Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll.
QBs thinned to maximize snaps
Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen runs drills before the start of Saturday's football scrimmage at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE - The Arkansas coaches were determined to bring more clarity behind Brandon Allen at quarterback this week, and it showed in Saturday’s second spring scrimmage.
Allen, the junior returning starter, and freshmen Austin Allen and Rafe Peavey took all the snaps at quarterback in Arkansas’ 101-play workout before a couple of thousand fans at Reynolds Razorback Stadium as AJ Derby and Damon Mitchell tried out new spots on offense.
The Razorbacks notched 10 touchdowns on a mild afternoon, many of them coming in red zone work, after putting up two in their first scrimmage.
AJ Derby 8 pass from Brandon Allen (13 plays, 68 yards), John Henson kick
Kendrick Payne 20 pass from Allen (8 plays, 54 yards), Henson kick Lane Sailing 20 field goal (5 plays, 14 yards)
RED ZONE/GOAL LINE SCORES
Jonathan Williams 10 run
Keon Hatcher 8 pass from Brandon Allen
Jared Cornelius 6 pass from Allen
Kody Walker 14 run
Jeremy Sprinkle 2 pass from Allen
Walker 3 run Patrick
Arinze 2 pass from Austin Allen
Williams 1 run
Brandon Allen 17-25-2, 157 yards, 5 TDs; Rafe Peavey 4-6-1, 49 yards; Austin Allen 5-10-0, 39 yards, TD.
Alex Collins 10-47, Kody Walker 9-43, 2 TDs, Denzel Evans 11-41, Jonathan Williams 13-30, 2 TDs, Damon Mitchell 2-10, Peavey 1-3, Patrick Arinze 1-(-1), B. Allen 3-(- 12), A. Allen 7-(-36).
Keon Hatcher 5-38, TD, D’Arthur Cowan 2-38, Jared Cornelius 4-29, TD, Mitchell 1-28, Kendrick Payne 2-27, TD, Hunter Henry 2-25, AJ Derby 2-22, TD, Evans 3-19, Alex Voelzke 2-11, Williams 1-4, Arinze 1-2, TD, Jeremy Sprinkle 1-2, TD.
Tiquention Coleman 10, Martrell Spaight 10, Brooks Ellis 8, De’Andre Coley 8, Deatrich Wise 7, Darius Philon 6, Braylon Mitchell 5, Otha Peters 5, JaMichael Winston 4, Rohan Gaines 4, Tevin Mitchel 4, Taiwan Johnson 4.
TACKLES FOR LOSS
Spaight 3-7, Coleman 2-13, B. Mitchell 2-9, Peters 2-8, Philon 2-6, Karl Roesler 2-6, T. Johnson 2-5, Ke’Tyrus Marks 1-7, Lewis 1-6, Ellis 1-1, Deauntre Carr 1-1.
SACKS Coleman 2-13, Roesler 2-6, Peters 1-6, Marks 1-7, B. Mitchell 1-6, Winston 1-6, Brandon Lewis 1-6, Philon 1-3.
Ellis 1-17, Carroll Washington 1-15, Coleman 1-7
Washington 2, Wise, Winston, Lewis
Running backs Jonathan Williams and Kody Walker rushed for a pair of touchdowns each, and Alex Collins led all rushers with 47 yards on 10 carries.
Carroll Washington, Brooks Ellis and TQ Coleman all had interceptions to lead the defense, and Coleman and fellow linebacker Martrell Spaight had a team-high 10 tackles each.
Brandon Allen completed 17 of 25 passes for 157 yards with 5 touchdowns and 2 interceptions to further solidify his role as the top quarterback.
Three of Allen’s touchdowns came on third-down plays inside the 10-yard line during red zone work: an 8-yard strike to Keon Hatcher, a 6-yarder to Jared Cornelius and a 2-yarder to Jeremy Sprinkle.
Allen and the first offense also had mistakes in the red zone, including a pass from the 14 that was tipped by Deatrich Wise Jr. and intercepted by Ellis, and Darius Philon’s 3-yard sack of Allen on third-and-goal from the 5.
“We had some turnovers in the red zone,” Bielema said. “We can’t have that. We can’t give away points like that. On the flip side, it was a good job by the defense creating them.”
Allen also threw an 8-yard touchdown to Derby and a 20-yard back-shoulder score to Kendrick Payne at the end of drives covering 68 yards and54 yards, respectively.
Allen led the offense to 224 yards on his 51 snaps. Austin Allen played 33 snaps and Peavey took 15 snaps as offensive coordinator Jim Chaney intentionally increased their workloads.
“Jim really thought that if we could get Austin and Rafe Peavey a lot of reps they could make a huge jump in the next three weeks,” Coach Bret Bielema said while explaining the quarterback moves this week.
Austin Allen completed 5 of 10 passes for 39 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown to fullback Patrick Arinze during goal-line work. He was “sacked” seven times for 36 yards in losses, including back-to-back sacks during red zone work.
Peavey completed 4 of 6 passes for 49 yards. He threw no touchdowns, wasn’t sacked and was intercepted on a sideline throw by linebacker Coleman.
Derby caught a touchdown in his first scrimmage as a tight end, but his 8-yard scoring catch came 10 plays after his most memorable play of the day - dropping a would-be 51-yard touchdown pass with no defender in sight down the right sideline.
“I think it’s the first drop he’s had in team situations,” Bielema said. “He just has been catching everything, so hopefully it was just something he had to go through on that specific play.”
Mitchell turned a tunnelscreen into a 28-yard gain on his only catch and had two toss plays for 10 yards.
Bielema said he encouraged Derby and Mitchell, who combined for 36 quarterback snaps in the last scrimmage - more than a third of the team’s 101 total plays - to try their new spots for two weeks before re-examining their situations. Bielema said Derby has been enjoying tight end after initially not wanting to make a move.
The defense turned in the first big play of the scrimmage when it forced a fumble from Hatcher at the end of a 6-yard reception on the fourth play of the day. Washington recovered the loose ball for the first of his two takeaways.
“We can’t start a scrimmage with a loose ball,” Bielema said. “It’s something we have to learn. It’s unacceptable. It is not tolerated and has no place in our program.”
While Peavey moved the ball more successfully than Austin Allen on Saturday - Peavey’s snaps generated 81 yards to 56 yards for Allen - he hasn’t necessarily jumped ahead, Bielema said.
“If you were playing a game tomorrow, Austin would have the edge, just because he’s said it, he’s talked it and he’s been in the huddle a little bit more,” he said. “I thought Rafe and Austin, probably even Rafe a little bit more, really made some huge strides this week.”
The defense won on three third-down plays and one fourth-down play in goal-line work, including a sack by Karl Roesler, a combination sack by Ke’Tyrus Marks and JaMichael Winston, and a tandem tackle for a 1-yard loss by Spaight and Ellis on a fourth-and-goal carry by Collins at the 1-yard line.
Otha Peters and Taiwan Johnson combined to throw Denzel Evans for a 2-yard loss on a second-and-goal from the 1 on the scrimmage’s final series, which led to Lane Sailing’s 20-yard field goal to wrap up the day.
Sports, Pages 25 on 04/13/2014