FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas’ offense turned in a handful of big plays during last Saturday’s 101-play scrimmage in Razorback Stadium. But offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said the passing game improvement also came with some protection issues.
He added the blame didn’t fall solely on the offensive line, either.
“We had issues where the quarterback gave up a few sacks on his own,” Chaney said. “The wide receiver ran the wrong route and gave us a sack that way. We didn’t protect the quarterback for a lot of reasons. We didn’t have a hot (read) here. We didn’t have a protection call there. So I walk out of there thinking there’s a lot of good with that practice, but the protection of the quarterback has to get better.”
Quarterbacks were off limits to contact during the scrimmage. But the Razorbacks blew the whistle and credited defensive players with sacks when they got a hand on the quarterback. Arkansas’ defense was credited with 11 sacks in the scrimmage.
Offensive line coach Sam Pittman credited the defense for its performance.
“They’ve got some nice things they’re doing,” Pittman said. “Their blitz package is intriguing. Obviously we have to work on it more. We’re working on situations and putting our guys in the hardest situations that they possibly can be in. When you’re going third down, and you’re going six in a row, third and 10, third and 12, third and 8, they’re going to rush the passer, and they know how. We have to get better that.”
Pittman said the first-team offensive line — which includes tackles Dan Skipper and Brey Cook, guards Denver Kirkland and Mitch Smothers, and center Luke Charpentier — were responsible for five of the sacks Saturday. Pittman pointed out Arkansas allowed eight in 2013, so the group has “some work to do.”
“I think we’ll get it handled,” Pittman said. “I think we’ve got the guys that can do it. But we’ve got to get that done.”
2. Allen’s Scrimmage
Quarterback Brandon Allen’s experience showed during the scrimmage, completing 17 of 20 passes for 247 yards with a touchdown and interception. But the junior said it was just a starting point for the rest of the spring for Arkansas’ offense.
“There’s definitely some things we can improve on,” Allen said. “I thought it was a bit of improvement from our first scrimmage last year. There are definitely some things we need to work on, but as a whole it can get better. But it wasn’t terrible.”
Chaney said Arkansas has made it a point to move slowly as an offense this spring and believes it is benefitting everyone. That includes Allen.
“It’s been a lot of fun to have more time to talk to them and get to know the guys better,” Chaney said. “They’re more open and more honest about things they’re not understanding right now as we move through things. It’s been fun. I’ve enjoyed every minute with (Allen) and I think he’s getting better by the day.”
3. Marshall Update
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said last Saturday that running back Korliss Marshall missed the scrimmage because of an unspecified medical issue that needed “further testing.” Chaney said he didn’t know the details either, but Marshall was back working on a limited basis during Tuesday’s practice.
“I just saw him out there,” Chaney said. “He had a green (non-contact) shirt on. I stay out of all the medical stuff. He wasn’t out there full-going with everybody, but he was on the field moving around. So that was good.”
Chaney also indicated wide receiver Eric Hawkins, who missed Saturday’s scrimmage because of a head injury, also returned to practice Tuesday.
4. Getting Bigger
One of tight end Jeremy Sprinkle’s biggest goals was to gain weight in the offseason.
The sophomore has accomplished it, weighing in at 237 pounds to start the spring.
“I’ve gained about 35 pounds since I’ve been here and I gained 15 of them this offseason,” Sprinkle said. “When you gain that much that quick it takes you some time to get used to it with your body, but I’ve kept my speed and gained strength. It’s helping me on the field get more time.”
Sprinkle, who caught three passes for 73 yards during Saturday’s scrimmage, said he’s not done trying to gain weight before the 2014 season.
“I need to pick up about 10 or 12 more pounds,” Sprinkle said.
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau