Four Downs: Offense Turns in Turnover-Free Practice


1. No Turnovers: Arkansas’ offense managed to stay turnover free during Thursday’s practice.

Quarterback Brandon Allen said it was a good sign, especially after the Razorbacks had some turnover trouble during last Saturday’s scrimmage in Razorback Stadium.

“You can have a great practice and all it takes is one fumble or one interception and it kind of makes you feel like you had a bad practice,” Allen said. “So I think any time you can go a whole practice and not have one turnover, it makes you feel like you had a good practice and you come off the field feeling good.”

The Razorbacks turned the ball over 23 times, which was tied with Vanderbilt for 12th in the SEC. Only Tennessee (24) turned the ball over more than Arkansas.

So cutting down on turnovers has been a big emphasis for an offense that squandered numerous opportunities last season because of costly mistakes.

“We go to meetings every day and (offensive coordinator Jim) Chaney has this presentation put up,” Arkansas receiver Drew Morgan said. “There is a ball inside a little box and it has a lock on it and it says ‘Ball security’ and that’s what we preach.”

Arkansas wants the improved ball security to continue today and Saturday, when the Razorbacks hold their second preseason scrimmage in Razorback Stadium.

“I think we had four turnovers in the last scrimmage,” Allen said. “We really want to get that number down. Zero fumbles. No interceptions. So any time you can have ball security like that we’re going to be tough to beat.”

2. Morgan on the Skirmish: Morgan and cornerback Carroll Washington were involved in a skirmish at the end of Wednesday night’s practice. The former Greenwood High star spoke about the camp battle after Thursday’s practice.

“If you haven’t gotten in a fight in a football game or a football practice, then you aren’t showing mental or physical toughness,” Morgan said. “I apologized for it. But it happens. It’s football.”

Arkansas coach Bret Bielema ejected both players from the rest of practice, but was disappointed for only one reason. The fight was in the middle of Arkansas’ two-minute work, disrupting an important part of the practice.

“Drew knew it was wrong,” Arkansas receivers coach Michael Smith said. “After he settled down, he apologized to coach and myself for it and we moved on.”

Morgan did reveal he and Washington had to participate in a mandatory workout late Wednesday night. But both players made amends for their practice battle.

“We’re just offense vs. defense trying to compete,” Morgan said.

3. Carry the Weight: Arkansas running back Alex Collins said he feels much more comfortable at 218 pounds this preseason after struggling with 14-pounds of added weight in the spring.

“It’s working good. I still feel fresh. I’m still moving around pretty quick,” Collins said. “I’m not getting as tired as I used to be like before when I first got it, so it feels good to just be running around, flying around out there.”

Collins said he was worried about losing a step with the added weight, but said there’s no concern now. In fact, he sees the benefit of a bigger frame.

“I feel heavy going downhill, hitting those holes,” Collins said. “I feel like I’m breaking through a lot more arm tackles. It feels good to be a little bit heavier and still be able to move with it.”

4. Extra Points

• Arkansas has no question about its tailbacks. But the Razorbacks continue to search for the right fullback to replace Kiero Small. Running backs coach Joel Thomas said the position remains “open right now” and Arkansas is still “playing around” with different options this week. It doesn’t help that two candidates, Kody Walker and Tyler Colquitt, have been limited because of injuries this week.

• Former Arkansas linebacker Otha Peters said via Twitter he plans to transfer to Louisiana-Lafayette. Peters left the Razorbacks earlier this week. He’ll have to sit out the 2014 season, but will have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2015.

• Saturday’s scrimmage is open to the public and is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. in Razorback Stadium. The Razorbacks also will hold their Fan Day festivities on Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in Bud Walton Arena.

— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau