FOUR DOWNS – NOTES FROM PRESEASON PRACTICE
1. Scrimmage Assessment
Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino holds his first-team offense — which is led by quarterback Tyler Wilson and receiver Cobi Hamilton — to high standards.
It’s the reason he rated their performance during last Saturday’s scrimmage in Razorback Stadium with a simple “OK.” But when Petrino looked back on the performance after Monday’s practice, he didn’t think it was as bad as it sounded.
“Just watch the ones’ film,” Petrino said. “If you watched it, there would have been different headlines in the paper, to be honest with you.”
Petrino recapped the scrimmage work after Arkansas’ two practices, highlighting the first-team offense’s time on the field. While dropped passes and other mistakes led to missed chances on a few occasions, Petrino still thought the first-team offense produced after scoring five touchdowns on its 12 possessions Saturday.
“I thought the ones had 70 plays and they scored five touchdowns. So that’s 35 points,” Petrino said. “That’s a good day, but it’s not a great day. We expect great days. You know, if we don’t have a couple drops on third downs, then we’re in the 50s and that’s what we expect. That’s the way we should play.”
Wilson said the Razorbacks had a couple of errors on shotgun snaps and the offense was behind the chains much of the day. He also threw an interception, which was returned for a touchdown by linebacker Otha Peters. But he agreed with Petrino.
“When you iron everything out … I threw four touchdowns and we scored five, threw for a lot of yards and did a lot of good things,” Wilson said. “But my expectations aren’t that. They’re a lot better. So, not terrible, but we’ve got to be better. We’re used to being better.”
Petrino also said he were some good things accomplished by the third-team offense Saturday. He couldn’t say the same about the second-team group.
Petrino said the twos were “bad” and “disappointing.” They didn’t help second-team quarterback Brandon Allen. More drops played a role in the problems, setting up third-and-long situations for an offensive line overwhelmed by the defensive front.
Unoffically, Arkansas surrendered 12 sacks during the scrimmage and most of them came when the second-team offense was on the field.
“The first three plays, every one of them was right on the money: Drop, drop, drop,” Petrino said. “And they can’t do that to the second O-line. We’ve got to hit all those plays so that we’re always in third and short and third and medium with the twos.
“If we end up in third and long with the twos we’re going to be in big trouble.”
2. Fighting For Time
Petrino said two freshman receivers, Keon Hatcher and Mekale McKay, have distanced themselves from the rest of the new class in preseason camp. But that’s not all. They continue to compete with each other for snaps.
“There was an instance in this morning’s practice when I thought they were going to get into a fight with each other over who got to be in the huddle, because they try to be in there every single play and they’re always trying to get reps,” Petrino said.
Hatcher caught four passes for 41 yards during Saturday’s scrimmage. McKay caught one pass for 10 yards. The numbers weren’t gaudy, but the two have made an impression during practices throughout the preseason.
“That’s why those two players right there are going to be great players at this school,” Petrino said about the morning incident. “Just because of their attitude. Obviously they have talent, and they’re great players. But boy they just want to be in there, they want to get reps and they want to learn. That’s a good thing.”
3. Down Goes Davis
Arkansas running back Knile Davis still hasn’t been permitted to participate in full-contact scrimmages this preseason. But Davis did find himself on the ground, tripping over an offensive lineman after a rushing attempt Monday evening.
“I should’ve picked my feet up,” Davis said. That was my problem.”
Arkansas’ coaches haven’t elaborated on their plan for Davis in contact work this preseason. Davis said he hasn’t been let in on their thought process, either, but said he’s not losing patience as his wait for scrimmage work continues.
“I’m just waiting on the go-ahead,” Davis said. “Whenever he tells me I can go in I’m going to go. Whether that be in practice or the first game, I’m just ready to play.”
4. Personnel Report
WR Keante Minor left the afternoon workout with an injury. Minor was favoring his right shoulder as he walked to the locker room with the training staff. … LB Tenarius Wright shed the yellow, non-contact jersey and participated in more portions of Monday’s practices. Wright still watched while Otha Peters and Terrell Williams worked with the first-team defense during 11-on-11 drills. … LB Alonzo Highsmith was dressed out for the morning practice, but remained limited by a hamstring injury. He did not participate in the afternoon practice. … DT Byran Jones spent part of the morning practice working off to the side with the strength and conditioning staff because of an unknown injury. … S Eric Bennett remained sidelined Monday with a leg injury, which has limited him throughout the preseason.
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau