The Razorbacks completed a 121-play scrimmage on a hot Saturday afternoon in Fayetteville, their first full scrimmage of camp.
And the first thing people will probably be talking about this week is that Brandon Allen didn't play very well. According to Bret Bielema after the scrimmage, Allen has had a good camp so far and played better in earlier practices, but things weren't clicking for him in today's scrimmage.
According to various media outlets keeping unofficial stats, Allen completed 10 out of somewhere between 22 and 24 passes with one interception and no touchdowns. Some of the incompletions were a result of the defense playing well and some were simply bad throws. For instance, early in the scrimmage, Allen lowballed a pass in the flat to Jeremy Sprinkle, and once had JoJo Robinson open over the middle but threw it slightly behind him (and let's put it this way, if you can get JoJo Robinson open over the middle, you really need to hit JoJo Robinson open over the middle). I don't think he attempted a deep ball.
It should be noted that Keon Hatcher didn't play because of a bruised shoulder and Hunter Henry saw limited action. Bielema credited the defensive line after the practice with making Allen uncomfortable. According to him, the defensive line has been "the story of camp" so far (they had 6 "sacks" today). He said they spend so much time focusing on not hitting the quarterbacks in the green jerseys that this was one of the first times they got so close in Allen's space and it caused Allen to be off.
The debate between Allen playing poorly and the defense playing well will likely continue for a while. That's the maddening thing about football practices. It's often difficult to tell whether we should blame or praise one side or the other. I'm not hitting the panic button yet, but you certainly like to hope the bad passes will get corrected quickly.
There were a few big plays. Freshman running back Rawleigh Williams had the longest play with a 63-yard touchdown run around the left side. He ended with over 100 yards and looks like he'll get some playing time this year. Alex Collins also had a big run late in the scrimmage that went 43 yards for a touchdown. Many have said he's trimmed up and is faster this season and it certainly appeared that way on the long run. He also showed his power early on when he dragged several defenders a few yards up the field on a run that drew a nice reaction from the fans.
Jared Cornelius had a nice scrimmage and ran well after catching the ball. He caught a short pass from Allen and his defender fell down, allowing him to run about 40 yards up the field. Austin Allen tried to throw a deep ball to Dominique Reed, and Reed appeared to make the difficult leaping catch but not before he landed out of bounds, ruling it incomplete. Reed did catch a few balls and his much-discussed speed was on full display when he caught a pass over the middle and nearly outran the secondary to break free but was pulled down. Austin also threw a good pass to Robinson in space late in the scrimmage. Robinson easily shook his defender to break free and run for the score.
The biggest play for the defense was made by freshman cornerback Ryan Pulley. Austin Allen threw a short pass to the sideline but it sailed on him and Pulley picked it off and easily ran the ball back for the pick-6. Bielema praised Pulley and the cornerbacks afterward, saying they now go 5-deep at the position with Jared Collins, D.J. Dean, Henre' Toliver, Cornelius Floyd, and Pulley.
The defense was so good that when the team went into red zone drills, they didn't allow a touchdown. These are the drives that start just behind the 20-yard line and is typically in the past when most players rack up their touchdowns in practice. Not today. They also forced a fumble from Jonathan Williams when safety Santos Ramirez was able to get a good hit on him. The only touchdowns today came on aforementioned big plays and a Kody Walker punch-in late in the game to cap a nice drive.
It should be noted that all the field goals were made. Cole Hedlund was playing with the 1s today. We'll see if that continues. Remember, Adam McFain, who was the starting kicker late in the season last year, suffered a minor injury playing frisbee golf, leading Bielema to ban frisbee golf from the team. McFain did play and made one field goal in the live scrimmage portion of the day.
Also of note, lots of people wanted to see more screen passes with new offensive coordinator Dan Enos, and there were a few today but it seemed like all of them were blown up. Reed caught one and went four yards but at least a couple others both ended up behind the line of scrimmage.