UA Specialists and Defense Shine in Annual Fan
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A consistent performance from the Razorback special teams and a solid effort from the UA defense highlighted the annual fan day scrimmage held in front of an estimated crowd of 10,000 at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Saturday night.
Sophomore placekicker Brennan O’Donohoe and freshman placekicker David Carlton combined to connect on six field goal attempts while junior punter Richie Butler averaged 51.6 yards on seven punts including a long of 62.
“I was happy with the way our kicking game took to the field,” Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt said. “David and Brennan did a good job for us and Richie continues to give us great yardage on punts. We also had a chance to put some guys back in our return game.”
The Razorback defense was impressive as well allowing only 114 yards rushing and 77 yards passing in the two-hour scrimmage. Sophomore free safety Ken Hamlin and senior cornerback Corey G. Harris led the team with six tackles. Senior linebacker Jermaine Petty stood out on the defensive side of the ball with a total of five tackles including an eight-yard sack.
“Petty did an awesome job of leading us,” Nutt said. “He has had a great camp so far. On defense we had some guys chasing the ball like Carlos Hall and Curt Davis. Jermaine Brooks made some plays tonight. Our secondary was in the right place on most every play with the exception of a couple of well-thrown balls. We knew that we had helped ourselves in the secondary and I think it shows.”
With many of the Razorbacks’ primary offensive weapons sitting out a majority of the action, the UA offense had trouble at times moving consistently. Sophomore quarterback Zak Clark was two of seven passing for 16 yards. Clark also threw the only interception of the scrimmage when Bo Mosley picked off a pass on a fade pattern. Sophomore transfer signal caller Ryan Sorahan was five of nine passing for 23 yards including a 13-yard touchdown to Mark Pierce.
Sophomore tailback Brandon Holmes led the scrimmage in rushing with 32 yards on six carries. Freshman quarterback Matt Jones earned 32 yards on the ground as well as connecting with Gerald Howard through the air for a five-yard touchdown. Junior tailback Fred Talley carried once for 12 yards while sophomore tailback Cedric Cobbs rushed three times for eight yards. Pierce scored the only rushing touchdown of the night on a two-yard gain.
“We aren’t disappointed (in our offense), we just need to keep improving,” Nutt said. “Our quarterbacks did a good job of getting rid of the ball like we asked them to. We wanted to get a look at some of our other backs like Decori Birmingham and Mark Pierce. Pierce made some great plays, but he has to protect the football. We didn’t really let our offensive line get into a groove. Every time they got close we were changing in and out.”
Perhaps most importantly, the Razorbacks came out of Saturday night’s scrimmage with minimum damage on the injury front. Freshman defensive tackle Arrion Dixon sprained his left shoulder in what has been a recurring ailment for the Wynne, Ark., native. Freshman strong safety Lerinezo Robinson bruised his right knee while junior outside linebacker Gavin Walls and sophomore center Dan Doughty suffered sprained left ankles. Only Dixon is expected to miss significant practice time.
Arkansas will hit the practice field once on Sunday before resuming two-a-day drills on Monday. The Razorbacks open the season on Thursday, Aug. 30 vs. UNLV at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, Ark. The game will be televised by ESPN.
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