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Back-and-forth, balanced battle
If the Arkansas defense had been awarded 7 points each time it stopped the offense during Saturday's Fan Day Scrimmage, it would have come out with a 70-77 victory, including a 28-42 win when the No. 1 defense faced the No. 1 offense in front of an estimated 15,000 fans in Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
The No. 1 offense ran 68 plays and put up 372 yards with 4 touchdowns against the starting defense, which was without starting linebackers Tenarius Wright and Alonzo Highsmith and safety Eric Bennett, who are all expected to return on Monday, according to head coach John L. Smith.
In 123 total plays, the Razorback offense put up 753 yards (6.1 yards per play), including 514 through the air and 239 by foot with 10 total touchdowns. That number of plays is approximately 2 games worth of plays, which breaks down to roughly 377 yards for every 61 plays. The No. 1 offense started off 4-for-4 on third down but did not convert the next 4 and ended up just 6-for-13 on the night.
"This scrimmage really started Monday," senior receiver Cobi Hamilton said. "We prepared ourselves early this week to come out here and have a great outing. I think that's what we did."
Starting quarterback Tyler Wilson was 22 of 37 (59.5 percent) for 252 yards and 3 touchdowns while backup Brandon Allen went 16 of 23 (69.6 percent) for 262 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. The No. 2 offense would have beaten the No. 2 defense under this fictional scoring system by a score of 35-28.
"We had a lot of opportunities , we just kept stubbing ourselves in the foot," Wilson said. "We had too many receivers on the line-of-scrimmage penalty, we miss a protection here, we miss a protection there. We don't hit the right hole, we don't run the right route, we don't make a good throw - on me. And all that stuff ties together and you don't end up executing like you need to execute."
Jonathan Williams shines
Dennis Johnson was unavailable due to a family matter, and Knile Davis did not take contact as a precaution, but in their absence true freshman Jonathan Williams stole the show, especially in the second half. At the end of the day, Williams carried 18 times for 116 yards and 2 touchdowns, including a 24-yard touchdown against the No. 1 defense to cap the scrimmage on a drive where he had 5 rushes for 48 yards. He also caught 1 pass for a 16-yard score.
"He's a really impressive freshman," senior safety Ross Rasner said. "He knows how to run with low pad level, and he knows how to find the first down. He really doesn't look like a freshman out there. He knows how to find the hole, and he hits it hard."
"He's going to be a real good back, and he can step in and play. He's mature enough as a freshman, physically, and really mentally. Picks the offense up pretty darn quick," Razorback head coach John L. Smith said. "Jonathan Williams is a good football player, and we tried to get him a little bit more. He's got real good vision, and he's getting better all the time. Once in a while he's missing some reads and he's cutting it back when he maybe shouldn't be and things like that, but he's a good football player, and I think you probably noticed that tonight."
Others who missed the scrimmage were wide receiver Keante Minor, tight end Brett Weir, linebacker Brad Shearin and wide receiver Scotty Thurman Jr.. Weir is dealing with a second concussion, according to Smith. In related news Smith said Jeremiah Jackson is now on medical hardship, meaning his football career at Arkansas is over but he will remain on scholarship, not affecting the 85 total allowed by the NCAA.
"We're hoping to have [Minor] back, I would guess by Wednesday, so it's probably going to be a couple more days. It's an AC (shoulder ligament)," Smith said.
Senior Ronnie Wingo ran hard, and while he never broke off a long run, he finished with 19 rushes for 77 yards.
Hamilton back to old self
After a disappointing first scrimmage, Hamilton showed up big-time with 11 catches for 166 yards and 2 touchdowns, including a 65-yard catch-and-run where he broke tackle attempts from defensive starters Rohan Gaines, Ross Rasner and Tevin Mitchel.
"Didn't know any three of them were there," Hamilton said. "That's just stuff that comes from the practice field. You do that stuff in practice, so it just kind of comes natural to you in a game. it's the same guys out there in 7-on-7, in team. So, you run those plays over-and-over, and you get that feeling in a game. Really, nothing's changed, it's just they're live tackling."
