Defense Dominates Arkansas? First Spring Scrimmage

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas’ first football scrimmage of the spring was dominated by the defense as the Razorbacks ran through about 50 plays inside the Willard and Pat Walker Pavilion on Saturday.

Head coach Houston Nutt’s club practiced for about 40 minutes and was scheduled to move to Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium for the scrimmage, but the threat of inclement weather kept the Hogs inside where the defense recorded 13 tackles for loss and seven quarterback sacks.

“The offense didn’t do a good job today at all,” Nutt said. “The defense really got after them. There were a lot of mental mistakes. There was a lot of thinking going on and the offense got a lot thrown at them. We have to get better. This is why you practice.”

With backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones not participating in the scrimmage, the offense ran for 30 yards on 18 carries while quarterbacks Nathan Emert and Casey Dick combined to complete 13-of-22 passes for 84 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

Tackles Fred Bledsoe and Malcolm Sheppard, and linebacker Adrian Davis each had two tackles for loss totaling 25 yards. Bledsoe and Sheppard had two sacks each for 21 yards.

Bledsoe, Sheppard, Davis, linebacker Wendel Davis, safety Matt Hewitt and tackle Ernest Mitchell had three tackles each. Mitchell had a sack and a tackle for loss, Hewitt 1.5 tackles for loss and a half sack, and Wendel Davis a tackle for loss.

“You have to give it to the defense,” Nutt said. “They came ready to play. Their mindset was a whole lot better than the offense. They were moving around and they made some plays. Fred Bledsoe, Ernest Mitchell and Malcolm Sheppard, they were everywhere. Offensively, it’s disappointing because I know we are better than that. We have to do a much better job of concentrating on assignments.

“It’s a breakdown of three or four players on each play. That’s enough to get you beaten. You have to have 11 on each play.”

There were a few bright spots on offense. Sophomore tailback Michael Smith had 41 yards on four carries, including a shifty 20-yard run for a touchdown up the middle. Emert was nine-of-15 passing for 68 yards and Dick four-of-seven for 16 with an interception, but each threw a touchdown pass.

Peyton Hillis and Marcus Monk each scored on six-yard receptions. Hillis, Monk, Michael Smith and Hezekiah Smith had two receptions each.

“Our receivers have had the best camp so far,” Nutt said. “They have really done a good job going to get the ball, keeping the ball tight and being physical, playing without the ball. I’m really impressed with those guys.”

Senior Robert Johnson had the longest gain of the day, a 39-yard reception from Emert. Junior Reggie Fish had a 14-yard catch and senior Chris Baker an 11-yarder.

Download: 3-31-07 scrimmage stats.pdf