FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Arkansas football team participated in a closed scrimmage Saturday morning at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in preparation for the upcoming season which begins with an Aug. 30 opener against Western Illinois. The Razorbacks played through 135 snaps during the workout. Head coach Bobby Petrino was pleased with the play of the offense.
“I think we came out on offense and executed well,” Petrino said. “The offensive line did a nice job blocking and Michael Smith and Dennis Johnson had some big runs.”
Smith entered preseason camp slotted as the No. 1 running back, while Johnson, a freshman out of Texarkana, is battling the rest of the backs unit for playing time.
Under center, senior Casey Dick continued to make strides as the leader of the offense. Petrino said Dick did a nice job during the scrimmage and was impressed with the poise of his quarterback after throwing an interception.
“What I like is that he came back later, called the exact same play and threw a touchdown,” Petrino said.
The receiving group was productive, led by London Crawford who made some big plays after the catch as well. Petrino said the youngsters had a pretty good day and pointed out freshman Joe Adams for coming out and showing his speed within the offense.
On defense, Petrino said he was happy to see the defense creating turnovers which will definitely contribute to the unit’s success during the season. The Razorback head coach would like to see his defense be more active around the opposing quarterback.
“We still need to work on pass rushing and getting people to the football,” Petrino said. “I thought we were a little better defending the run today.”
As a unit, Petrino said the defense still has room for improvement as the season draws near. He said regardless of whom is playing on the defensive side of the ball, the unit is going to have to make plays.
“We still have to get all 11 guys on the same page,” Petrino said. “Because of injuries and how young we are, (the defense) will be a little behind the offense for now.”
Redshirt freshman Jerry Franklin was a bright spot for the Arkansas defense during the scrimmage. Petrino said the linebacker’s hard work over the summer has paid off.
“Jerry is doing a nice job and has improved a lot since the spring,” Petrino said. “He’s gotten better at defending the pass, which is where he’s really improved.”
The Razorbacks will return to practice next week with less than two weeks until the season opener against Western Illinois. Kickoff for the home opener is scheduled for 6 p.m. For more news about Arkansas football, visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.