True freshman MeKale McKay had 2 big catches for 76 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Austin Tate had a big day with 4 catches for 65 yards and a score. Chris Gragg had 3 catches for 26 yarsd and a touchdown, and Demetrius Wilson had 4 catches for 56 yards.
"You might see him play a lot this year," Smith said. "McKale is a tremendous athlete. He's going to be able to help us. He can go up and catch the ball. Football-wise, he's going to have to continue to develop. He's a little bit green as far as that goes, but he's a tremendous talent and a big target."
The question still remains, 'will Heisman hopeful Knile Davis take on live tacklers in practice before the first game?' Davis has not been tackled to the ground since his 2011 season ended before it began last August with a broken ankle. Davis has been impressive in practices and is being held out for no other reason than precautionary measures.
"Before practice, I hit him, knocked him to the ground, so that was enough, "John L. Smith quipped. "We've always had a philosophy...'get the good guys to the game.' So, I don't know."
On the first drive, the No. 1 offense capped a 10-play, 65-yard drive with a 6-yard touchdown run by Small. Wilson was 5 of 6 on the drive for 45 yards, including a 12-yard completion to Gragg on third-and-6 from the 49-yard line.
The No. 2 offense got on the board on their first possession, and it was almost identical to the first team's scoring drive, 11 plays, 65 yards with Allen going 5 of 6 for 55 yards. Allen's first pass was a wide-open drop by Julian Horton for what would have been a 65-yard touchdown. He ended up capping the drive with a 16-yard strike to Williams. Williams converted a third-and-2, and Allen hit Mitchell to convert a third-and-3 on the drive.
Wilson engineered a 9-play, 65-yard drive. On 2nd-and-3, Wilson appeared to be intercepted by defensive end Chris Smith. Smith was then stripped by Wilson, but the coaches told the referees to signal it incomplete. The next play, Wilson hit Gragg for a 4-yard touchdown to make it 21 points in-a-row, including 13 by the No. 1 offense against the No. 1 defense.
"Yes. It was kind of funny because I saw Tyler. He threw it, and I tipped it, and when I tipped it I caught it and came down. I heard the whistle, so I'm kind of looking around and Tyler comes out of nowhere and stripped it," Chris Smith said. "The referee said they were going with the coaches on that one, but I think it was [an interception and fumble], but I stopped because I heard the whistle. I think he could have thrown it a little bit over my head, but I just got lucky."
"I had Morgan Linton wide-open in the end zone. I can't believe I missed him. I told Morgan I need to go buy him dinner now," Wilson said.
Allen then trotted onto the field and picked up 3 first downs in-a-row and finished the 4-play, 65-yard drive with a 30-yard touchdown lob to McKay to make it 28 points, 14 of which came from the No. 2 offense against the No. 2 defense.
Wilson hit Hamilton over the middle on the fourth drive, and Hamilton did the rest as he eluded 3 tackle attempts to get to the end zone for a 65-yard score and the third-straight touchdown by the No. 1 offense and 35 points for the entire offense.
Things got different from there on out. The defense opened it up and started calling more stunts. The result was 6-straight stops by the defense. The next 4 times the first teams faced each other, the defense won out.
"We've just got to keep it up offensively and defensively and challenge each other every day," Chris Smith said. "I think around the fourth or fifth series we started opening up and everything. Everything was a little vanilla when we first came out there, a lot of base stuff and everything like that. I think we started opening up around the fourth series."
Everything started when the 2-defense held Allen's offense to a 3-and-out, and then Wilson's bunch to a 3-and-out. Next walk-on Dakota Baggett intercepted Allen. Then, the No. 1 offense went 3-and-out on an Alan Turner pass-breakup, and Jared Green sacked Allen for a 5-yard loss on fourth-and-3 after 4 plays.
Wilson put together a9-play drive, but Smith sacked Wilson for a 7-yard loss on second-and-10, forcing a third-and-17 pass attempt that fell incomplete. Giving the defense a touchdown for each time it stopped the offense, it's 35-42 in favor of the D.
Allen answered on the next drive to end the 6-drive drought when he found Morgan Linton for a 2-yard touchdown after an 8-play, 65-yard drive. The key play in the drive came on third-and-11 fromt he 49-yard line when Allen found Demetrius Dean for a 12-yard pickup and a critical first down (42-42).
