The Razorback football team had a 121-play scrimmage this afternoon, their first of the 2015 season. It was also the first time the team had officials and live tackling as the team tried to mimic a game-like setting as much as possible.
The first team defense stole the show, combating many fears that fans and media had about the losses of four NFL draft picks on that side of the ball. Over the 121 plays, the defense totaled six “touch” sacks (quarterbacks weren’t allowed to be contacted) and forced three turnovers.
“I can’t say enough about our defensive line’s growth and progression,” said head coach Bret Bielema. “The depth that we have there is going to be a highlight.”
All six sacks were recorded by defensive linemen – two by sophomore Tevin Beanum, two by junior Taiwan Johnson and one each from junior Jeremiah Ledbetter and sophomore Karl Roesler.
The first team secondary also played very well. Junior Jared Collins was very active with one tackle, one pass breakup and one interception. The Tulsa, Okla. native had tight coverage on many passes and made life very difficult for the offense.
Redshirt freshman Santos Ramirez and true freshman Ryan Pulley also made big plays. Ramirez had several big hits, including one that forced a fumble. Pulley intercepted a pass along the sideline and returned it 40 yards for the only defensive touchdown of the afternoon.
Though the defense made several impressive plays, they weren’t the only side of the ball showcasing playmakers. The offense showed some explosive play-making ability, as well.
“Alex Collins has probably had by far his most productive camp. He’s leaner, quicker, faster and has really been good overall.”
The junior showed that quickness with six carries for 72 yards and a touchdown. His final touch of the day was a 43-yard touchdown run where he burst through the hole and into the second and third levels of the defense without anyone close to catching him.
Another running back that showed explosiveness is true freshman Rawleigh Williams III. He finished the scrimmage with 14 carries for 105 yards and a touchdown. On just his second touch of the day, he took a carry off the left tackle and switched to another gear as he blew past the defense down the sideline for a 63-yard score.
Several wide receivers made big plays, as well. Redshirt freshman Jojo Robinson took a fourth down slant 38-yards to the end zone for a touchdown.
Junior Drew Morgan made several nice catches, including three for 10-plus yards. He totaled four receptions for 53 yards in the scrimmage.
Junior college transfer Dominique Reed showcased his speed and athleticism with a pair of receptions that went for 18- and 19-yards. He hauled in three passes for 41 yards.
Sophomore Jared Cornelius also had some big plays, catching four passes, including three for a first down. He had one reception for 45 yards and totaled 70 receiving yards on the afternoon.
The Razorbacks will hold Fan Day tomorrow at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium before returning for Practice 10 on Monday morning.
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