Morris lukewarm on final major scrimmage for Razorbacks

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Sunday, August 19, 2018
Arkansas quarterback Cole Kelley passes Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018, during practice at the university practice fields in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas quarterback Cole Kelley passes Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018, during practice at the university practice fields in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The final major scrimmage for the Arkansas Razorbacks got mixed reviews from the coaching staff.

Turnovers, pass protection issues and missed tackles were interspersed with solid running and a couple of touchdown passes Saturday.

Sophomore Cole Kelley opened the workout with the top offense, but coordinator Joe Craddock said the staff made sure to script equal time with the ones and twos for Kelley and junior Ty Storey, who threw a pair of interceptions.

Coach Chad Morris said he wasn't ready to name a starting quarterback.

"We really set it out where it would be exactly equal," said Craddock, who did not estimate the quarterback stats as he did last week. "I think going back and looking at it, just thinking out loud right now, we were pretty much 50-50 on the rep count. We'll go back and grade the film and see exactly where we were."

The practice, which had between 125 and 145 live snaps, was closed to the media but open to 300-plus former players, their wives and families, and other special guests at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

A lot of front-line players were held out all together for safety's sake -- such as Dre Greenlaw and Randy Ramsey -- and another batch of established veterans had limited work.

Morris said Friday the scrimmage would be shorter than the first one in camp, but that plan got nixed.

"The plan going in was we were going to not have as long of a scrimmage, but we got into a little situation there, kind of toward the middle of it, that I didn't think that we were pushing as hard as we needed to push," Morris said. "So we had to continue to get some good conditioning work in, and we let the scrimmage go a little longer, which is good. They needed that."

Morris indicated there were a few substitution issues and other wrinkles that need to be worked out. Coordinators John Chavis and Joe Craddock called plays from the press box.

Safeties Santos Ramirez and Joe Foucha, and nickel back D'Vone McClure all notched interceptions.

Receiver Jonathan Nance caught a fade-route touchdown pass of about 12 yards from Daulton Hyatt, Nance said. Morris said Jordan Jones caught a big touchdown pass, which might have been a 99-yard score. However, some players in the media room Saturday contended the play was blown dead for a run-by "sack" and did not credit Jones with a touchdown.

"Jordan, I think it was like a 99-yard freaking bomb he caught," senior receiver Jared Cornelius said.

While Morris seemed upbeat overall and said the Razorbacks had "stacked good days on top of good days," both coordinators looked and sounded more uptight than the previous Saturday.

"I'll be totally honest with you: I'm not satisfied nearly with the way we tackled," Chavis, the defensive coordinator, said. "You know, we'll get it fixed. We have good kids out there that are working hard, but we tackled much better in the first scrimmage. Much better.

"I don't quite understand. You know, we spend a lot of time on it. That's my responsibility to make sure we tackle well, and I will assure you we will, but we did not today. And I'm glad we didn't have a real game today because we didn't tackle well enough to win."

Sophomore safety Kamren Curl agreed with Chavis.

"It was a pretty good day, but there are still some things we have to work on, like the tackling wasn't the best we can do," Curl said. "Coach [Chavis] said it wasn't our standard and we can do better than that, and I know we can do better than that, so I'm not too worried about it."

Said Cornelius: "I think a lot of that [missed tackles] had to do with the tempo that we were rolling at today. Those guys were tired, and you could tell. Some of the longer series we got, the offense was rolling and the defense was kind of huffing and puffing."

Said defensive end Gabe Richardson: "When guys get tired, the technique goes out the door. We've got to do a better job at that. Tackling has got to be something that we do. You have to do it when you're tired, too."

Morris pointed out there were early protection issues in a scrimmage that was more pass-heavy than the first.

"We've got to get some wrinkles worked out and again even from a headset standpoint being able as a full staff going to the box we've got to work all those things out," Craddock said when discussing the pass protection.

Craddock mentioned that sophomore receiver Jarrod Barnes made "a heck of a play" on a pass over the middle.

"He took it and broke a couple of tackles and took it down the sideline to about the 30-, 35-yard line, so he did a really good job on that play.

"That's one that stood out. I know Jared Cornelius yesterday made a good play to open up practice. And those are the guys just the past few days that have really made some good plays down the field."

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