RazorbacksSports

Razorbacks’ Coach Pittman Reviews Saturday’s Scrimmage

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Nate Allen

FAYETTEVILLE – Following an Aug. 14 first preseason Saturday scrimmage featuring  too many penalties and perhaps, too little offense, Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman surmised Saturday the offense up and the penalties down for the Razorbacks’ final major scrimmage of the preseason at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

The defense, though not closing dominantly like Scrimmage 1, held its own throughout Saturday’s sequel, Pittman said.

Next Saturday the Razorbacks rehearse with a low contact  mock game prepping for the Sept. 4 1 p.m. season opener against the Rice Owls at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

I thought it was a very physical scrimmage,” Pittman told media Saturday.  “Last week, I believed our defense outlasted our offense. I don’t believe that this week.  I think the offense came back and did some really nice things. It was a pretty even scrimmage.”

Pittman devoted a goodly portion of both scrimmages to special teams.

Freshman place-kicker Cameron Little, perfect the first scrimmage, and his fellow kickers apparently didn’t match previous perfection.

“Special teams, I thought we were good,” Pittman said.  “We have to get better kicking field goals, though. We weren’t quite as good today with our field goal game as what we had been.”

However according to UA post scrimmage stats,  Little did successfully kick 49 and 35-yard field goals.

Matthew Phillips kicked a scrimmage long 52-yarder.

Vito Calvaruso, normally the kickoff man, kicked a 37-yard field goal.

Penalties?

“Much better,” Pittman said.  “That was kind of one of the goals that we gave to the team going into the scrimmage.”

Pittman specifically described why injured  No. 1 center Ricky Stromberg (knee MCL strain) since Aug. 8,  No. 1 running back Trelon Smith (turf toe) and idled this week, and  All-SEC safety Jalen Catalon (shoulder) idled this week, and receiver De’Vion Warren, “tweaked hamstring” Friday didn’t scrimmage.

Pittman said all, with Stromberg actually cleared for contact since Thursday but withheld Saturday as a precaution, might practice when the Hogs next work Monday.

Because of  unspecified maladies, Pittman said receiver Treylon Burks, running back-receiver T.J. Hammonds, running back AJ Green, and punter Sam Loy did not scrimmage but should be available against Rice.

If we played Rice today, they would not have played,” Pittman said. “But I expect all of them to be ready for the Rice game.”

Freshman Raheim “Rocket” Sanders handled the bulk of Saturday’s running back load with leading returning rusher Smith withheld.

With All-SEC receiver Burks and senior speedster Warren, deemed Arkansas’ No. 2 receiver, both out  junior via Oklahoma Sooners transfer Jaqualyn Crawford, freshman Ketron Jackson and third-year sophomore John David White were among the receivers logging increased scrimmage time Saturday.

White, Pittman said, caught “a long touchdown pass,” from redshirt freshman Malik Hornsby, the backup to third-year sophomore starting quarterback KJ Jefferson.

Friday of Jackson, offensive coordinator Kendal Briles praised, “If you look at the spring to right now offensively he’s without a doubt the most improved football player on the offense.”

Pittman praised Jackson Saturday.

“In practice, he’s at least the third best receiver we have,” Pittman said.  “Maybe higher.” 

Backup quarterback has vexed since Jefferson, last year’s backup, elevated to No. 1 with 2020 Arkansas quarterback Feleipe Franks turned pro.

Hornsby last year’s third-teamer and a gifted runner though not particularly asserting himself even while  listed No. 2  last spring, has seized a firmer grasp.

“He’s No. 2,” Pittman said Saturday. “There’s not anybody, in my opinion, right now that’s that close to him as a 2 quarterback.”

Pittman explained. 

“He can run and he can roll out and throw the football,” Pittman said.  “He’s getting better in the pocket, but he has to get better. But he’s getting better at throwing the football and he’s a major threat with his feet.”

According to post scrimmage figures released by the UA late Saturday afternoon Hornsby ran for 80 and 8-yard touchdowns and  completed touchdown passes of 45 yards to White and 15-yards to Kendall  Catalon.

Sanders rushed for touchdowns of 39 and 6-yards and Jefferson scored from the 1.

On defense, linebacker Jackson Woodard and defensive back Jon Conley, the son of former Razorback 9-time NCAA long jump and triple jump champion and Olympic gold and silver medalist Mike Conley, intercepted passes.

Defensive end Jashaud Stewart recovered a fumble.

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