Arkansas held a closed scrimmage Saturday night in Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, and there was some unfortunate post-practice injury news.
Earlier this week, backup MIKE linebacker Otha Peters, starting wide receiver Demetrius Wilson and backup tight end Austin Tate all went down with significant injuries. Wilson's will keep him out the rest of the year.
"Otha Peters unfortunately broke his [right] arm," Razorback head coach Bret Bielema said following Saturday's scrimmage. :"He'll be out anywhere from six-to-eight weeks. Hopefully try to get him back from the start of SEC play. I know he's got a redshirt, but we'll sort of talk through that as it goes. Doctor did the surgery yesterday. Everything was positive moving forward.
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"Demetrius Wilson tore his ACL (believed to be left knee). Demetrius has a redshirt year opportunity in front of him. We're truly blessed well be able to get him back for another year. He'll actually have surgery Wednesday.
"Austin Tate took a shot to the shoulder. Nothing whatsoever to do with the previous shoulder surgery. Same shoulder, but totally different mechanics. They went in there and put in a little plate, and he should be back at a maximum of six weeks. There's a chance to get him back even before that, so we could get him back even before the start of SEC play."
Tate's injury Tweeted
Tate's injury was announced yesterday via twitter when former Arkansas assistant and current Auburn assistant Tim Horton sent well wishes the way of Tate and his family. That's how the news broke. Redshirt freshman tight end Jeremy Sprinkle briefly discussed the injury when questioned about it, assuming the news had already been released by Bielema, which is the team's protocol.
"I had planned on telling you that in here today," Bielema said. "When I got off the practice yesterday I was made aware that obviously it has been released to the social media. We have a particular thing that I go through with our players - I think Sprink' got caught off guard because he thought maybe I had released it or whatever. I'm okay with Sprink'.
"I go over in detail - our players, our coaches, our media in-house - and of course how we release information. I forgot to review this with the Auburn staff, as well. I did call Coach Horton last night, and he called me back. We spoke at about 11 o'clock last night or whenever it was, and I just expressed that we'd like to handle our injuries in-house. I know he's got a relationship, and that's all great, but I don't think we'll have that problem moving forward. We'll take care of it, and I appreciate their support, and we'll see them later this year."
Tate will remain with the 105 players going through camp, but Peters will be removed to make room for another player. When classes start, Peters can come back and be a part of the 120-man roster.
"We brought him out because he's out six-to-eight weeks, which means he can stay here and stay engaged with the training table and get treatment and rehab, but he can't go to meetings when you take him out," Bielema said. "We're going to keep Austin in the meetings just because he's going to be back sooner than later, and he's the glue to that room. Tremendous kid, very talented, and it's someone we need to pick up the slack now."
Back at it
Starting fullback Kiero Small, starting center Travis Swanson, starting wide receiver Javontee Herndon starting strong safety Rohan Gaines and starting defensive tackle Byran Jones are all back and will practice on Monday. Backup receiver Keon Hatcher may not be back Monday but will be back at some point next week."
With Otha out, Robert Atiga and Daunte Carr are battling in the middle for the backup spot. Seior Austin Jones has taken control of the starting position. Jarrett Lake, the starter at WILL, also has experience in the middle.
True freshman Brooks Ellis, the backup at WILL, worked MIKE all last week. Ellis and cornerback D.J. Dean are two freshmen who will play a significant role this season.
"Brooks Ellis, D.J. Dean will play a lot of football for us. I think they're very intelligent. They all come from programs that we knew a lot about them," Bielema said. "I think the seniors, juniors, sophomores recognized pretty early on that they're very, very gifted. I saw D.J. Dean interacting with J-Lake the other day, an odd couple that I never would have saw together. I saw them prior to practice having a great time. Sometimes the chemistry that's developed off the field goes way farther than the chemistry developed on the field."
At the offensive skill spots, three true freshmen figure to help, including receiver Melvinson Hartfield who was awaiting clearance from the NCAA until this week.
"A couple of our freshmen have come on like crazy. At wide receiver, Drew Morgan was probably our leading receiver out there tonight. Did a tremendous job catching the football," Bielema said. "Then Melvinson Hartfield had a touchdown catch, has tremendous speed. He's got a lot of ability.
"[Running back Alex Collins continued to shine. I think the punch of Alex Collins, Jonathan Williams, you show in a difference-maker like Nate Holmes in a game. Kind of a change-up guy with the fullback when we get Kiero back in there, it's a really nice running back group."
Since last week, true freshman left tackle Dan Skipper and right tackle Denver Kirkland have been running with the second team. Sophomore starting right tackle Grady Ollison and starting senior left tackle David Hurd were pulled after jumping offside in the scrimmage.
"Our two first scoring drives on offense, running at number one tackle was Dan Skipper and Denver Kirkland for the majority of those drives. Those guys have given us great depth and will push Ollison and Hurd," Bielema said.
Allen continues to shine
The scrimmage had a very traditional start from Bielema. They worked on first and second down situations, followed by a series of third-and-one, two, four, six, eight, 10 and 12. After that standard format, they went to a series where they were backed up at their own two-yard line. Then they worked red zone, the goal line, then a move the ball game-like session. Sophomore quarterback Brandon Allen apparently had another outstanding day to follow his 16 of 17, 218-yard, one-touchdown performance in the first scrimmage.
"He had a 14-play scoring drive that overcame two penalties," Bielema said. "Obviously the whole offense did it, but Brandon Allen did it, which was unbelievable. Fourteen-play scoring drive, that's something. That says a lot about our offense."
Before a final two-minute session, Bielema created a situation where the offense had the lead with 2:56 left in the game. He gave the defense one timeout. The offense picked up a first down and ended the session in the victory formation.
"I have been blown away with the performance of Brandon Allen from the third week of spring ball to where we are today. We really tried to stress the situational side of the game today."
Scouts like Hocker
Kicker Zach Hocker hit a 57-yard field goal and a 42-yarder in the first scrimmage and impressed Bielema again tonight. Hocker does not kick every day because Bielema wants to keep him fresh. As of now, he's booming punts, kickoffs and field goals but may not do all three. One NFL scout was intrigued with him because he can do it all.
"There was a couple of NFL scouts over there today, and we went to a kickoff segment, and his first kickoff went about five yards out of the back of the end zone, and the other one was in the first row of the bleachers. He's stroking the ball in every phase," Bielema said. "He is liking life right now. I think he's enjoying what we're doing, he knows we're going to take care of him, we're going to take care of his body, we're resting him the right way, and he's stroking the ball as well as anybody I've ever been around."
Odds & Ends
Brian Buehner has moved from quarterback to wide receiver.
Lot more blitzing today.
Kelvin Fisher Jr. got a pick and the defense also stripped a ball.
Alex Voelzke has practiced really well the last two days.
If the team played a game tomorrow, true freshman Austin Allen would be the third quarterback."
Held some players out of the scrimmage to keep the starters healthy and get a look at the backups.
The players won't practice on Sunday but will pick it back up for practice No. 17 on Monday.