Razorback Defense Sees Red in First Spring Scr
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Evidently the prospects of wearing pink jerseys had Arkansas’ defense seeing red in Saturday morning’s first scrimmage of the spring at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Razorbacks’ defensive coordinator Reggie Herring has handed out pink jerseys this spring to those UA defenders that don’t give a full effort on nearly every snap. No one donned the pink jerseys on Saturday for the scrimmage and after the Razorback defense’s impressive performance in the approximately 60-play scrimmage, pink may be a fashion out of style in the Hogs’ next spring practice.
“It was a beautiful for football,” Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt said. “Our defense really flew around and you can see the improvement that they are making. They are starting to time up their blitzes and zone pressures. I will be anxious to watch the film to see the improvement, how many stood around and how many people chased the ball.”
Sophomore strong safety Dallas Washington led the way with six tackles while linebacker Pierre Brown and defensive tackle Marcus Harrison each earned five stops. Converted linebackers Desmond Sims and Zach Snider showed promise in their scrimmage debut at defensive end. Sims earned a sack and several quarterback pressures while Snider racked up two tackles for loss.
On the other side of the ball, Arkansas’ offense struggled to maintain consistency but managed to reel off several big plays. Freshman Cole Barthel connected with Anthony Brown for a 21-yard score and then hit 23-yard pass to Chris Baker to set up another touchdown. Sophomore Robert Johnson found Baker for an 18-yard gain to set the stage for a Peyton Hillis one-yard run to paydirt.
“Offensively we made some mistakes that hurt ourselves,” Nutt said. “This was good to get out here in a game-like situation in the stadium. It is funny to see how they think when there is a 25-second clock and the defense is moving around on you. Kyle Dickerson, Peyton Hillis, Brandon Kennedy, those guys are playing awfully hard and physical. Marcus Monk continues to be so consistent. Cedric Washington has had a good four or five practices. He has looked very good.”
Barthel had the best numbers of the day at quarterback. The Decatur, Ala., product completed four of six passes for 83 yards and a touchdown. Anthony Brown hauled in two Barthel passes for 47 yards including a 21-yard touchdown. Barthel also added a touchdown on the ground with a one-yard quarterback sneak.
“Cole did a good job for his first game-like scrimmage,” Nutt. “It really is his first one since high school if you look at it like that. He did some good things, but as he will tell you he needs to improve on some things.”
Johnson completed four of 10 pass attempts for 37 yards on the scrimmage. He also scrambled for a 14-yard gain rushing. However, a fumbled exchange with Hillis and an interception dampened Johnson’s overall performance. Redshirt freshman Alex Mortensen also saw significant playing time completing one of five passes for five yards. “The quarterbacks made some mistakes, we forced a couple balls which you can’t do,” Nutt said. “You can’t have turnovers. We had two critical turnovers today and we have to get that corrected.” Hillis led UA rushers with 37 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. Senior Kyle Dickerson earned 23 yards on 11 carries. The Hogs appeared to emerge from Saturday’s first spring scrimmage relatively unscathed. Redshirt freshman defensive end Michael Tate strained a right knee early on the day, but no other significant injuries were sustained. Arkansas will return to the practice field on Monday afternoon. The Razorbacks will culminate spring drills on April 16 with the annual Red vs. White Spring Game at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Kickoff for the spring game will be at 11:30 a.m. and no admission will be charged.
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