Scrimmage stats: Lack of downpour disappoints Morris

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Thursday, March 29, 2018
Arkansas players go through drills during spring practice Wednesday, March 28, 2018, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas players go through drills during spring practice Wednesday, March 28, 2018, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- One of the things Chad Morris would have added to the Arkansas Razorbacks' rain-soaked practice Wednesday -- in addition to a faster tempo and sharper execution -- would have been harder rain.

"There was no way in the world we were going to stay indoors," Morris said after asking reporters whether anybody needed a towel. "I was really disappointed because I was hoping it would be raining harder.

"I was really hoping for an absolute torrential downpour to see how our guys responded."

Instead, a mostly light rain fell virtually throughout the two-hour workout for the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville that featured roughly 115 live-tackling snaps on the artificial turf practice field.

Because of the conditions, Morris wanted a "run-heavy" scrimmage, and there was a lot of ground work in the ninth of 15 spring practices.

Freshman Maleek Williams led the way with 79 yards and a 1-yard touchdown run on 9 carries. Chase Hayden had a 9-yard touchdown run among his 8 carries for 45 yards.

But the Razorbacks also connected on some big passes, including Grayson Gunter's 42-yard touchdown catch from the slot on Cole Kelley's fourth snap of the scrimmage and the eighth play overall.

Freshman Mike Woods caught a 30-yard scoring pass from Daulton Hyatt at the end of a sharp drive, sparked by three consecutive runs from Williams and Hayden that totaled 55 yards.

Tight end Cheyenne O'Grady caught a team-high five passes for 35 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown from Ty Storey.

The starting defense had a dominating day, with at least four "sacks," including two by end Randy Ramsey, and solid work against the run.

"Randy Ramsey is continuing every day to set himself apart and is really becoming just a force at that rush end right there," Morris said.

The biggest position move of the day came on defense, where junior McTelvin Agim worked at nose guard almost exclusively after starting spring drills at end.

Morris indicated Agim will have the ability to play inside and out, and he pointed out the move helps with depth and was made easier by Gabe Richardson's fast ascent opposite Ramsey.

Richardson was involved in one of the day's most notable plays, a "sack" that touched off a quick, heated exchange. Moments later, Richardson and offensive guard Jalen Merrick were trading blows, and Merrick landed a knockdown shot when he caught Richardson off balance.

"We have tempers flare at times and I love it," Morris said. "Because at the end of the day when we come back together we're Razorbacks. But when we're on that field, it's iron sharpening iron."

Kelley had the better day among the quarterbacks competing for the starting job, although Morris said he would not be announcing a starter until some time in fall camp.

The 6-7 sophomore Kelley completed 9 of 14 passes for 129 yards in the unofficial stat count. In addition to the early touchdown throw to Gunter, Kelley hit La'Michael Pettway for a 4-yard touchdown in a red-zone period.

Kelley was rolling right on the play and shunted the pass to Pettway just before running out of bounds while shouting "That's six right there, baby!"

Storey completed 8 of 21 passes for 94 yards and 1 touchdown, and he threw an interception to reserve linebacker D'Vone McClure during a two-minute drill late in the scrimmage. The play was blown dead, but McClure had broken past the line of scrimmage and appeared headed for a long touchdown return.

"I thought Cole Kelley has put together about three really good practices," Morris said. "The last three. The practice right before spring break and Monday was an OK day for him. But I thought today he really picked up where we wanted to see him."

Dropped balls in the wet conditions, by receivers and on snaps, became a moderate issue.

Reserve cornerback Jarques McClellion had the day's other interception with a pick against Carson Proctor.

Linebacker Derrick Munson was awarded possession at the bottom of a big pile right at the goal line on a muffed exchange between Austin Aune and Kendrick Jackson, who had 8 carries for 28 yards and a touchdown.

Junior Deon Stewart had one of the day's best catches, a 30-yard grab from Storey in traffic down to the 5-yard line. An apparent touchdown run by Storey on the next snap appeared to be blown dead. However, three plays later -- after the Merrick-Richardson flare up -- Storey found O'Grady in the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown.

Asked about the starting defense, Morris replied, "I thought, like everybody else, there's a lot of improvement that's got to be made there. But I love our aggressiveness.

"I think we're very sound at linebacker. Dre Greenlaw and 'Scoota' [De'Jon Harris], those two guys definitely set the edge. We played a little more nickel today than we've seen, and that was by design."

Morris said the Razorbacks were sloppy Monday after the 10-day spring break, but he was encouraged by the energy he saw Wednesday.

"Their attitude coming down from meetings was incredible," Morris said. "They were ready.

"I'm proud of our players. I'm proud of this football team, where we are. We've got to continue to strain them and train them right now. They're responding, and that's all we can ask."

Razorbacks scrimmage statistics

Unofficial statistics, some estimated yardages

Scoring plays

Grayson Gunter 42 pass from Cole Kelley

Connor Limpert 37 FG

Chase Hayden 9 run

Limpert 33 FG

Cheyenne O’Grady 8 pass from Ty Storey

Kendrick Jackson 4 run

La’Michael Pettway 4 pass from Kelley

Maleek Williams 1 run

Mike Woods 30 pass from Daulton Hyatt

De’Vone McClure interception return

Passing

Cole Kelley 9-14-0, 129 yards, 2 TDs

Ty Storey 8-21-1, 94 yards, TD

Daulton Hyatt 2-3-0, 40 yards, TD

Austin Aune 1-2-0, 37 yards

Jack Lindsey 1-1-0, 18 yards

Carson Proctor 1-4-1, 0 yards

Rushing

Maleek Williams 9-79, TD

Chase Hayden 8-45, TD

T.J. Hammonds 8-34

Devwah Whaley 7-38

Kasey Montrois 7-30

Kendrick Jackson 8-28, TD

Austin Aune 3-28

Daulton Hyatt 2-14

Ty Storey 1-(minus-4)

Carson Proctor 2-(minus-12)

Cole Kelley 5-(minus-15), TD

Receiving

Grayson Gunter 2-65, TD

La’Michael Pettway 2-47, TD

Mike Woods 2-38, TD

Cheyenne O’Grady 5-35, TD

Deon Stewart 1-30

De’Vion Warren 1-20

Tyson Morris 2-19

Jonathan Nance 2-18

T.J. Hammonds 1-12

Gary Cross 1-10

Chase Hayden 1-6

Maleek Williams 1-6

Will Gragg 1-0

SACKS Randy Ramsey 2; Jamario Bell; Chevin Calloway; Damani Carter; Dre Greenlaw; Isaiah Nichols; David Porter; Michael Taylor

INTERCEPTIONS Jarques McClellion; D’Vone McClure

PASSES DEFENSED Montaric Brown 2; Chevin Calloway 2; Kamren Curl; Ryan Pulley; Santos Ramirez

Sports on 03/29/2018

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