FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas football will scrimmage for the second time this fall Saturday afternoon inside Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
Media will be allowed inside to watch, meaning SEC Country’s Jason Kersey and Trent Shadid will be on hand to provide full coverage.
Here’s a look at what we’ll be watching.
The right side of the offensive line
Arkansas offensive line coach Kurt Anderson has trotted out no fewer than nine different first-team combinations throughout fall camp. That could mean one of two things: Either the Hogs are overflowing with capable players and are trying to pinpoint the most effective group, or the unit has serious problems.
For those of us on the outside, it’s extremely difficult to know which of those scenarios is playing out, but the scrimmage could provide some insight.
At the first scrimmage last weekend, the first-team O-line — consisting that day of LT Dan Skipper, LG Hjalte Froholdt, C Frank Ragnow, RG Zach Rogers and RT Jake Raulerson — got pushed around some early, but looked much better as the scrimmage progressed and running backs Rawleigh Williams III and Devwah Whaley began to thrive.
Ragnow and the players to his left seem pretty well set at this point, but how the right side of the line will shake out remains a total mystery.
— Jason Kersey
Bret Bielema said he expects that just about everyone who is healthy will play in the scrimmage, but he might limit the action for some well-established starters. That might mean lots of extra action for several freshmen.
I’m interested to see how De’jon Harris looks now that he’s been elevated to No. 2 on the depth chart at middle linebacker.
Defensive tackle Austin Capps received praise during the last week.
Wide receiver Jordan Jones — who is expected to play this season — missed last week’s scrimmage because of a fever, so it will be interesting to see how he looks in his first game-like action on the big field. Freshmen safeties Deon Edwards and Micahh Smith might get some extended action.
There is one true freshman, though, that might be limited Saturday and it wouldn’t be a shock. Whaley was a star of last week’s scrimmage and practiced most of this week in a green, no-contact jersey because of what sounds like a minor shoulder bruise.
— Jason Kersey
At the beginning of the week, the coaching staff sounded like they had as many as six cornerbacks they felt could potentially start the season as contributors. By midweek, it was down to four, as senior D.J. Dean pulled a hamstring and sophomore Britto Tutt sustained a torn ACL.
Dean is expected to miss at least a couple weeks and Tutt is out for the entire season. So the cornerbacks will be something to watch Saturday if for no other reason than to see if they remain healthy.
Another injury would leave the Hogs extremely thin at the position, especially with TCU’s spread offense looming in Week 2.
The expected starters — Jared Collins and Henre’ Toliver — remain healthy and have looked good so far in camp. More will be expected of Kevin Richardson III and Ryan Pulley to provide needed depth at the position.
— Trent Shadid
Starting quarterback Austin Allen has been solid so far in camp, making several good throws and decisions in last Saturday’s scrimmage. But the No. 2 spot behind him is still very much up for grabs with Rafe Peavey, Ty Storey and Cole Kelley competing for the job.
Bielema said earlier this week the coaching staff is still waiting for one of those guys to step up and separate himself from the others. While Bielema didn’t sound overly concerned with needing to decide on a backup soon, it’s still crucial that it gets settled.
As long as nothing happens to Allen, the Razorbacks should be fine. However, the season could come crashing down quickly if something were to happen to Allen and no one establishes himself as a capable backup.
— Trent Shadid