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Arkansas First Spring Scrimmage Recap

"We're a good football team. No ifs, ands or buts about it." - Bret Bielema on Saturday

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The Arkansas football team held its first spring scrimmage inside Razorback Stadium Saturday. It was closed to the public, but the media were invited to take it in.

After about 80 plays or so divided among the 1st, 2nd and 3rd string guys, here is what we can take away from the first live action of the spring:


We didn't really learn a whole lot from this group Saturday other than Austin Allen may have a slight leg up on the other quarterbacks for the backup job. Austin, according to unofficial stats from the ADG's Tom Murphy, went 7-8 for 147 yards and a pair of TDs. He looked good today had good zip on the ball.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p>Bielema: Austin Allen and Rafe really matching each other shot for shot for backup QB.</p>&mdash; Scottie Bordelon (@gsbordelon) <a href="">April 4, 2015</a></blockquote>

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Brandon Allen was 8-15 for 78 yards a pair of touchdown passes. He was the victim of a couple of drops by Hunter Henry of all people, and Jojo Robinson. Bielema continues to walk away from practices impressed with BA's growth. He made a couple of overthrows, but none of the quarterbacks turned the ball over, so that's a plus.

Running backs

Alex Collins was the bright spot, as expected, for this group in the scrimmage. He received 1st string carries and reeled off runs of 15, 16 and 17 yards to go along with a touchdown run in which he made at least half the defense miss. He was tough to bring down and ran the ball hard.

Jonathan Williams – also as expected – did not see any action in the scrimmage portion of practice. Instead, Kody Walker and Denzell Evans took 2nd and 3rd string reps out of the backfield. Here's what Bielema had to say about the No. 3 spot on the roster at the position:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p>Bielema says if season were to start today it’s fair to say Kody Walker is No. 3 RB, but wouldn’t count out Denzell Evans.</p>&mdash; Scottie Bordelon (@gsbordelon) <a href="">April 4, 2015</a></blockquote>

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Bielema also wouldn't rule out incoming freshman Rawleigh Williams III getting some action right away. He feels the freshman back is mature and physically ready enough to handle some touches immediately.


The star of the day from the receiving corps was Drew Morgan, who was the recipient of both of BA's touchdown passes. Morgan caught the first score from 22 yards out, battling Jared Collins for a ball that was up for grabs. His second score was a 10-yard grab on somewhat of a tunnel screen type of play.

I had Jared Cornelius with one catch for eight yards, Jojo Robinson with a catch for three yards (he also had a really nice run on a jet sweep in which he juked a defender, made him miss before trucking DeAndre Coley) and Eric Hawkins with a long 33-yard catch and run.

Keon Hatcher did not participate in the scrimmage because of a bruised knee he suffered in Thursday's practice. It's not anything serious and should be back in about a week.

Tight ends

Jeremy Sprinkle got the most work out of the tight ends Saturday. He caught a couple of passes for about 25 yards. Hunter Henry caught two passes as well for about 13 yards. I saw Will Gragg catch one pass before getting absolutely lit up by Randy Ramsey. He held on, but it was pretty vicious.

Also a bit of news came out about another tight end:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p>Bielema: Voelzke tweaked his back before spring break. Nothing serious. Should be back Tuesday.</p>&mdash; Andrew Hutchinson (@NWAHutch) <a href="">April 4, 2015</a></blockquote>

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Offensive line

Bielema had a lot of good things to say about his guys up front on both sides of the ball:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p>Bielema: I was pleased (with the shuffled OL). Mitch Smothers is our unsung hero. He’s competed and battled.</p>&mdash; Andrew Hutchinson (@NWAHutch) <a href="">April 4, 2015</a></blockquote>

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He also mentioned that he's as deep along the offensive and defensive lines as he's been since he's been at Arkansas. Dan Skipper, according to Bielema seems to be playing as good at right tackle as he ever did on the left side of the line. He's making the transition smoothly. Arkansas' offensive line is going to be scary good. They're just a bunch of monsters up front.

Defensive line

I didn't keep track of any defensive stats, but I've noticed that Arkansas has the chance to be really good up front. It may not be this year that they terrorize backfields, but the potential is there. Along the line – first string – Bielema had Deatrich Wise, Taiwan Johnson, Bihjon Jackson and JaMichael Winston, which I really like.

But Robb Smith has a number of young, talented guys he can plug in, too. Bielema says he thinks he can run as many as eight guys on the defensive line. He's that happy with his depth:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p>Bielema: Both Hjalte Froholdt and Jeremiah Ledbetter are going to be able to help us--maybe even start.</p>&mdash; Bo Mattingly (@SportsTalkwBo) <a href="">April 4, 2015</a></blockquote>

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Rest of the defense and special teams

From what I saw, I'm pretty positive Brooks Ellis led the way in tackles. He's the leader of the linebackers now that Martrell Spaight is gone and he seems to be stepping up and doing well.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p>Bielema: We played <a href="">@brooksellis51</a> at MLB out of necessity but always wanted to move him outside. Brooks has really bought into the position.</p>&mdash; Razorback Football  (@RazorbackFB) <a href="">April 4, 2015</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p>Santos Ramirez and Josh Liddell look the part at safety.  Ledbetter and Froholdt look ready to play.</p>&mdash; Bo Mattingly (@SportsTalkwBo) <a href="">April 4, 2015</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p>Bielema: Adam McFain is the No. 1 kicker so far. Lane Saling and Cole Hedlund are going back and forth for No. 2.</p>&mdash; Andrew Hutchinson (@NWAHutch) <a href="">April 4, 2015</a></blockquote>

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Other notes

Defensive end Anthony Brown has been suspended for the remainder of spring and may not rejoin the team in the fall, Bielema said. He also said the door is "slightly open" for Kendrick Edwards to come back.

Next weekend's scrimmage will be open to the public. Bielema says it will be the biggest scrimmage of the spring other than the Red-White game April 25.

Also, take all 1,100 words of this with a grain of salt. A lot is going to change between now and the spring game in three weeks.