The Arkansas football team had their second scrimmage open to the public today with a few new players stepping up and some at new positions.
The most obvious player who has made the transition to a new position is former quarterback A.J. Derby. While some players may go to a new position only to be never heard about again, Derby could play a vital role in the Razorback”s offense this year.
He has ideal size for a tight end, shows good blocking abilities, and aside from one wide open drop, has caught everything that’s been thrown at him this week.
Quarterback Damon Mitchell has also been advised to switch to anther skill positon where Bielema thinks he can be a playmaker, but he has been a bit reluctant and wants to stay at QB.
Brandon Allen had another mediocre day at quarterback, but has completely separated himself from the others according to Bielema.
Allen did have five touchdowns going 17 for 25 for 124 yards, but still had two interceptions. His younger brother Austin, now second string, was 5 of 10 for 39 yards and a score while freshman Rafe Peavey was 4 of 6 for 49 yards and an interception.
Running back Jonathan Williams really looked good today. He looks like a big time playmaker who can break one at any moment.
Kody Walker also impressed me today with nice elusiveness for his size. He will probably be the go-to guy this year in the redzone.
Alex Collins had a decent scrimmage and had a nice 22-yard run and looked like he ran much more physical than last year.
The receiver position may be the most improved from a year ago thanks to two new guys in Cody Hollister and Jared Cornelius. Hollister bring a mismatch with his size and has tremendous hands while Cornelius reminds me a lot of former Hog Jarius Wright.
Keon Hatcher and D’Arthur Cowan look like the main guys at the position along with Demetrius Wilson when he comes back.
Guys like redshirt freshman Kendrick Payne who had a good practice could help out at this position as well.
On the defensive side of the ball, star DE Trey Flowers took the day off again, but Tiquention Coleman stole the show.
Coleman has made the transition from safety to outside linebacker this spring and has flourished at the position. He had 10 tackles today along with an interception.
Martrell Spaight also could play a vital role in the middle of the Razorback defense. He had 10 tackles today as well, along with a few big hits. Still the linebackers struggled in coverage which has to be improved from last year.
Carroll Washington had a great day at the cornerback position with two pass breakups and Tevin Mitchell had a decent day with four tackles as well.
The biggest takeaway today would be the presence of new defensive coordinator Robb Smith.
There were many different blitzes shown today, especially involving the secondary positions and the defense played with a different type of attitude.
His physical presence was definitely made known when the defense gave up a touchdown drive and he demanded more from his players in a very loud tone in a quiet stadium.
It’s still very early in the spring and just a scrimmage, but you can already see this team’s identity taking shape along with new players stepping up. All of the open practices lead up to the Spring Game on April 26 in Razorback Stadium.