Arkansas ran 73 scrimmage plays Saturday in the Walker Pavilion, and there was a heavy emphasis on third downs, too many penalties, a few big plays and an overall solid showing from the defense.
On offense and defense, the Hogs committed 10 total penalties. The referees that are calling the scrimmages have been asked to be loose with the flags because Razorback head coach Bret Bielema has a goal to be the least penalized team in the conference.
"Today obviously there's a lot to clean up - some things jumped off-sides. That's first and foremost, everything starts for me playing clean football before the snap, during the snap and after the snap. So, we'll address that immediately. We did that after practice today with some extra conditioning."
While the first and second teams were competitive against each other, there was a noticeable gap in talent with the reserve offense against the reserve defense, in favor of the defense.
While much of the scrimmage was focused on six-play sets and in getting the ball down the field, a huge chunk was devoted to third downs. The offense would line up at 3rd-and-1, go to 3rd-and-2 the next play, 3rd-and-4, then 3rd-and-6, then 3rd-and-8 and finally 3rd-and-10 before the next group came onto the field. The defense' goal on first down is to hold the offense to three yards or fewer. The offense's goal is to get four yards or more.
During the middle of the scrimmage, 23 plays in-a-row were 3rd down situations. The offense converted 10 of them (43.5 percent).
"I like the way our defense really got aggressive up front. I think our defensive line is a very solid unit. Rotating some guys through at linebacker, and I've been very impressed with the ability of some of the guys on the back end to make plays - like Rohan Gaines made a couple of nice plays."
The offense committed seven false starts with an illegal formation and a holding call. The defense was hit once for a 12 men on the field violation. The illegal formation negated a 45-yard connection from Brandon Mitchell to Keon Hatcher. The scrimmage ended with a false start - not on a high note.
At the end of the afternoon, the offense picked up 249 passing yards and 49 rushing yards for 298 total yards. While the rushing numbers were unimpressive at 34 carries for 49 yards, there were six sacks and three tackles for lost yardage that contributed to the poor total. And walk-on Patrick Arinze was impressive in short yardage with 8 carries for 32 yards to lead the team (4.0 yards per carry) Arinze was playing fullback last week.
"He came as a fullback and he's got really good feet," Bielema said of Arinze. " Balanced, extremely physical. He's kind of like a bowling ball out there, he's just as tall as he is wide and square. That's kind of a nice feature for as athletic as he is."
While quarterback Brandon Allen started the strongest, Brandon Mitchell had the stronger finish. Allen got most of the first team reps and started the scrimmage, but Mitchell still got a significant number, and junior college walk-on transfer A.J. Derby received a good number of reps, as well.
"I thought Brandon Allen, Brandon Mitchell both did some really good things," Bielema said. "Brandon Mitchell particularly that second half, moved the ball. Took the ball all the way down the field. Wasn't exactly, clean, wasn't pretty, but made plays. Got the guy into the end zone."
Allen finished 10 of 19 passing for 129 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. The touchdown came on the 15th play of the scrimmage when he found Javontee Herndon deep for a 65-yard touchdown bomb. But later in the scrimmage he was picked deep by Rohan Gaines.
Mitchell was 7 of 13 passing for 110 yard and a touchdown. He had the 45-yarder to Hatcher called back on a penalty but also hit tight end Brad Taylor from four yards out, and the Hogs haven't even started installing goal line or red zone offense.
"I would think going into today, Brandon - Brandon Allen - might have had a little bit of an edge, but really like the way that Brandon Mitchell has a presence with the team. A.J. Derby did some nice things. A.J.'s kind of a football junkie. He's in there all the time and really trying to grasp it. I really like Brandon Allen. He threw a couple of deep balls today I don't want, but he'd been throwing the deep ball very, very well. We don't want to throw a prayer up there, we want to throw a completion."
Bielema said the quarterbak competition will go on as long as possible.
In addition to Arinze's 8 carries for 32 yards, starting tailback Jonathan Williams picked up 26 yards on 6 carries (4.3 ypc). Nate Holmes, the backup RB, had 5 for 18 (3.6 ypc).
