Arkansas spring football report: Sategna fitting right into Petrino's offense

Arkansas receiver Isaiah Sategna (16) makes a move, Tuesday, March 26, 2024, around assistant coach Ronnie Fouch during practice inside the Pat and Willard Walker Pavilion on the university campus in Fayetteville. (Andy Shupe/NWA Democrat-Gazette)

FAYETTEVILLE — Watching Arkansas receiver Isaiah Sategna catch passes over the middle and separate from defenders with his breakaway speed, as he did in Tuesday’s ninth practice of the spring, it’s easy to envision him excelling in coordinator Bobby Petrino’s offense.

Sategna, a redshirt sophomore from Fayetteville, shows the same skills Joe Adams and Jarius Wright did when Petrino was head coach at Arkansas from 2008-11

“He’s got that opportunity to be Joe and Jay Wright, [with] that kind of speed and quickness and change of direction,” Petrino said Tuesday. “I’ve been impressed with his hands.

“Sometimes when guys go that fast, they can’t throw their hands up at the right time, and he’s really natural at it.”

The Razorbacks opened their fourth week of spring drills inside Walker Pavilion on a misty, overcast day with the temperature in the high 50s.

Sategna had five receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown in Saturday’s scrimmage.

“I was really happy with the yards he got after contact in the scrimmage,” Petrino said. “Right now he would be that guy that can run and let him touch the ball out of the backfield some and just get it in his hands, because he’s fast enough to make big plays for us.”

Pick-6s

The Arkansas defense turned in a few would-be interception returns for touchdowns inside Walker Pavilion, the most notable coming from safety Jayden Johnson.

During situational work for the first units, Johnson read quarterback Taylen Green’s rollout right and flip toward tight end Var’keyes Gumms in the end zone. Johnson charged in front of the pass, picked it near the goal line and headed toward a 100-yard return before the play was whistled dead.

Johnson also stripped the ball free from a ball carrier earlier in the workout and thudded tailback Braylen Russell so hard that Russell’s helmet popped off and went rolling on the turf.

During work by the reserves, defensive back RJ Johnson picked off an unidentified quarterback and would likely have gone untouched for a score.

With the third units on the field, cornerback Aiden McCowan picked off KJ Jackson’s play-action throw at the 2 during a “coming out” period and rolled into the end zone for the short score.

2-minute deal

Quarterback Taylen Green led a successful two-minute drive, which began with the offense at its 48 and needing a field goal to win with 32 seconds remaining and no timeouts.

Green completed a 17-yard pass to Tyrone Broden to open the sequence. After an incomplete pass intended for Isaac TeSlaa, Green connected with TeSlaa for 10 yards to the 25-yard line. The unit rushed to the ball and got a spike with seconds left on the clock, and Vito Calvaruso banged through a 43-yard field goal.

Anton Juncaj was credited with a proximity sack on KJ Jackson on the first snap by the second team. Jackson hit Davion Dozier down a left seam for a 27-yard gain on the next play to reach the 28, but time ran out before Jackson could run a spike play.

Shamar Easter, who had a strong day, caught a 12-yard pass from Jacolby Criswell to open the third unit’s two-minute drill, but the sequence died at the 45-yard line after an offsides penalty.

Familiar faces

New running backs coach Kolby Smith and receivers coach Ronnie Fouch have both previously worked for offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino, who said Tuesday their presence helped speed up offensive installation.

Smith and Fouch were hired by Coach Sam Pittman to replace Jimmy Smith and Kenny Guiton, who left for TCU and Wisconsin, respectively.

Kolby Smith played at Petrino for Louisville and was his assistant at Western Kentucky and Louisville. Fouch was an assistant under Petrino at Missouri State.

“I think that’s the huge advantage of Coach Pittman hiring Ronnie Fouch and Kolby Smith,” Petrino said. “They already know the offense. They know how to teach it. Kolby played in it, he knows how to run in it, get lots of yards and score touchdowns in it. So that allowed us to go a little bit faster.

“You see the other coaches that it’s brand new to going into Kolby’s office or going into Ronnie’s office and asking them questions. That’s the advantage of having the knowledge of the offense, is they can teach it not only to the players, but the other coaches as well.”

Mellow Bobby?

Bobby Petrino was asked if he’s mellowed since his time at Arkansas as head coach from 2008-11.

“You guys know, I’ve always been mellow,” Petrino said with a smile. “I don’t get it, I don’t get it. I’m a nice, easy-going, happy guy.”

Injury updates

Tailback Rashod Dubinion wore a green no-contact jersey Tuesday but participated in team periods as well as individual work.

Other players in green were tight end Ty Washington and walk-on linebacker Justin Logan.

Receivers Andrew Armstrong and Bryce Stephens participated in group drills but did not go through team periods, and receiver Jaedon Wilson, who missed Saturday’s scrimmage, was not seen.

Kicking update

Vito Calvaruso went 5 for 6 on field goals with the first unit Tuesday.

The 6-3, 210-pounder made a 43-yard field goal to end a successful two-minute drill. A few minutes later, he missed a 56-yard try wide left to start the kicking drills, then connected on field goals of 28, 35, 42 and 47 yards in succession.

Lefty kicker Kyle Gallegos made a 28-yarder on his only try, then Hawaii transfer Matthew Shipley missed right from 36, 42 and 48 yards. The first try hit off the right upright and the other two stayed right off the foot.