Razorbacks play turnover-free scrimmage

Razorbacks play turnover-free scrimmage


Razorbacks play turnover-free scrimmage


Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen (10) hands off to running back Alex Collins (3) during the first half against Missouri at Faurot Field. Collins rushed 10 times for 70 yards in a scrimmage on Saturday.

Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen (10) hands off to running back Alex Collins (3) during the first half against Missouri at Faurot Field. Collins rushed 10 times for 70 yards in a scrimmage on Saturday.

Despite turnover on his offensive staff — or perhaps in part because of it — Bret Bielema saw no turnovers committed by the offense Saturday during the Arkansas Razorbacks’ first full-scale scrimmage of spring drills.

Bielema oversaw an 82-play scrimmage at Reynolds Razorbacks Stadium, pitting the No. 1 offense vs. No. 1 offense and the twos against twos and threes against threes, mostly from the 35- to 40-yard lines and some red zone work inside the 25.

Asked if he was surprised the Hogs went 82 plays without an interception or a fumble, Bielema gave credit to new offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Dan Enos and new running backs coach Jemal Singleton.

“Was I surprised?” Bielema said repeating the question.

“No. I’m very, very happy. Jemal Singleton, one of the great things I heard before I even met him was about his ball security. I’ve let him kind of school the offense overall about certain things. We have a ball security circuit where everybody goes through his situation. I think I might even able to hold onto the football if I was coached by him.”

Bielema praised Enos’ work with senior starting quarterback Brandon Allen and the three young ones battling to to be his backup, sophomore Austin Allen, nominally backing up his brother as a redshirt freshman last year and playing much of the second half against Ole Miss when Brandon was injured, redshirt freshman Rafe Peavey and January enrolled freshman Ty Storey.

Brandon Allen completed 8 of 15 passes for 78 yards and two touchdowns to sophomore wide receiver Drew Morgan.

Austin Allen completed 7 of 8 for 147 yards and touchdowns to receivers Eric Hawkins and Luke Rossi.

With leading returning receiver, senior Keon Hatcher, sidelined for a week or two by bruised knee during Thursday’s practice, Bielema was looking for some wideouts to step out of the shadows.

Hawkins and Morgan both stepped up Saturday.

A fourth-year junior — inherited from the Bobby Petrino regime and known more as a Razorbacks track sprinter than football wideout — Hawkins totaled 108 yards off three catches Saturday, including the 32-yard touchdown when he cut by a defender and took off like Road Runner leaving Wile E. Coyote in vain pursuit.

“You know he ran track,” Bielema said of Hawkins’ speed prompting patience with his development. “We knew he could run. In this day and age when you don’t play as a freshman or sophomore, everybody is like, ‘Well, what’s wrong?’ He is getting ready to be a junior and I think he has got to continue to grow. He caught the ball well. We obviously need players to step up at that position so I couldn’t be happier for him.”

Morgan caught 10 passes for 181 yards last year. Saturday, he caught three for 49 with the two touchdowns, especially impressing with the leaping grab of Brandon Allen’s 22-yard, down-the-middle TD strike.

Bielema said he had been on Morgan’s case for the three practices before spring break and that he responded, especially in Hatcher’s absence.

“He had a coming to reality and has performed very well coming out of spring break,” Bielema said. “He’s got great hands. He’s intelligent. he doesn’t lack any confidence. If anything he’s a little bit too confident at times. I’m excited to see where he goes.”

With junior running back Alex Collins healed from an appendectomy and senior running back Jonathan Williams withheld from spring scrimmaging, Collins was summoned for 10 carries Saturday and netted 70 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown run.

“I grabbed Alex this morning and said, ‘Hey, you are going to scrimmage today and you are going to scrimmage next Saturday, and we are going to make a determination of where you are at,” Bielema said. “He got a little heavy on spring break. But, after I saw him make that (22-yard touchdown) run I didn’t need to see much more. He has probably responded very to Jemal as well as I could have hoped.”

Collins had another run where it seemed he carried the pile some 5 to 10 yards but which disturbed defensive coordinator Robb Smith more than Bielema because the spring handicap placed on the defense trying to reduce intrasquad injuries.

“Robb goes, ‘Man, our tackling sucked!’ ” Bielema said. “A couple of those were against Alex who I think is a very good running back and I couldn’t be happier.. We’re putting our defense at a disadvantage as well. We’re not allowing any tackles below the belt line. So, I think a lot of those missed tackles would have been eradicated if we were allowing to cut tackle and go low on those guys.”

Arkansas’ starting Mike middle linebacker the last two years, junior Brooks Ellis’ move to weakside Will linebacker seems to pick up where graduated Will ‘backer Martrell Spaight left off. Spaight led the SEC in tackles last year. Ellis on Saturday led the first-team with 10 tackles all over the field, one for a 10-yard sack.

“We played Brooksie at Mike. Really the last two years out of necessity because we really didn’t have anybody at that spot,” Bielema said. “But I’ve always thought really he’s kind of more of an edge player. We moved him to Will in January and he’s been a non-stop bookworm up in the offices. He made a play on a toss play to the left where he ducked under a block and came out the backside and still made the play against Alex. Any time you show that type of versatility, gets you pretty excited.”

Walk-on linebacker Josh Harris led the backups and all tacklers with 11. Harris and freshman defensive linemen Hjalte Froholdt and Armon Watts all made two tackles behind the line.

Bielema announced sophomore defensive end Anthony Brown of Miami, Fla. is removed from the football team.

“He won’t be with us at all this spring,” Bielema said. “How he handles the things that I put in front of him for the rest of this spring will determine if he’s with us ever again.”

Bielema set a similar scenario for suspended receiver Kendrick Edwards.

Although redshirt freshman Cole Hedlund had nationally glittering prep credentials, sophomore Adam McFain place-kicked first team Saturday, as he did coming on last season.

“If McFain continues to hit it like he has, he’s going to be very hard to beat out,” Bielema said.

Bielema said next Saturday’s scrimmage will be open to the public.


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Razorbacks play turnover-free scrimmage

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