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Arkansas Razorbacks Spring Practice Scrimmage Report - April 5th

The Razorbacks held their first public scrimmage of the spring Saturday at Razorback Stadium

Jared Cornelius catching passes at Arkansas' scrimmage on April 5th, 2014
Jared Cornelius catching passes at Arkansas' scrimmage on April 5th, 2014
Doc Harper

Arkansas began the practice doing basic drills, then began the scrimmage by spending a lot of time just running plays from the 33-yard line. They followed that up with some punting practice before finally doing a full scrimmage in which they moved the ball up and down the field.

Here's a full collection of offensive stats.

Bielema said there is no truth to the rumors about Alex Collins transferring or being suspended for a game. He said Collins has responded very well from the weeklong suspension in February.

D'Arthur Cowan's academic situation is improving and Bielema said he may be back with the team in a week or so, but it's not certain yet.

Bielema also noted Brey Cook has had a good spring and Mitch Smothers has been better than expected, despite a couple of penalties today.

There was a bit of a scuffle early in the practice, and Dan Skipper had to be pulled to the sideline for throwing punches. Who'd want to get in a fight with the 6'10" giant is beyond me. Bielema also noted that Skipper is a really smart guy, but throwing punches gets you kicked out of games and punching at a face mask doesn't make any sense anyway.

Here are my takeaways from the scrimmage.

Brandon Allen is still clearly the #1 quarterback. He was 17-for-20 for 247 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Some of those were excellent throws into tight spots, some were spectacular catches by the receivers, and sometimes - particularly in the middle of practice when it seemed the defense might be tiring - the receivers seemed to be getting open pretty easily.

There were also very few real deep balls. Many of the passes that went for big yards were short or intermediate passes when the receiver was able to break free and run for extra yards. That goes for the entire practice, not just Allen's plays.

At one point Allen threw a great pass that hit Hunter Henry in stride down the middle that Henry ran all the way for a touchdown, and Bielema was visibly upset with the defense afterward, exclaiming "when the ball is thrown, everybody run to the ball!" He seemed to think there was too much standing around and not enough aggression.

His lone interception was on his last pass of the day and Alan Turner made a very athletic play to come down with the ball before falling out of bounds. It was a flat circle situation as Allen's first pass of the day was an ugly overthrow on a short pass to Keon Hatcher. In between, however, he looked all right.

AJ Derby doesn't look like the AJ Derby we all remember and tried to forget. Much better. Much more confident. Seems much more comfortable. It's not hard to see why he's still the #2 quarterback, even if Austin Allen may very well take the spot from him. Derby was 8-for-13 for 145 yards and a touchdown with one interception. Allen was 5-for-10 for 69 yards.

Damon Mitchell is obviously a great athlete. He scrambled a few times for what could have been big gains. He has good speed, which is already leading many to wonder how long he'll remain at quarterback. The thing is, I wouldn't say he's a bad quarterback, but still seems pretty raw. It'll be interesting to see what happens with him.

Rafe Peavey looks fine but only attempted three passes. It certainly seems like he'd be redshirting if the season started today, but there's a lot of time between now and the end of August.

I thought the receivers looks really good. It's easy to see why the coaches have raved about Jared Cornelius since practices began. He seemed faster and his cuts were crisper than most of the other players. He was able to get separation from his defenders. He was also working at punt returner, although there were no live punt returns today. I expect we'll be seeing quite a bit of him.

But he's not alone. Drew Morgan, Cody Hollister, and Jeremy Sprinkle all looked good. Walk-on Kendrick Payne had a very impressive catch while falling out of bounds on one of the deeper balls thrown all day. Morgan had the biggest day, stat-wise with five catches for 109 yards. Demetrius Wilson was among the players who didn't scrimmage today because he's not yet 100% from his knee injury, but is practicing.

I think the Hogs have a chance to be really improved at receiver compared to last year, especially if Jojo Robinson or any of the other incoming freshmen can contribute immediately.

The defense was doing a good job of collapsing the pocket and keeping the run game in check. Of course, there were no actual sacks because it was a practice and all the quarterbacks wore green jerseys, but the whistles did blow in the backfield pretty frequently, and none of the running backs were able to get free. Denzell Evans had the best day, gaining 53 yards on eight carries. Alex Collins was able to get free for a big gain once, but was still held to 38 yards on eight carries.

Jonathan Williams took just five carries. Bielema said Williams won't see too much live action this spring, although the running back position was more thin than usual with Korliss Marshall unable to play due to an unknown injury or ailment. Bielema said they're not yet certain what Marshall's status is.

Trey Flowers is not going to be scrimmaging this spring. He is practicing but is being held out from too much contact this spring. Deatrich Wise drew a lot of praise from Bielema afterward.

There were more penalties than Bielema liked. He was clearly angry about that. Each time an offensive player caused a false start they were removed from the field and did pushups on the sideline.

The scrimmage ended on a vicious hit by DeAndre Coley. Bielema said afterward, "that was a little Miami coming from him."