Razorbacks spring football report:

Top RBs impress Craddock

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Sunday, March 10, 2019
Arkansas running back Devwah Whaley carries the ball during a scrimmage Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas running back Devwah Whaley carries the ball during a scrimmage Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- University of Arkansas offensive coordinator Joe Craddock praised the work of top running backs Devwah Whaley and Chase Hayden after Saturday's first major scrimmage of spring.

Whaley had a run of about 45 yards on the second snap of the live-tackling work, then Hayden sprinted through a big hole for a 25-yard score on the next play to put the first offense on the board.

"I thought those guys did a good job of being patient and hitting it," Craddock said. "I thought our O-line did a good job of blocking."

Craddock liked what the top backs did on top of their running.

"I was really proud of those guys, honestly," Craddock said. "Early on, we were working a couple of new protections and doing some things different, and I remember Chase Hayden really picking up a couple of really good blitz pickups. And doing a really nice job to get the ball out.

"So I was really proud of that, to see them understanding what we're trying to do from a protection standpoint and pick up the pressures so we could get the ball out. I thought those guys did a nice job today. I can't brag on those guys enough."

Former defensive back Jordon Curtis had a couple of solid runs and at least one reception with the second offensive unit and converted walk-on receiver Jackson Salley came in late and had two big runs, including a touchdown.

"He looked good," Craddock said. "We put him in two plays, and he averaged like 20 yards. We might have found him a new position, but I'd have to go back and look at it."

'Belt' fun

Defensive coordinator John Chavis said the players have been excited about the awarding of a "championship belt," which has stayed on the defensive side through the early part of spring drills.

"Oh yeah, it's creating competition in practice," Chavis said. "They take a lot of pride in it. You do everything you can to make practice fun, but also make it as demanding as you possibly can."

The Razorback football Twitter account put out a video of Chavis holding up the belt after Thursday's practice. The belt is styled after a boxing championship belt with a Razorback logo in the middle surrounded by "stones."

Asked who won the belt Saturday, Chavis deferred, saying, "You'd have to ask Coach Morris. He didn't tell me yet."

Players on both sides of the ball said the defense reclaimed the belt with three takeaways Saturday.

Two downs for 10

Offensive coordinator Joe Craddock said poor first-down efficiency that led to too many third-and-longs was one of the biggest problems the first-year staff encountered last season.

This spring, a heavy emphasis on those two areas is part of the daily awarding of the championship belt, along with turnovers. The Razorbacks are focused on making first down important.

"We're almost treating it like Canadian football in spring, and we're really trying to get a first down every two plays and stay out of all third downs," Craddock said. "So, we do that, and we'll obviously move the chains better, stay out of third-and-longs and be able to move the ball a lot better than we did last year."

Injury report

Right guard Shane Clenin wore a walking boot on his right foot and did not participate in Saturday's scrimmage.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Daulton Hyatt appeared to suffer a finger or hand injury during the early portion of practice.

Offensive tackle Noah Gatlin, defensive ends Dorian Gerald and Courtre Alexander, cornerback Britto Tutt and safety Micahh Smith were among several other players who did not participate.

First line

With right tackle Noah Gatlin still out with an illness and Shane Clenin sidelined by a right foot or ankle injury, the first-team players at those spots were redshirt freshman Ryan Winkel at right guard and sophomore Dalton Wagner at right tackle.

Junior Ty Clary started at center, with Austin Capps at left guard and Colton Jackson at right tackle.

Kicks in

Connor Limpert went 3 of 4 on field goals, converting from 30, 39 and 42 yards. He also had a 35-yard boot that went knuckleball and fell short and left.

Guests

Dozens and dozens of elite prospects and their parents and family members attended the workout. Running back Rakeem Boyd, an active recruiter for the Hogs on social media and in person, visited with some of the prospects on the sideline.

The staff of Independence (Kan.) Community College, where Boyd played in 2017, visited en masse Saturday.

Among the ex-Hogs at Reynolds Razorback Stadium were Jared Cornelius, Hjalte Froholdt, Ryan Mallett, Drew Morgan and Michael Taylor.

Morgan posed for pictures with Arkansas super fan Canaan Sandy prior to the scrimmage. Mallett jokingly swerved his truck toward quarterback Ben Hicks, who was walking into the stadium, and blew his horn while looking for a parking space at the Smith Center.

Sports on 03/10/2019

Discussion

Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.