FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas capped the second week of pre-season camp with an 87-play scrimmage in front of a crowd of more than 4,100 at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Saturday night.
While the projected starters on both sides of the ball polished their assignments, a large portion of the scrimmage was devoted to auditioning reserves at every position. With the season opener two weeks away, UA coaches are looking for players to step up to fill the depth chart.
“This was a good scrimmage,” Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt said. “We have done what we needed to do. We really stretched those No. 2’s and No. 3’s. Now it’s time to work on assignments. We are going to organize the scout team on Sunday. I’m anxious to watch the film on this. It was a good scrimmage.”
Offensively, the Razorbacks had several young wide receivers step forward in Saturday night’s action. Redshirt freshman Carlton Salters led all wide receivers with five catches for 60 yards. True freshman Crosby Tuck made the most of his four receptions racking up 93 yards including a 37-yard scoring strike from Casey Dick. Freshman D.J. Williams hauled in four passes for 35 yards.
“Carlton has been a quiet steady guy,” Nutt said. “He has been a steady performer. I’m really proud of him. London Crawford showed some toughness across the middle, catching the tough ball. Crosby Tuck continues to make plays. D.J. Williams made some good plays and so did some of those other young guys.”
Junior Casey Dick completed eight of 15 passes for 116 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The Razorbacks’ starting signal caller found Reggie Fish for a seven-yard score and Tuck for a 37-yard touchdown. Freshman Nathan Dick completed six of 12 passes for 68 yards with at least two more tosses right on the money, but dropped by UA wide receivers.
“We’ve given Nathan (Dick) more reps on purpose,” Nutt said. “We want to do a really thorough evaluation on him. You love his arm. He has a live arm. It’s just can he get all the stuff? That is what is tough on a freshman.”
While stalwart running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones played sparingly, a host of other Razorback ball carriers had an opportunity to play on Saturday. Sophomore Michael Smith carried the ball only three times, but racked up 54 yards and a touchdown. Smith broke free for a 50-yard touchdown run early in the scrimmage. Torian Wilkins saw extensive work earning 54 yards
on 20 carries. McFadden carried the ball four times for 25 yards while Jones netted only one rushing attempt for no gain.
On the defensive side of the ball, several Razorbacks stepped forward. Freshman linebacker Ryan Powers and senior defensive end Antwain Robinson were among the leaders with five tackles on the night. Powers made five solo stops including one (-1) for loss while Robinson racked up two tackles for loss (-10) in his five stops.
“Walner Leandre made some good hits, Wendel Davis, Chip Gregory, Ryan Powers, those guys stand out but I’m anxious to watch the film,” Nutt said. “We will break down this film very hard and then we are in Troy week where we will put on the final touches. From there we will try to zero in on the two-deep depth chart.”
Three Razorback defenders snared interceptions on the night. Strong safety Matt Harris made his second interception in as many weeks while linebacker Adrian Davis also picked off a pass. Freshman cornerback Brandon Barnett intercepted an errant pass and raced 39 yards before being forced out of bounds.
The biggest applause of the night, however, was reserved for freshman placekicker Alex Tejada. Handling all the placekicking duties while Jeremy Davis is sidelined with an injury, Tejada was very impressive hitting eight of nine field goals including splitting the uprights from 44, 47, 51 and 55 yards. His only miss on the night came when he missed wide on another 55-yard attempt.
“You gain a lot of confidence with Alex (Tejada),” Nutt said. “He has really kicked the ball well. The tough thing is that Jeremy Davis was having a good camp as well before he got injured. We will just see how it plays out there.”
Arkansas will take Sunday off from the practice field before returning to the field on Monday night. Monday is the first day of classes on the UA campus. Arkansas opens the season on Sept. 1 against Troy at Donald W. Reynolds Stadium at 6 p.m.