Arkansas football will host open scrimmage Saturday morning

Arkansas quarterback Taylen Green (10) passes Thursday, March 14, 2024, during practice in Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville. (Andy Shupe/NWA Democrat-Gazette)

FAYETTEVILLE — The Arkansas Razorbacks football team will undergo its longest live tackling session of spring drills Saturday at Reynolds Razorback Stadium and fans are welcome to watch the work.

Coach Sam Pittman said he anticipates somewhere around 130 live tackling snaps in the eighth workout of the spring, which will take the Hogs past the halfway point of the 15 allotted workouts. The stadium scrimmage will start not long after the flex period and some individual drills, which will start around 9 a.m.

Officials said fans are asked to enter through Gate 14 beginning at 8:30 a.m. Parking in Lot 44 is free and fans should sit on the east side. Outside food and drinks are welcome.

“I think each guy who’s playing with the ones and twos will get about 50 snaps,” Pittman said following Thursday morning’s split workout between the Walker Pavilion and the outdoor turf practice field.

“There will be some situations, third down. We’re going to [run] get the ball back, two-minute. The threes will probably get around that 30 mark. I think it’ll be about a 130-, 140-play scrimmage. And it will conclude with the get the ball back, two-minute drill.”

The defense won that drill Thursday, with both the first and second units holding the offense out when it needed a touchdown to take the lead. The top offense with quarterback Taylen Green reached fourth and goal at the 17 before throwing incomplete in the end zone for Tyrone Broden. The second unit with Malachi Singleton at the controls ran out of time after reaching the 23.

Pittman said showing advancement Saturday is the name of the game in his view.

“I just want to see how much we improve,” he said. “I feel like our tackling has been decent. I’d like to see us improve in that.”

The Razorbacks have already gone through two live tackling days, a closed workout on Saturday during the first week of drills and a 72-play session on the Thursday before Spring Break.

On the flip side of better tackling, there’s offensive ideals.

“I’d like to see us break some tackles,” Pittman said. “I’d like to see us throw and catch consistently. I like what we’re doing secondary-wise. But the intermediate pass game, I would like for us to be a little bit better on the crossing underneath routes.”

The collection of running backs — Ja’Quinden Jackson, Rashod Dubinion, Isaiah Augustave, Dominique Johnson and freshman Braylen Russell — all had good pile-moving scores in the most recent scrimmage work, but new running backs coach Kolby Smith said he would like to see even more.

“I’m looking for big plays, explosive runs,” Smith said. “I want explosive plays from the backs like 15-yard runs, 20-yard receiving plays.

“Setting up in the pocket and protecting when we get blitzed — just being sound in those situations. At the end of the day, I want them to have fun.”

New receivers coach Ronnie Fouch said he wants to see consistency from the offensive units.

“Like Coach Pittman said, in the pass game, we want a cleaner day and go make some plays,” Fouch said. “Get the ball in the end zone for sure.

“Just get our confidence going on offense and get the flow. Get in and out of the huddle. We’re still trying to get used to different periods of tempo, fastballs, huddling. Just operation things is what I want to see go well.”

Pittman has not always conducted open scrimmages for the fans through his first four seasons, but he indicated he wanted fans to feel more in touch with the program heading into his fifth season as the Hogs look to bounce back from a 4-8 record.

Pittman also said he would like for the entire operation to look smooth.

“I just want it to function well,” he said. “I want good snaps. We had a few [Thursday] that weren’t good. And they weren’t terrible. We’re not snapping it on the ground, over the head, all that kind of stuff.

“But I want that consistent inside-the-frame snap and we’re rolling on offense and defense, and just improve off the last two times we’ve [scrimmaged].

“I can’t really say that we’ve done anything terrible, where I’m going, ‘Oh man, oh man, oh man.’ I would just like to be a little bit more consistent and a little bit better this scrimmage than we were last scrimmage.”