The backups nearly upset the starters during Arkansas’ annual spring game Saturday afternoon. But, the Razorbacks reserves did get some help from the format of Saturday’s game.
Arkansas’ Red Team, consisting of reserves, received double the points for each score and received 15 points from a field goal kicking competition that took place at the end of the first and third quarters and actually counted toward the game’s final score. Freshman Ricky Town’s 28-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jamario Bell appeared to have given the Red team the victory on the final play from scrimmage. But the score was credited to the White team for no apparent reason and the starters won, 39-21.
After some scoreboard confusion following that last TD, the score is granted to the White team, which apparently wins 39-21
— Thomas Murphy (@TomMurphyADG) April 23, 2016
Junior quarterback Austin Allen made the start for the White team and was decent Saturday afternoon, completing 13-of-19 passes. Sophomore Rafe Peavey served as the starter for the Red team and played the majority of the game.
Storylines you need to know
QB business: Allen, named the team’s starter last week, had some issues that weren’t his fault (some protection breakdowns, a dropped pass and a fumble on a sure touchdown). Peavey wasn’t very impressive, so coach Bret Bielema appears to have done the right thing in having Allen take the reins from his graduated brother, Brandon.
Evans stands out: With senior tailback Kody Walker out and sophomore Rawleigh Williams wearing a green, no-contact jersey, Arkansas needed someone to emerge out of the backfield. Junior tailback Denzell Evans may have been that guy, running for two touchdowns Saturday afternoon.
Work in progress: Arkansas has to replace Brandon Allen, running backs Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams and tight end Hunter Henry this season. That won’t be an easy task and it showed during the spring game. Arkansas’ offense is still under construction.
Defense dominates: It was a very strong day for Arkansas’ first- and second-string defenses. The Razorbacks’ second unit gave the starting offense everything it could handle and the starting defense was superior, allowing only one field goal that counted for six points. Bielema seemed pleased with the defense’s effort.
“Our defense I thought has played well all spring,” Bielema said, according to The Arkansas Democrat Gazette’s Tom Murphy. “They’re doing things well day in and day out, which tells me that it’s not a fluke.”
Allen was somewhat shaky as the starter for the No. 1 offense. Allen was nearly intercepted on an errant throw while trying to squeeze the ball into a tight window and floated another pass during the first quarter. Senior defensive lineman Deatrich Wise Jr. recorded a sack (although quarterbacks weren’t hit) for the first-team defense. Sophomore Cole Hedlund missed a 42-yard field goal. Hedlund and senior Adam McFain competed in a kicking shootout and both converted on only two of their four field-goal attempts. It was 6-6 after the first quarter shootout.
No scoring plays
The second quarter was an up-and-down affair for the White team. Senior wideout Keon Hatcher came awfully close to a touchdown on an end-around sweep, but fumbled the ball into the end zone just short of the goal line. Evans botched a handoff earlier in the quarter but made up for it by rumbling seven yards into the end zone for the White team’s first true points of the day. McFain showed off his leg with a 52-yard field goal for the Red team and Hedlund answered with a 48-yard boot at the end of the first half.
White: Evans 7 run (Hedlund kick), 7:32
Red: McFain 52 field goal, 11:11
White: Hedlund 48 field goal, 12:00
The third quarter wasn’t spectacular. Allen showed poise by scooping up a grounded shotgun snap and delivering a strike to Hatcher that put them into position for Evans’ second touchdown of the day. Both kickers made three kicks in the field-goal shootout, making it a 32-21 game.
White: Evans 1 run (Hedlund kick), 11:30
Redshirt freshman quarterback Ty Storey got some reps for the Red team in the final stanza. Sophomore tailback Damon Mitchell went down with eight minutes to play but was able to walk off the field under his own power.
White: Jamario Bell 28 pass from Town, 11:00
What’s next: Arkansas will wrap up the spring semester before reconvening in the fall.