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.
Offense tidies up mistakes
Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen runs a drill during practice Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014 at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney was all smiles Thursday after what he called an energetic, clean practice by the offense.
"I don't recall the ball on the ground today, so I was happy about that," Chaney said.
Quarterback Brandon Allen had another turnover-free workout, one of many he's had during preseason camp.
"We've been really getting after ball security and fumbles and interceptions," Allen said. "So I think we did a much better job of that today."
With fullbacks Kody Walker and Tyler Colquitt sidelined by injuries and walk-on fullback Chris Jones not eligible for full-contact work until today, the Razorbacks had Patrick Arinze and a "fullback by committee" approach going.
"We're getting creative offensively," running backs coach Joel Thomas said.
Tailback Jonathan Williams is still being held out because of a hamstring injury he suffered last Saturday, giving Alex Collins, Korliss Marshall and Denzel Evans more work.
"Alex, it's just more ways to tighten up his game," Thomas said.
"I'm getting more reps, plus it's more learning for me," Collins said. "It just helps me being active so much more, getting extra reps, to learn more and kind of make up for mistakes that I have out there."
Receiver Drew Morgan opened his stint with members of the media Thursday by saying he had apologized to coaches and teammates for his role in a scuffle Wednesday night with cornerback Carroll Washington in which Morgan wound up throwing a final punch after both players were corralled.
The incident set off Coach Bret Bielema because it occurred during the second offensive unit's two-minute drill, and he sent both players into the stands at Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Later, the two players took part in an extra workout together.
"If you haven't gotten in a fight in a football game or a football practice, then you aren't showing mental or physical toughness," Morgan said. "I apologized for it, but it happens. It's football."
Morgan had complained loudly about being held by defensive backs a couple of plays before the skirmish.
"Drew knew what he did wrong," receivers coach Michael Smith said. "It was a learning example, not only for our position but for our team because of the situation it happened in. Drew knew it was wrong."
Morgan said he apologized to Washington after practice before the players got in what he called a "mandatory" workout together.
The first-team offense marched down the field in the two-minute offense and scored on Brandon Allen's 13-yard pass to Keon Hatcher in the left corner of the end zone in Wednesday night's work at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
Allen had hooked up with Jared Cornelius on a pass play of 20-plus yards to move the unit past midfield.
"We had one fourth down, and we were able to convert that and score on the next play," Allen said. "It was pretty smooth."
The officials might have had a say in the two big plays, however, as Cornelius appeared to nudge cornerback Cornelius Floyd away as the ball descended, and Hatcher appeared to give a little shove to cornerback Jared Collins on the scoring play.
The offensive second and third units were stopped in the two-minute drill, with the first defense ending the second team's drive on a third-down "sack" by Trey Flowers.
Freshman offensive tackle Brian Wallace and junior defensive tackle Grady Ollison came up limping after the same play late Wednesday. Coach Bret Bielema said both twisted their ankles.
Freshman cornerback Santos Ramirez continues to be held out with a lower leg injury that required him to be in a walking boot earlier in the week.
Defensive end Deatrich Wise (knee) and tight end AJ Derby (knee) were also among the players who did not practice Thursday.
Freshman cornerback Cornelius Floyd ripped a would-be completion away from classmate Jared Cornelius on a deep throw by Brandon Allen on Wednesday night.
Cornerback Will Hines stripped receiver Eric Hawkins of the ball after a catch, then Hines scooped it up and was headed in the other direction before the play was whistled dead.
Hatcher goes high
Junior Keon Hatcher made the night's best catch, a high-jumping grab of an Austin Allen pass for an 18-yard gain during the second offense's two-minute drill period.
Hatcher has eased back ahead of sophomore Drew Morgan at the "Z" receiver spot after a strong week of practices following his drop to second team.
"Keon had a good night last night," receivers coach Michael Smith said. "Both of those guys are playing really well. They're both really supportive of each other."
Former Arkansas linebacker Otha Peters said he will continue his football career at Louisiana-Lafayette, posting on Twitter late Wednesday, "I'm a Ragin Cajun."
Peters, who was unhappy being a second-team middle linebacker, tried fullback in Monday's practice before telling Coach Bret Bielema he was leaving the program.
Sports on 08/15/2014