toward becoming a physical football team. He admitted the Razorbacks are making progress, but aren’t there yet.

“We want to be the Chicago Bears,” Chaney said. “We want to go out and blast everybody. But what you do is you identify where you’re at and you go to work on it.

“Where we’re at is probably typical of where most teams start spring football. You get through winter workouts. You identify the guys that run around and go around cones and touch lines and you go, boy, he can play. And then you put the pads on and you find out who really can or can’t.”

4. Unofficial Title

Offensive line coach Sam Pittman picked up an unofficial title when he received a pay raise after being courted by Alabama earlier this winter. Bielema said Pittman — whose annual salary was increased from $275,000 to $550,000— has become the coaching staff’s point man in recruiting.

“Whenever we have office duty, he's usually in here an hour before. And if he's recruiting 30 offensive linemen, he Facebooks 15 and Tweets the other 15,” Bielema said last Saturday. “He has just constant communication and his personality, you guys have been around him a little bit, he's engaging.”

Chris Hauser, who is the director of football operations, remains Arkansas’ recruiting coordinator. But Bielema said Pittman has been key to the Razorbacks’ recruiting efforts in his first few months with the program.

“He's a premium recruiter and the more I can put to Sam and say, ‘This is how Pitt does it. The rest of us should be following,’” Bielema said. “It's not going to overburden him with recruiting responsibilities.”

— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau