After signing autographs and posing for photos with several thousand fans, the Razorbacks took to the field Saturday for the final scrimmage of the fall. A week after the defense's impressive performance, the two units slugged it out for 135 snaps before an estimated crowd of 15,000 fans. For the public, it was the chance to get a final look at John L. Smith's 10th ranked Hogs before the opener against Jacksonville State, just under two weeks away.
The offense, seeking redemption from last weekend's lackluster performance, came out swinging. None swung harder and heavier than Cobi Hamilton (11 catches, 167 yards, 2 TD) who turned a 10 yard catch into a 65 yard touchdown as he evaded tacklers and sped down the sideline for the highlight of the night. Tyler Wilson also bounced back from a shaky scrimmage last week, going 22/37 for 255 yards and 3 scores.
Though the offense showed resilience, the defense once again played as a team, and displayed tenacity and aggression. After allowing scores on the first three series, the D forced 6 straight stops, registered 5 sacks, and pulled down a couple of interceptions. Hamilton's stats could have been more gaudy, but the secondary competed with receivers valiantly and consistently disrupted catches. The defensive line continued to assert its dominance over the offensive line, often applying pressure on the quarterbacks, and stuffing runs in the backfield, though with Knile Davis being held out of contact and Dennis Johnson's absence, the O-line's cause was not helped.
With Davis and Johnson out, Ronnie Wingo started the scrimmage, and after a shaky start, began running with a purpose and finished with 76 yards on 19 carries, and 4 catches for 35 yards. Freshman tailback Jonathan Williams continued to impress, carrying the ball 19 times for 115 yards and 2 touchdowns, he ended the scrimmage with a 24 yard scamper to score. Williams has shown a balance of vision, power, and speed this fall, and could see the field plenty this season. Speaking of the future, Brandon Allen looked spectacular finishing his day going 14/17 with 177 yards and 4 touchdowns. He connected on long bombs to freshman wideout Mekale McKay on a 30 yard touchdown (2 catches for 77 yards) and a 39 yard pass to tight end Austin Tate who made a diving catch just inside the pilon. Although the youngster looked promising, he was intercepted twice. Sophomore tight end Demetrius Dean put in a good day, hauling in 4 catches for 56 yards.
Tank Wright, Alonzo Highsmith, and Eric Bennett were all held out again, though all should be back next week. Sophomore receiver Keante Minor was held out with a moderate shoulder injury and Dennis Johnson was out of town tending to family matters. Saturday's scrimmage concluded the open practices of this preseason, the next time we see the Hogs in action will be September 1 in Razorback Stadium against Jacksonville State. Let the countdown continue.