FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas held a 93-play scrimmage in Razorback Stadium on Saturday.
Below are notes, observations, stats and injuries from the scrimmage, which was open to the media.
• Offensive star: WR Drew Morgan — The sophomore, who has been working with the starters, caught 6 passes for 117 yards and 2 touchdowns.
• Defensive star: LB Randy Ramsey — The freshman made the most of his first scrimmage, finishing with 3 tackles for losses and 2 sacks.
• Ball security was an issue for the offense in the early portions of the scrimmage. Fullback Kody Walker had the ball knocked out of his hands by Carroll Washington and it was recovered by Trey Flowers. Denzell Evans and Jeremy Sprinkle also had the ball jarred free, although none were ruled fumbles. All three had to run a lap and Bielema called his offense up to talk about it. Things got better the rest of the way.
• On the flip side of it, Bielema was thrilled about the defense’s ability to create turnovers during the scrimmage. It’s something Arkansas sorely lacked last season and has been an emphasis under defensive coordinator Robb Smith: “You hear our defensive players talk about it on every snap. They practice every day. … You can tell that it is a point of emphasis that carries over to the field.”
• Brandon Allen had some success with the deep ball, completing 43- and 41-yard passes to Drew Morgan and Keon Hatcher. Allen started slow, completing just 3 of his first 7 passes (including one to himself after a batted pass) before settling in. He was at his best during a redzone portion of practice, throwing both his touchdown passes to Morgan within a five-play stretch.
• Backup Austin Allen looked much more confident in running the second-team offense Saturday. Allen completed nine straight to start his scrimmage and only threw four incompletions during his work. Allen also jumped up to get some reps with the first-team offense later in the scrimmage. He went 5-for-7 for 44 yards during that stretch, which ended with Daunte Carr’s third-down sack.
• Arkansas’ defensive backs were able to make a few plays on the ball during the scrimmage, which stood out for one reason: the Razorbacks rarely made a play on the ball last season. Bielema has noticed: “I think our defensive back end made some nice plays on the ball, lot more big hits, lot more breaks on the ball, a lot more disruption in this first scrimmage than I probably saw all of last camp.”
• It was a little surprising earlier this week to hear Morgan was a first-team wide receiver, but he showed why Saturday. Bielema said Morgan reminds him of former Wisconsin receiver Jared Abbrederis, but quickly noted it wasn’t because both are “white wide receivers.: Bielema: “They have optimal speed but they have to catch everything. They have to be perfect on their routes. They have to understand the correct split. They’ve got to have great communication with their quarterbacks.”
• The biggest collision of the scrimmage came between fullback Patrick Arinze and safety Davyon McKinney. Arinze, who is 5-foot-10, 257 pounds, caught a pass out of the backfield and was in open space. He lowered his shoulder and collided with McKinney. The collision jarred the ball out of Arinze’s hands. Both players had to leave the scrimmage with injuries as well after the collision.
• A couple of freshmen stood out on Arkansas’ defense. Cornerback Henre’ Toliver, taking advantage of Tevin Mitchel’s injury, spent some time with the first-team defense and performed well considering it was his first week of camp. So did Ramsey, who was in the backfield a few times. Bielema said his goal this week was to find out who can play football. It appears Arkansas has identified a couple of newcomers who have a chance to contribute right away.
• Freshman Frank Ragnow had some quarterback-center exchange issues with Austin Allen. Two snaps ended up on the ground, while a third – a shotgun snap – nearly went over Allen’s head. Bielema said he couldn’t imagine being a true freshman doing what Ragnow is this preseason as he makes the adjustment to center. He thinks the experiment is going well, but added Arkansas has to make a decision on if he’s the best option as the second-team center at this point.
• That makes me wonder if UNLV transfer Cameron Jefferson will bump up to first-team left guard next week, while Luke Charpentier moves from left guard to center to compete with Mitch Smothers at the position. Bielema did say he is “extremely impressed” with Jefferson and he should have “an opportunity to be there” at LG.
Passing: Brandon Allen: 12 of 22, 191 yards, 2 TDs, Austin Allen: 16 of 20, 190 yards, Rafe Peavey: 7 of 10, 44 yards
Rushing: Korliss Marshall: 8 carries, 28 yards, Juan Day: 5 carries, 31 yards, Jonathan Williams: 4 carries, 18 yards, Denzell Evans, 4 carries, 10 yards, Kody Walker: 2 carries, 12 yards, Connor McPherson: 2 carries 7 yards
Receiving: Drew Morgan: 6 catches, 117 yards, 2 TDs, Jeremy Sprinkle: 5 catches, 26 yards, Jared Cornelius: 4 catches, 26 yards, Keon Hatcher: 3 catches, 65 yards, Alex Voelzke: 3 catches, 27 yards, Damon Mitchell: 2 catches, 48 yards, Hunter Henry: 2 catches, 40 yards, AJ Derby: 2 catches, 11 yards, Kendrick Edwards: 1 catch, 17 yards, Korliss Marshall: 1 catch, 12 yards, Patrick Arinze: 1 catch, 11 yards, Anthony Antwine: 1 catch, 11 yards, Kody Walker: 1 catch, 7 yards, Kohl Slaughter: 1 catch, 7 yards, Jonathan Williams: 1 catch, 0 yards
Leading Tacklers: Randy Ramsey 6, De’Andre Coley 6, Martrell Spaight 5, Rohan Gaines 5, Daunte Carr 5, Brooks Ellis 4, Alan Turner 4, Henre’ Toliver 3, Dwayne Eugene 3, Will Hines 3.
Tackles for loss: Randy Ramsey 3 (-22), Daunte Carr 2 (-19), TQ Coleman (-7), Armon Watts (-6), JaMichael Winston (-6), Karl Roesler (-5), Braylon Mitchell (-3).
Sacks: Daunte Carr 2 (-9), Randy Ramsey 2 (-12), Armon Watts (-6), JaMichael Winston (-6), Karl Roesler (-5)
Forced Fumble: Sleepy McKinney, Carroll Washington
Fumble Recovery: Randy Ramsey, Trey Flowers
Pass Break-ups: Alan Turner, Jared Collins, Rohan Gaines, Josh Liddell, Kevin Richardson
• Did not scrimmage: RB Alex Collins (groin), DB Santos Ramirez (calf), DT Bijhon Jackson (ankle), WR Jojo Robinson (hamstring), Tevin Mitchel (shoulder), DL Mitch Loewen (shoulder)
• Injured during scrimmage: RB Jonathan Williams (hamstring), FB Patrick Arinze (shoulder), LB Braylon Mitchell (heat), DT Demarcus Hodge (heat), DB Davyon McKinney (unspecified)