May 24, 2018

Dress Rehearsal — Razorback Scrimmage Notes — August 16

A few notes after watching Saturday’s 107-play scrimmage in Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

Bret Bielema (Photo by Michael Woods)The running backs are game-ready to go.  Alex Collins (63 rushing yards) was running hard, fighting and spinning for extra yards.  Korliss Marshall exploded for 102 rushing yards on 8 carries and 3 TDs, including a big 57-yard TD run to finish the scrimmage.  And while Jonathan Williams (hamstring) did not scrimmage, Bret Bielema said afterwards that he is close to returning to practice.

True freshman offensive linemen Frank Ragnow and Brian Wallace are going to be stars.  Ragnow got some first team reps at center Saturday and held his own for the most part.  Wallace is very skilled and really moves well.  The future is bright for those two.

Every attempt was made to have the scrimmage be a true dress rehearsal.  In addition to the usual referees on the field and full tackling (except for QBs), the coaches communicated via headsets and music and crowd noise were piped in over the stadium sound system.

The Hogs are still searching at fullback.  Jeremy Sprinkle looked pretty comfortable there coming out of the backfield as a receiver, but they are missing the Kiero Small-type blocker/masher between the tackles.

Our cupboard is stocked full of possession receivers.  While we think eventually Jared Cornelius, Kendrick Edwards and JoJo Robinson could be downfield threats, no vertical receivers that can get separation and stretch the field appear to have emerged.  It will still be easy for defenses to crowd the line of scrimmage unless that changes.

As much as the statewide talk shows would tell you different, Brandon Allen is still Brandon Allen.  His numbers were decent Saturday (19-28, 218, 3 TDs) and he shows flashes of improvement.  But Allen continues to be late and inaccurate delivering the ball at times.  While his arm strength has obviously increased since last season’s injury, he is still struggling to pick out the right receiver.  All that with a green jersey on.  Still a long way to go.

TipsterHog also contributed to this post.

  • bosshog94

    I have a love/hate relationship with this post. I love hearing the improvement and the honesty coming from y’all. It’ll help keep me and hopefully other people somewhat grounded when the season starts. At the same time, I hate that we gotta be real here. I’m a bird and I gotta fly, let my dreams fly high man. Don’t bring me down to earth quite yet 🙁

    • Ha…love it. We are struggling with it as well. Bo and Clay are telling us one thing, but our eyes tell us something else.

      • bosshog94

        now i wasn’t able to make it to the scrimmage today, but i need to know for my own sanity: is BA still staring down receivers or has he learned to survey the field and bait the defense off his receivers? that was far and away my biggest pet peeve with his play last year

        • Hogtagon

          I was at the second half of the scrimmage and while you have to temper what I’m saying somewhat (as I am an optimistic fan), I feel like I’m being pretty realistic when I say that I really disagree with these statements about Brandon Allen. Sure he missed a couple of passes, but I felt like he has improved in every way along the with the rest of our team. He got a little cocky throwing some passes he shouldn’t have, but he also made some really good decisions at times, even when that decision meant throwing the ball away. Our corners are playing much tighter and I think that shows in BAs stats somewhat.

          Throwing a .68 completion percentage with 3 TD receptions to some green receivers is nothing to scoff at. I mean, we’ve had two weeks of fall camp. Lets not throw him under the bus quite yet.

          • Agree…he’s not a finished product. And the more he plays the more he should improve. As to the completion percentage, we saw a lot of ‘check downs’ today when receivers running deeper routes looked open. Would have expected an even better day, given the fact that he knows he’s not going to be hit in that green jersey.

          • steve_uno

            One thing for sure, we’ll know a lot more come 6:00 pm 30 August!

          • GonzoHog

            Sunshine, just thinking out loud with an observation of the coaching style, but could there be something we’re missing here a bit with the scrimmage?
            Since the AU game is just a few days away now, could the coaches be telling BA to tone down any of his throws in certain situations like those on Saturday, and go for a more conservative, controlled-type offense to allow the AU coaching staff only so much exposure to what we’re doing?
            Preparation is key to any win, so I was just wondering if maybe this type of play could’ve been locked in by the coaches for an open scrimmage and possibly set up different with the regular practices? Just a thought. Am I being overly optimistic here on BA or could this be a possibility?

          • Gonzo, as always, your optimism inspires my fandom. 😉 I don’t think the coaches were telling anyone to ‘tone it down’ Saturday. Just really hope he looks different when they turn the lights on in a couple of weeks.

            Just know this…what the talk shows are feeding the masses doesn’t reconcile with what we saw yesterday.

          • Hawgfan100

            As an expat who doesn’t have ready access to Arkansas radio sports talk, what’s being said there about BA that’s not jibing with what you’re seeing on the field?

            Also, what did you think of Arkansas’ DBs playing tight?

          • Talk show hosts and folks trying to sell mags are basically just talking up how improved he is…night and day difference they say. It’s just not evident to us right now.

            On the DBs, you can tell they like the change in philosophy and are going to be much improved. A lot more PBUs and contested passes than we’ve seen in a while.

          • soupdhog
  • Carolina Hog

    A couple of thoughts. I don’t think this year is going to be quite the dumpster fire that most think it will be. If you go back and watch some of the Miss St., Auburn, and LSU games you can see the team starting to establish an identity. It not for really stupid mistakes, we are in or win those three games. I have to believe we cut down on the level of stupidity and are improved at most positions. I’m not sure we can beat Auburn, but I think we hang with them and we see improvement over the year. If BA can just be decent, those RB’s are going to cause a ton of trouble for people, but we have to find a way to get more than one of them on the field at a time. I think this team will go 5-7 with a chance at 7-5 and this time next year we are getting really excited.

  • soupdhog

    I’m not worried about the offense – the only way we can win games this year is play good defense. We need to be 10-14 points better on that side of the ball this year. The big offensive numbers you post scare me. Was this against the ones or twos?

    • #1 offense vs. #2 defense. #2 offense vs. #1 defense. The defense is improved at all levels. I really like what Robb Smith is doing.

  • GolfHog

    Incremental progress is a fine thing.
    We won 6 games last year except for giving three away. We have seen incremental improvement on the O-line and at receiver. Receiver sucked last year, now we are just a work in progress. We are a bit better at linebacker with an arrow. And, our defensive backfield can’t be any worse. They might show up. We lost some experience in the D-line which offsets the gains at LB/DB. Brandon Allen will play with a throwing shoulder. That’s not great progress but, it beats a one armed sophomore. The running backs will need to lead the team.
    The defensive staff that coughed up those three games has been replaced. That was kind of a pasted together bunch anyway. This group seems better.
    Who wouldn’t take 7-5 right now?