Hogs look to im­prove on the run

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - TOM MUR­PHY

FAYET­TEVILLE — Fans of the Arkansas Ra­zor­backs will get their first chance to­day, weather per­mit­ting, to see the team since the tele­vised spring prac­tice fi­nale.

Coach Bret Bielema said the fi­nal por­tion of to­day’s scrim­mage, be­tween 1-2 p.m., is open to the pub­lic at Reynolds Ra­zor­back Sta­dium as part of the school’s Fan Day fes­tiv­i­ties.

“We’ll open up the back half of the prac­tice on Satur­day, which will be some of our ones and twos work­ing, but also de­vel­op­men­tal work,” Bielema said. “Then we have Fan Day as well.

“We’re ex­cited. Hope­fully we’ll get the weather to cooperate with that.”

There is about a 50 per­cent chance of rain around 1 p.m. If there is se­vere weather and the Ra­zor­backs have to move their scrim­mage in­doors to the Walker Pavil­ion, it will be closed to the pub­lic.

Fan Day is sched­uled to be­gin at Walker Pavil­ion at 2:30 p.m., with Bielema and the play­ers set to sign au­to­graphs be­tween 4-5 p.m.

From an in­jury stand­point, de­fen­sive starters

Dre Green­law and Karl Roesler might scrim­mage af­ter miss­ing live tack­ling last Satur­day, as could tight ends Will Gragg and Jeremy Pat­ton, and kicker Cole Hed­lund. Line­backer De’Jon Har­ris (knee) and re­ceiver Bran­don Martin (back) are questionable.

Since the start of camp, the Ra­zor­backs have lost re­ceivers Jared Cor­nelius (back) and T.J. Ham­monds (knee), out­side line­backer Ja­mario Bell (foot) and in­side line­backer Josh Har­ris (lower leg).

The top or­der of the day on of­fense is get­ting the run­ning game on track. Top tail­backs Devwah Whaley and David Williams, who worked mostly with the start­ing of­fense, com­bined for 130 rush­ing yards on 31 car­ries in un­of­fi­cial statis­tics in the first scrim­mage. Whaley and Williams av­er­aged just 4.19 yards per carry against the sec­ond-team de­fense.

Whaley gained more than 5 yards on only 3 of 19 car­ries. Williams had gains of 12 and 18 yards, but his other 10 at­tempts av­er­aged 2.8 yards per rush.

“We’ve re­ally chal­lenged our team, the ones es­pe­cially, that we need to run the ball more con­sis­tently,” offensive co­or­di­na­tor Dan Enos said. “I think they did a tremen­dous job pro­tect­ing the passer on Satur­day, our ones. But we weren’t real happy with how we ran the foot­ball.”

So the Ra­zor­backs stressed phys­i­cal­ity in the ground game all week.

“We put a big­ger em­pha­sis on the in­side drills,” run­ning backs coach Reg­gie Mitchell said. “Not that we hadn’t in the past. But we’ve been a lit­tle more phys­i­cal on the in­side drills.

“I just think that as an offensive line and run­ning backs, when you first start, your pad level isn’t where it should be. Now I think our pad level is get­ting to where it should be, and we’re go­ing to be able to run the ball bet­ter.”

Offensive line coach Kurt An­der­son said the first unit of Colton Jack­son, Hjalte Fro­holdt, Frank Rag­now, Johnny Gib­son and Brian Wal­lace has im­proved through camp for the Univer­sity of Arkansas, Fayet­teville.

“The first group has done a re­ally good job,” he said. “The em­pha­sis this week has been on the run game, and I think we’re build­ing to­ward where we want to be. Pass pro­tec­tion has been re­ally, re­ally good. In terms of as­sign­ments, eye pro­gres­sion, pad level, our punches, we’ve been do­ing a nice job of pro­tect­ing the quar­ter­back.”

Fresh­man tail­back Chase Hay­den had a 74-yard touch­down run among his 16 car­ries for 123 yards, all against the de­fen­sive starters. Hay­den av­er­aged 7.7 yards per carry with the big run in­cluded, but 3.3 yards per carry on his other 15 runs.

“We had some busts that sur­prised me a lit­tle bit, and I think the les­son learned from that was the first time out there … you can get a lit­tle

bit too ex­cited and a lit­tle bit too hyped, as the kids were, and for­get to have your eyes in the right lo­ca­tion and your mind where it needs to be ev­ery sin­gle snap,” de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Paul Rhoads said. “The fun thing about this group, they’re a very ma­ture group and they un­der­stood that quite quickly, and I think we’ll see a sig­nif­i­cant drop in the busts this Satur­day.”

Rhoads said the en­tire de­fense missed 16 tack­les in the scrim­mage, but he wasn’t that up­set be­cause halv­ing that num­ber to eight made it less than the goal of 10 missed tack­les for the first and sec­ond units.

De­fen­sive line coach John Scott wants to see an im­prove­ment in fo­cus to­day.

“Some of the things we didn’t do well the first scrim­mage, like be­ing able to play harder longer,” he said. “Be­ing able to elim­i­nate the mis­takes we made when we got tired, be­ing able to fight through that. Just be­ing able to hold our tech­nique and play at a high level through­out.”

Quar­ter­back Austin Allen had a hot day in the first scrim­mage, con­nect­ing on 19 of 23 passes for 304 yards and 1 touch­down. He played 44 snaps in the first half of the scrim­mage. Back­ups Ty Storey and Cole Kel­ley split time with the first of­fense in the sec­ond half of the work­out.

Enos said he’d like to see much fewer than the six dropped passes from the first scrim­mage.

“Two of them were ex­plo­sive plays, three of them were on third downs,” Enos said. “So those are game-chang­ing type drops. Our for­mula is you can’t have penal­ties, turnovers, sacks and drops, and Satur­day we had a cou­ple of penal­ties we can get fix and dropped passes that we’ve got to fix.

“But the good news was, knock on wood, we didn’t turn the ball over and they pro­tected the quar­ter­back well. So we did some of it pretty good.”

Tight ends coach Barry Lun­ney got Pat­ton and Gragg back this week and wants to see his unit at full strength.

“It’s an­other chance to be eval­u­ated with­out us be­ing there to hold their hand,” he said. “Hope­fully we can get to the point where we can see Jeremy in a more full-speed-type en­vi­ron­ment, and he gets to dis­play who he is and what he is.

“They un­der­stand ev­ery rep is vi­tal, ev­ery rep is eval­u­ated, ev­ery rep is scru­ti­nized very closely.”

Bielema said this scrim­mage comes as the Ra­zor­backs are hit­ting their stride about midway through camp.

“The first nine prac­tices were in con­junc­tion with sum­mer school, so we re­ally had to mod­ify and ad­just our sched­ule as it fit our play­ers’ sched­ule with aca­demics,” he said. “Now we’re in a two-week phase where we’re re­ally un­lim­ited by any­thing other than the NCAA rules, so we don’t have class con­flicts, don’t have guys that have sched­ules out­side of the game of foot­ball.

“It re­ally al­lows us to kind of get into the meat and pota­toes of fall camp. We’re in the grind of fall camp.”

Bielema

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/ANDY SHUPE

Arkansas run­ning back Devwah Whaley and other run­ning backs need to im­prove the run­ning game in to­day’s scrim­mage. Whaley and David Williams, work­ing with the start­ing of­fense last Satur­day, gained only 130 yards on 31 car­ries in un­of­fi­cial statis­tics.

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