Fayetteville, Ark. – The Arkansas football players and coaches had been campaigning all week to fans on social media outlets for this week’s Red vs. White spring football game. The goal was to draw a crowd of over 50,000 people. That mission was accomplished when just over 51,000 fans showed up to Razorback field Saturday.
The product on the field did not disappoint. The Hogs proved that they would be playing with a much different style than in recent years under new head coach Bret Bielema.
Opposite from the pass-heavy attack fans have grown accustomed to seeing during the Petrino era, Arkansas showed it was going to indeed be playing “Big Boy” football and relying on the power run game. This was the style that worked so well for Bielema and staff at Wisconsin, and ultimately won them three consecutive Big Ten championships. My mother once told me, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and it appears Bielema is sticking with her logic in his first year coaching in the SEC.
The surprise of the day was junior walk-on Patrick Arinze, who lead all rushers with 67 yards on 9 carries. Arinze carried the red team to a 34-27 victory over the white team. He ran with a chip on his shoulder and trucked over defenders on several occasions. Arinze also demonstrated his elite ability to block, as he opened up lanes for fellow backs, and pass protected for the quarterback. Not bad for a walk-on.
Arinze wasn’t the only one who got a piece of the pie. Sophomores Nate Holmes had 9 carries for 43 yards, Jonathan Williams had 9 carries for 29 yards, and Kody Walker had 7 carries for 40 yards.
As for another sophomore, Brandon Allen, he appeared to be ready to take on the role as the starting quarterback for an SEC program. Allen was the quarterback for the Red team, which consisted of the probable starters. He was 11-16 for 158 yards and a TD. Allen was poised in the pocket and connected on multiple long pass plays to Javontee Herndon and Demetrius Wilson.
Herndon hauled in 6 catches for 85 yards, and Wilson had 4 receptions for 70 yards and a TD. Both receivers had Sportscenter top 10 worthy catches throughout the contest. Herndon showcased his speed and play-making ability, while Wilson displayed his ability to use his 6’3″ frame to separate himself from smaller defenders.
Brandon Mitchell lead the way for the White team, going 12-17 for 138 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception. Sophomore Keon Hatcher was on the receiving end for 5 of those completions, and added 60 yards receiving. Hatcher looked much improved from a year ago and could put up a strong fight for a starting wide receiver spot come August.
One player that really stood out on defense was junior college transfer Tiquention Coleman. Coleman was all over the place, totaling 9 tackles in less than 3 quarters of play. Georgia Military College must groom their players quite well, or Tavon Johnson is doing a fine job coaching up the secondary. Perhaps a mixture of both with the advantage going to Johnson, but you can’t forget about strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert. This guy obviously turned guys into monsters at Wisconsin, and by the looks of things, he’s beginning to do it at Arkansas.
Hog fans will now have to rest easy for just over four months until their beloved Razorbacks take the field again for their next big game, which is their opening day match-up with UL-Lafayette on August 31st. As they proved Saturday, the Hog faithful will be there to support this new brand of Arkansas football.