"Jonathan Williams continues to impress me. He's a very physical runner. Can make some people miss. We've just got to get him more north and south as much as possible. Nate Holmes, as you can tell, very gifted football player with the ball on his hands. Like what he brings to the table."
Herndon had the biggest day for the wideouts with 2 grabs for 78 yards and the 65-yard touchdown catch. Julian Horton showed up with 4 catches for 78 yards and a score.
"I think they've responded very well to Coach [Sam] Pittman...so much so I gave him a raise," Bielema said. "We've just got to find the five best guys and put the right guys behind them."
In injury news, linebacker A.J. Turner has a broken wrist and will wear a cast for six weeks. Safety Defonta Lowe is not practicing with the team.
"I guess it was the second or third week of this second semester, I just told him he needed to concentrate on his academics and get everything right there, so he's not with us right now," Bielema said of Lowe.
When Arkansas suits up in the Red-White Game on April 20, it will be the first teams against everyone else.
The Razorbacks held a 73-play scrimmage Saturday afternoon in the Walker Pavilion.
The team did extra conditioning after scrimmage to address 10 penalties during scrimmage.
Safety Defonta Lowe was told by head coach Bret Bielema in the second or third week of the semester that he needs to focus on academics and then can rejoin the team.
Tight end Mitchell Loewen has a sprained ankle suffered during the scrimmage but it is not severe. No major injuries, just some nicks and bruises.
Tight end Austin Tate just got back to practice this week...Bielema has been very impressed with him and his maturity.
Linebacker Otha Peters has had trouble with his hip, so he wasn't in there as much as normal. He has worked at all three linebacker spots. Bielema has been very impressed with Jarrett Lake who had a big forced fumble. Robert Atiga and Daunte Carr are also working in the middle.
AJ Turner broke his wrist 4 or 5 weeks ago and is casted up. They just found out it was a break...He will be that way for 6 weeks.
Brandon Allen received most of the first-team reps but Brandon Mitchell got a lot also and finished the scrimmage stronger than Allen, who got off to a hot start.
Wide recevier Keante Minor has been moved to running back. Bielema wanted to give the players the first week to react and then made some position changes. Davyon McKinney has moved from corner to safety.
Walk-on fullback Patrick Arinze has moved from fullback to tailback and played very well in the scrimmage.
Safeties Jerry Mitchell and Price Holmes have moved to linebacker. Mitchell also played cornerback early in his career at Arkansas.
Brey Cook has moved inside to guard (as of Thursday) in an effort to get the best five offensive linemen on the field. Marcus Danenhauer has moved from guard to tackle. Luke Charpentier has moved from guard to center.
The team met in the meeting room at 10 a.m. first to make sure they understood how physical the coaches wanted them to be today. Bielema locked himself in his office for an hour prior to the scrimmage to get together what he wanted to see today. He also does this prior to games.
Team: 18 of 38, 249 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Brandon Allen: 10 of 19 for 129 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Brandon Mitchell: 7 of 13, 110 yds, 1 TD
Taylor Reed: 0 of 1
A.J. Derby: 1 for 3, 10 yards
Davis McElroy: 0 for 2
Team: 34 for 49 yards
Patrick Arinze: 8 for 32
Jonathan Williams: 6 for 26 yards
Nate Holmes: 5 for 18
JoJo Wynn: 2 for 6 yards
Keante Minor: 3 for 2 yards
Brandon Mitchell: 3 for -15
Brandon Allen: 1 for -5
A.J. Derby: 4 for -8
Taylor Reed: 1 for -7
Devin Ryan: 1 for 0
Keon Hatcher: 1 for 6
Javontee Herndon: 2 for 78 yds, 1 TD
Julian Horton: 4 for 57 yds
D'Arthur Cowan: 2 for 15 yds
Eric Hawkins: 2 for 61 yds
Demetrius Wilson: 1 for 8 yd
Jonathan Williams: 2 for 13 yds
Nate Holmes: 1 for -5
Demetrius Dean: 1 for 2
Brad Taylor: 1 for 4 yds, TD
JoJo Wynn: 1 for 10 yds
Passing: 18 of 38, 249 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Rushing: 34 for 49 yards
Deatrich Wise (2)
Rohan Gaines (on Brandon Allen)