Wilson and the No. 1 offense when 3-and-out after he hit Hamilton for no gain on third-and-6, making it 4 unsuccessful drives, in-a-row (42-49). Allen and the 2s put together a 4-play drive that ended in an Allen-to-Tate 46-yard touchdown (49-49).
Facing a 4-drive drought, Wilson and the No. 1 offense got it together with a 9-play, 65-yard drive. The offense needed a fourth down conversion and got it when Wilson hit Hamilton for 10 yard on fourth-and-10 from the defense's 32-yard line. The next play, Wilson hit Hamilton for a 21-yard touchdown. Wilson went 4 of 5 on the drive for 51 yards and the score (56-49).
The No. 2 offense got on the board for the third time in-a-row when they marched 65 yards in 5 plays. Allen only completed 1 of his 3 pass attempts, but it was a 46-yarder to McKay down to the 9-yard line. The next play, Williams rushed for the touchdown (63-49).
After 2 Wingo runs for 2 yards and a Wilson incompletion, the No. 1 offense went 3-and-out (63-56). The No. 1 offense could not convert a third-and-13 or a fourth-and-7 at the 26-yard line. (63-63). In Brian Buehner's only series, he threw an interception to Ryan Farr on the second play (63-70).
Taylor Reed came in and kept the offense on the field for 12 plays, but he went incomplete on a third-and-7 and had to convert a fourth-and-7 with a questionable 8-yard run (quarterbacks are not tackled). Reed's offense was later held on fourth-and-19 from the 18-yard line of the defense (63-72).
The final drive was the 'Jonathan Williams Drive' as he carried 5 times for 48 yards and capped the 8-play series with a 24-yard touchdown run on second-and-10 (70-77, defense).
By awarding the defense 7 points each time they stopped the offense, the No. 1 defense beat the No. 1 offense 28-42, with stops on 6 of the 10 drives. The No. 2 offense beat the No. 2 defense 35-28, and the reserve defense beat the reserve offense 0-14.
Compiled by Danny West
Tyler Wilson - 22 of 37, 252 yards, 3 TDs
Brandon Allen - 16 of 23, 262 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs
Brian Buehner - 0 of 1, 1 INT
Taylor Reed - 0 of 4
TEAM: 38 of 65, 514 yards, 6 TDs, 3 INTs
Jonathan Williams - 18 carries, 116 yards, 2 TDs
Ronnie Wingo - 19 carries, 77 yards
Kody Walker - 6 carries, 30 yards
Nate Holmes - 7 carries, 23 yards
Kiero Small - 1 carry, 6 yards, TD
Taylor Reed - 2 carries, 12 yards
Donovan Roberts - 1 carry, 1 yard
Tyler Wilson - 3 carries, -21 yards
Brandon Allen - 1 carry, -5 yards
TEAM: 58 carries, 239 yards, 3 TDs
Cobi Hamilton - 11 rec., 166 yards, 2 TDs
Mekale McKay - 2 rec., 76 yards, 1 TD
Austin Tate - 4 rec., 65 yards, 1 TD
Chris Gragg - 3 rec., 26 yards, 1 TD
Jonathan Williams - 1 rec., 16 yards, TD
Morgan Linton - 2 rec., 9 yards, TD
Brandon Mitchell - 1 rec., 5 yards
Keon Hatcher - 1 rec., 7 yards
Javontee Herndon - 1 rec., 12 yards
Demetrius Dean - 2 rec., 24 yards
Demetrius Wilson - 4 rec., 56 yards
Ronnie Wingo - 4 rec., 33 yards
Kiero Small - 1 rec., 3 yards
Kody Walker - 1 rec., 11 yards
Dakota Bagget - 1
Jerry Mitchell - 1
Daunte Carr - 1
Mekale McKay - 1
Mekale McKay - 1
Trey Flowers - 2
Jared Greene - 1
Chris Smith - 1
Austin Flynn - 1
Horace Arkadie - 1
Alfred Davis - 1
Colton Miles-Nash - 1
Chris Smith - 1
Dequinta Jones - 1
Kaelon Kelleybrew - 1
Will Hines - 1
Dakota Bagget - 1