Offense Improved in Second Spring Football Scrimmage

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A week after allowing 13 tackles for loss and generating just 114 total yards, the offense looked much better in Arkansas’ second major scrimmage of the spring on Saturday in the Willard and Pat Walker Pavilion.

In the first scrimmage a week ago, the offense had 30 yards rushing on 18 carries and the quarterbacks combined to complete 13-of-22 passes for 84 yards.

This week, sophomore Michael Smith spearheaded a ground game that gained 201 yards on 35 carries and scored three touchdowns.

Quarterbacks Casey Dick and Nathan Emert combined to complete 22-of-30 passes for 366 yards and five touchdowns.

“I feel a little bit better today, we did better,” head coach Houston Nutt said. “I was proud. I thought we caught the ball better. That’s probably the best we’ve looked. We can still improve, but it was good to see some catches and big plays. The execution of the quarterbacks was better and the protection was better. That’s where it starts, with protection. We got up and down the field a little bit.”

The offense produced nine plays of 20 yards or more, highlighted by Michael Smith’s 56-yard touchdown run on his first carry. Smith later had a 63-yard run. Reggie Fish scored on a 50-yard reverse and had a 44-yard reception; Marcus Monk had a 53-yard reception, Marques Wade a 37-yarder and Peyton Hillis a 32-yarder.

Smith rushed for 139 yards on eight carries, an average of 17.4 yards per rush, and scored one touchdown. Last week, even with the defense dominating, he had 41 yards on four carries. In the two scrimmages, he has 180 yards on 12 carries, an average of 15.0 yards per rush.

Fullbacks Farod Jackson and Hezekiah Smith combined for 51 yards on 16 carries.

Tailbacks Darren McFadden and Felix Jones did not take part in the scrimmage.

“I know the defense was short-handed,” Nutt said. “They are beat up a little, but I really thought the offense had a good mind-set today. You could see it. The run blocking was very good at times and the protection was good. When that happens, you can hit some big plays.”

Dick, after going four-of-seven for 16 yards last week, was 14-of-18 for 236 yards with four touchdowns. Over one stretch, he completed seven straight passes for 77 yards and he ended his day with three straight completes for 72 yards and two touchdowns.

His scoring passes covered 32 and 19 yards to Hillis, nine to London Crawford and 53 to Monk.

Emert, who was nine-of-15 for 68 yards a week ago, was eight-of-12 for 130 yards with a nine-yard scoring pass to Jackson.

Hillis, who also had one rush for 11 yards, had three catches for 77 yards and the two scores. Wade had three for 57 yards, Crawford three for 33, Monk two for 62, John Aaron Rees two for 27, Rod Coleman two for 18 and Jackson two for 13.

“We know what we can do with Marcus and Peyton had a great day,” Nutt said. “Marques Wade, Rod Coleman, Reggie Fish and John Aaron all made some catches. That’s a good group of receivers. I think after we get these 15 (practices) in and get another 30 in (in the fall), there will be two or three of those guys who come to the top so Monk is not always double-teamed. That’s the key. We’ve got to get Monk some help.”

Despite giving up more yards, the defense had more tackles for loss this week than last week with 15, including seven sacks. Safety Matt Hewitt had a team-high six tackles with two tackles for loss and a sack, but end Adrian Davis had four tackles with three sacks for 10 yards.

“He’s coming on,” Nutt said of Davis. “You can see him showing up. I’m excited about him and how he handles things. He’s doing a really good job.”

Linebacker Ryan Powers and end Chris Wade each had five tackles with two for losses, and tackles Cord Gray and Malcolm Sheppard each had two tackles for loss.

Download: 4-7-07 scrimmage stats.pdf