FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas began it’s second scrimmage of fall camp in the rain Saturday at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium before moving to the indoor practice facility to wrap things up.
The Hogs scrimmaged for 98 plays. The starters did not tackle each other as a precautionary measure to “stay fresh and be where we need to be,” according to coach Bret Bielema.
“From a head coaching view, I have been wanting to work with a wet ball all camp,” Bielema said. “To get that opportunity today, I wanted to seize that.
“To get that wet-ball work offensively was critical. I really wanted to see them battle through the elements and overall I thought they handled it very well. I thought the quarterbacks threw the ball pretty well with the wet ball and (the receivers) caught the ball very well.”
Bielema also said the scrimmage would the final one before the season opener on Sept. 3 against Louisiana Tech.
- Senior wide receiver Keon Hatcher, freshman running back Devwah Whaley and junior tight end Anthony Antwine all wore green jerseys to signify non-contact. Bielema said it was just precaution as all three have minor shoulder injuries they can play through.
- Senior defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr. did not participate as he was attending the funeral of a grandparent in Texas.
- Senior running back Kody Walker was held out for precautionary reasons. Walker has had foot issues in the past. He has been limited throughout camp, but is expected to be full-go to begin the season.
- Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Jalen Merrick did not play due to a concussion. Merrick worked some as a starter on the right side of the line earlier this week.
- Freshman running back T.J. Hammonds has began running in the pool after having surgery on his knee and is expected to potentially practice again Tuesday. He had a minor meniscus tear while warming up for last Saturday’s scrimmage.
- Senior wide receiver Dominique Reed’s swelling in his sprained ankle has improved drastically. Bielema said he will begin practicing again sometime next week and should be ready for the season opener.
- Freshman defensive back Micahh Smith had surgery after sustaining a meniscus tear during Wednesday’s practice. Bielema said he expects Smith to rejoin the team during the week of the first game and is a potential redshirt candidate.
- Redshirt freshman tight end Austin Cantrell did not participate with a groin injury he sustained earlier in the week. Bielema says he’s expected to be ready to go by the beginning of the first game.
- Junior offensive lineman Paul Ramirez did not participate due to a minor knee injury.
- Redshirt freshman tight end Cheyenne O’Grady did not participate after aggravating tendinitis in his knee earlier in the week. He is expected to be back practicing by Tuesday.
- Freshman wide receiver Kofi Boateng and sophomore cornerback Britto Tutt are both out for the season after tearing an ACL earlier in camp. Bielema said they would both be able to redshirt.
What we learned
- Austin Allen is extremely accurate. He made several impressive throws Saturday, following up last week’s solid scrimmage performance. His best pass of the day came on a 31-yard touchdown to wide receiver Jared Cornelius. He threw a perfect ball to beat tight coverage from cornerback Henre’ Toliver.
- The competition to backup Allen has apparently been narrowed down from three to two players. Redshirt freshman Ty Storey and true freshman Cole Kelley split time taking snaps with the second-team offense while Rafe Peavey did not see any time. Peavey was projected to be the backup coming out of the spring, but a minor back surgery in July has had him limited so far in fall camp. Bielema said the coaching staff would have a personnel meeting tomorrow to discuss the status of several positions, including the No. 2 quarterback.
- Besides forcing a couple throws, Kelley looked impressive for a freshman going through his first fall camp. He has a very strong arm and a gunslinger mentality.
- The starting offensive line appears to be settled with Colton Jackson (RT), Jake Raulerson (RG), Frank Ragnow (C), Hjalte Froholdt (LG) and Dan Skipper (LT). Bielema said he likes that group, but isn’t “locking in 100-percent” with them as the starters. They were solid for the most part Saturday. It was somewhat difficult to tell how well they run blocked without tackling involved.
- It was also tough to gauge how well the primary running backs performed without tackling. Sophomore Rawliegh Williams III and freshman Devwah Whaley took all the carries with the first team. Junior Duwop Mitchell was the main running back on the second team and was tackled. He had an average day.
- The wide receivers and tight end Jeremy Sprinkle were impressive. Starters Cornelius and Sprinkle each caught a touchdown pass from Allen. Drew Morgan also made several catches and looked to be a favorite target for Allen.
- While the wide receivers had a good day, starting cornerbacks Jared Collins and Henre’ Toliver were still very solid as they have been all camp. Collins played Saturday despite breaking his hand earlier in the week Bielema said Friday that Collins only missed two plays in practice due to the injury. Toliver continues to be one of the top defensive players on the team through fall camp.
- The defensive line had some good moments with pressure and touch sacks in both the first and second team action. Tackle Jeremiah Ledbetter was unblockable at times, end JaMichael Winston had a nice scrimmage filling in as a starter for Wise and end Randy Ramsey showed off his quickness on the edge by providing pressure on a handful of occasions.
- Senior cornerback D.J. Dean will be back from his hamstring injury sooner than expected. The injury put Dean on the sideline earlier in the week, and Bielema even said he may redshirt as the one-time starter falls down the depth chart. Bielema changed course Saturday, staying Dean was running at practice Friday and is expected to be back on the field Tuesday. Dean had sent out a tweet stating: “I just wanna play the game I love, is that to much to ask” on Tuesday, apparently after having the redshirt conversation with Bielema. See the quote of the day below for more information on the situation.
- Bielema announced Cole Hedlund has officially won the starting kicker spot. Hedlund has looked good, even consistently making kicks from 40-plus yards, in fall camp. Adam McFain and Connor Limpert are still competing for the primary kickoff duties.
Quote of the day
- Bielema on Dean’s injury, redshirt status and tweet: “I had a conversation with him, where I shared that he still has a redshirt year and that went over like a lead balloon. I brought him over today and I said, ‘Why’d you tweet that?’ And he goes, ‘I was mad.’ And I said, ‘Well I was mad.’ He’s such a competitive kid. I’m excited. If he can get out there sometime next week, we can play him that first game.”