Takeaways from Arkansas' 2nd scrimmage
The practice was either 99/100/101 plays, depending on who was keeping track. Here's the full list of stats.
Yes, it says Brandon Allen threw five touchdowns but just 157 yards. Seem strange? That's ok. The whole practice wasn't a full scrimmage. They spent one period of the practice just doing red zone work, and that's where most of the scoring came from. It's artificially skewed toward the sexy numbers a little bit.
As we mentioned after Thursday's practice, the quarterback situation is much more clear now. Brandon Allen is the clear starter, and if that wasn't clear during practice, Bret Bielema was pretty adamant about it after the scrimmage was over. He even said, "there's no one in our program that can challenge him." Read into that what you will.
The Razorbacks did do another period of third-and-short situations from the offense's 32-yard line, so they were kept out of scoring situations during that time.
Brandon Allen was pretty clearly the best quarterback in the full scrimmage when the teams were moving the ball up the field. He looked the most poised in the pocket and his experience was coming through. Both Austin Allen and Rafe Peavey have more room to grow in that regard, but with fewer people stuffing the quarterback depth chart, both should get more practice time going forward.
I thought Kody Walker had a big day. The big running back rushed for 43 yards on nine carries with two touchdowns. Both his touchdowns came in the red zone portion of practice, but both were impressive. On the first touchdown, Walker was running toward the left pylon and put down poor Jared Collins (bless his heart) with a big stiff-arm that allowed Walker to easily run into the end zone. The other came on a play in which Austin Allen fumbled a snap, but recovered and handed the ball off to Walker, who ran around the right side and bulldozed his way in for a touchdown.
Beyond those two plays, Walker had a big 19-yard run up the middle that allowed him to showcase his athleticism, and plowed through the defensive line on a 4th-and-1 for a two yard gain. Walker's day was flex-worthy.
Alex Collins had a very similar scrimmage to last week. Most of his runs didn't do a whole lot, but broke free on a late run for a big gain. On one play, Collins had a great block in pass protection that allowed Brandon Allen enough time to throw a touchdown pass to Jeremy Sprinkle in the corner of the end zone. Denzell Evans continues to look pretty good, much better than most would probably expect.
The receivers had a good day. Keon Hatcher led the team with five catches for 38 yards and scored one touchdown during the red zone portion of practice. Jared Cornelius had four catches for 29 yards and continues to look impressive. Fellow newcomer Cody Hollister, who has done very well all spring, did not catch a pass on Saturday. Brandon Allen tried to hit him deep twice but they didn't connect either time. I still think this will be an exciting unit when they're fully together this fall.
D'Arthur Cowan looked good and quick in his first scrimmage of the fall. He took a screen pass on the right and broke through to the middle before escaping to the right before Tevin Mitchel made a touchdown-saving tackle close to the end zone.
Hunter Henry and Jeremy Sprinkle didn't have as big a day as they had last weekend, but the bigger story is the emergence of AJ Derby at the position. Bielema said Derby's been extremely happy since making the move, and has played very well. Derby scored a touchdown in the scrimmage today, but also dropped a sure touchdown when he broke free from the defense on a play action and was streaking down the right sideline. The pass hit him perfectly but he couldn't hold on. "Classic Derby" chuckled all the fans (joke....kinda).
Interesting note though, that was pretty much the only time a receiver escaped from the defense all day.
Damon Mitchell isn't being quite as receptive to trying out new positions, according to Bielema. Bielema said after practice he thought Mitchell would make a fantastic safety, but they're trying him out at other offensive positions for now. He played both at receiver and running back this week. Bielema said it's not necessarily a permanent move as of right now, but they'll continue evaluating, and if they need to move Mitchell to a new position and he remains unhappy with it, they'd help him find a new school where he could presumably play quarterback, but Bielema reiterated they really want him to stay at Arkansas.
I thought the defensive line outplayed the offensive line overall. None of the running backs were able to clear 50 yards. There were still several sacks and tackles for loss. That of course can be good or bad depending on your point of view. And remember, Trey Flowers isn't scrimmaging this spring.
Bielema praised the cornerbacks afterward, particularly Tiquention Coleman and Carroll Washington. Those were two juco newcomers last season who didn't really contribute much, but it appears they could both have decent senior seasons. Coleman intercepted Peavey during the scrimmage Bielema said the cornerbacks were the most improved unit on the team this spring.
Bielema said afterward Horace Arkadie has been indefinitely suspended. No other details about that. Korliss Marshall is still not cleared. Bielema wouldn't elaborate on what's wrong with him, but said he's got a doctor's appointment early this week and expects him back shortly thereafter.
Arkansas will begin using some of their practices specifically for Auburn and Texas Tech situations this week (no special packages for Nicholls State, apparently).
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