Biggest SOOIE!: Korliss Marshall - Everyone knows running back is Arkansas' most loaded position, and if you've been paying attention to practice reports, you already knew that coaches felt Marshall was so great at running back that they just couldn't put him at safety.
Today, we all saw why. There were flashes of it last season in a limited role, but it was on full display this afternoon.
The Red Team offense wasn't moving at all in the first couple of possessions, but when Marshall was installed on the third, he ran for six yards on first down and 19 on second, sparking some real energy into the game and setting the team up for the first touchdown of the game, which Jonathan Williams earned later in the drive after some tough running of his own.
But Marshall wasn't done. He zipped through the defense for a 59-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, and scored his second touchdown on an 8-yard run in the third, cutting through the defense to power his way across the goal line. He finished with 99 yards on just six carries.
Biggest "As Advertised": The Razorback running game - With the 1s playing against "the world" it should be expected that they'd be able to dominate with the best players, and that's what happened. The Red Team racked up 202 yards on the ground (the stat sheet says 252 but 50 of those came on Canaan Sandy's moment in the second half) and most of the best drives of the day came on drives when they busted a big play.
Marshall and Williams earned the bulk of the yards with 177 of them. Alex Collins only ran 4 times for 12 yards, but his biggest run of the day was called back for holding.
Brandon Allen also gained 13 yards on three carries, or something close to that considering he was wearing a green jersey and couldn't be tackled. Which leads us to...
Biggest "Other than major injuries, that's the worst thing that could possibly happen": Brandon Allen's pick on the first play of the game. I mean, that's some Shakespearean tragedy stuff. It's not like he hasn't thrown interceptions this spring, but he really has looked better. And to come out in the game on the first play and throw an interception is just, dang man.
It never got better in the first half. He was 5-11 for 21 yards with two interceptions at the break OH THE HORROR.
Allen did get it together in the second half, going 7-10 for 87 yards and a touchdown. That's the Brandon Arkansas can roll with.
Biggest thing we'll unnecessarily hear about on talk radio and message boards all summer: If feels like there should be a quarterback controversy, and fans will likely harp on it all summer, but Bielema did his best to reiterate that this is Brandon Allen's team after the game. "Both of them are a long ways away from being SEC ready," he said about both Austin Allen and Rafe Peavey. Both of the backups had their moments. Austin Allen in particular threw a pair of gorgeous passes down the left side of the field for touchdowns, one to Eric Hawkins and the other to Cody Hollister.
It was good to see Austin come back from what was truly a horrid pair of plays in the second half immediately following Marshall's 59-yard run. He threw a pick-six to Rohan Gaines, and then was stripped by Deatrich Wise on the very next play. Darius Philon then picked up the ball and returned it for a touchdown.
Peavey made some nice passes but also showed a tendency to hold on to the ball for too long and get sacked. Speaking of which...
Biggest "Wait, Arkansas' NOT playing their best players on defense?!": Trey Flowers wasn't playing, but the Red Team defensive line still had a fantastic day, led by Deatrich Wise. Wise led the team with five sacks among his eight total tackles. There were nine sacks in all for the Red Team, with Philon, Brandon Lewis, DeMarcus Hodge, and linebacker Brooks Ellis all getting one of their own.
And the leading tacklers were - WAIT FOR IT - linebackers! Both Martrell Spaight and Brooks Ellis led everybody with nine tackles each.
But it wasn't all so great. On Austin Allen's first big touchdown pass, a strike to Eric Hawkins streaking down the sideline, defensive coordinator Robb Smith was apparently very upset. Remember, it was the Red Team defense that allowed the play. It was the last play before halftime, and Smith went into the locker room, where he was "very animated" about the play.
Biggest "I really hope Will Gragg was paying attention" plays: The highly publicized tight ends started getting more involved in the second half. Hunter Henry caught two passes for 11 yards. Henry broke free at one point and was racing toward the end zone but unfortunately Brandon Allen threw the ball just beyond Henry's reach. Alex Voelzke caught a pass. The Hogs went deep to AJ Derby in the end zone early in the game but he was well defended and couldn't bring in what would have been the catch of the day.
Biggest "let's really try to keep him happy so he won't leave": Damon Mitchell was given the ball pretty frequently at the beginning of the game, and finished tied for third on the whole team with three catches, and he returned punts. He gained 27 yards on his three catches, but couldn't handle a tremendous punt by Sam Irwin-Hill that ended up going for 85 yards after Marshall bobbled it into the end zone. But it was good to get Mitchell involved. Now that spring practice is over we have to wait and see what he decides to do.
Biggest whatever: The kicking contests between quarters was less interesting than last year because the Razorbacks are expecting incoming freshman Cole Hedlund to be the kicker next season, and he's not in school yet and couldn't participate. Plus, they counted the kicks in the final score, skewing the results. (The Red Team offense didn't actually score 61 points, BUT IT LOOKS GREAT!). Here's Hedlund's highlight video to satiate you through the summer:
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