And with that, spring football 2016 has mercifully come to an end.
The Red-White Game came and went without causing many ripples. It was the smallest crowd the Hogs have drawn for the spring game in a few years, and for good reason. Despite the preview of a new quarterback, there were several key players unavailable or, in the case of Drew Morgan and Rawleigh Williams III, were wearing green jerseys so they couldn't be hit.
I will say this about Williams, however. On his five carries, he looked pretty good. He showed nice quickness on a play that looked like a long touchdown run but was whistled down after an 8-yard gain. Of course, we'll have to wait and see how he's able to psychologically handle being in a contact situation again, but in terms of his athleticism, he seems be very much on track to return this fall.
In addition to the missing players and green jerseys, the game was set up so that the starters on both offense and defense played against the second team. There was no starter vs starter action, so any stats from today should really be taken into that context. It's not that there's no value to them, but basically it's designed to let the starters dominate, and they did for the most part.
The starting offense racked up 323 yards and the defense allowed only 49. Austin Allen didn't have to do to much. He did throw a nice long ball to Cody Hollister, who was in position to catch it until he was interfered with. Allen's best play was probably when he fumbled the snap, but was able to recover it and throw a sharp 27-yard dart to Keon Hatcher down the middle that nearly crossed the goal line. Hatcher was ruled down at the one, but Denzell Evans was able to punch in the touchdown on the next play.
In case you were wondering, Jeremy Sprinkle is still open in the flat. That's been the case for about two years running and there's no indication it's about to stop. It's there for the Hogs anytime they want.
I've gotten a lot of questions about the secondary throughout spring practice. The general consensus is that they looked pretty good out there today. There were no interceptions, but Willie Sykes did have a nice pass breakup on a similar long pass from Allen to Hatcher that was exactly the type of play the Hogs gave up for touchdowns last year, so that was nice to see. Sykes had two breakups today and Dwayne Eugene had another.
Deatrich Wise and Jeremiah Ledbetter each had two "sacks". Wise only played for part of the game, which has been the norm for him throughout spring. Not because he's hurt, but because he's been so dominant. There were nine sacks in all between both teams. True freshman McTelvin Agim had one of them and made three tackles in all. He played on the second-string team, but it's hard to see him staying there for too long.
The only turnover came on a play that should have been a touchdown. Hatcher caught a pass from Allen and was running down the sideline, but was hit while reaching for the goal line and fumbled the ball through the end zone for a touchback. It's a fluky play, but one that has cost Arkansas before. Hopefully we won't see that again.
The field goal game is still inconsistent at best, horrendous at worst. Cole Hedlund and Adam McFain combined to go 13-for-21 on the day. Arkansas held "field goal contests" after the first and third quarters, which is when the majority of those attempts took place. But considering the defense wasn't really attempting to block the kicks, that's pretty sketch.
The most important thing is that no one got hurt and most people seemed to have a good time. Since the game is free, it's always an opportunity for fans who might not get to see a real game in person to come and see what it's like in the stadium. There were families and kids enjoying the perfect weather, running around after the game taking pictures all over the athletic facilities, so it seemed to be good.
But, ultimately, spring practice is in the books, which means magazine preview season is upon us!