Arkansas Razorback Football: Hogs Finish First Scrimmage


Fayetteville, Ark.- The Arkansas Razorbacks finished their first week of full pad football practices with a highly anticipated live scrimmage on Friday. The difference in a year can been found with the experience returning on the offensive side of the ball.

First team All-SEC quarterback Tyler Wilson threw for 320 yards with four touchdowns in Friday’s scrimmage. The offense scored on seven of ten possessions and returning starting running back Dennis Johnson had 80 yards rushing with three touchdowns.

The defense was able to exploit the offense’s ability to pass protect in blitzing situations, a problem for the offensive line throughout the 2011 season. Confusion still remains about who is responsible for picking up the blitzing defender in different schemes, the linemen or the running back?

The buzz throughout spring practices and entering Friday’s scrimmage has largely been about the return of running back Knile Davis. The excitement stems from Davis’ All-SEC ability. The concern has been about testing Davis’ recovering left ankle in live contact during game like situations.

Despite the urging of Davis to fully practice per Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino, the coaching staff and Arkansas medical team held Davis out of the scrimmage portion of Friday’s practice. Petrino said in his post practice press conference that they will take Davis’ situation on a week by week basis.

One of the other newsworthy story lines during spring ball has been the move of senior Tank Wright from defensive end to linebacker. Petrino described Wright’s play at linebacker as a “thumper” and “someone strong against the run.”

When the Hogs have not been able to impose their will offensively on teams on the score board, in the fourth quarter of key games against Alabama and LSU the defense had difficulty stopping the run. The plan is for Wright to help fill the loss of Jerry Franklin to graduation and help stop the fourth quarter running efforts of the opposition.

LinebackersJarrettLakeand Matt Marshall have caught the eye of the Arkansas coaching staff. Lake, a junior, has added weight but has maintained his speed while playing physical. Marshall has been flying to the ball and playing with the knowledge of a fifth year senior.

Not that Arkansas needed more options in the offense but it appears that senior fullback Kiero Small will hear his name called in the fall. Small has slimmed down which has allowed him to take on a bigger role in the offense other than as a lead blocker.

Small could add an extra needed dimension to the goal line offense that was missing last year after the injury to true freshman running back Kody Walker. Small’s ability to catch the ball out of the backfield will force opposing defenses to cover him expanding passing windows and spaces on the field for Tyler Wilson on throwing downs.

Offensive coordinator Paul Petrino worked three players in at center on Friday behind returning starter Travis Swanson- Luke Charpentier, Mitch Smothers, and Tyler Deacon. Smothers and Deacon have been in a battle for the starting quick guard spot.

The rotation of Deacon and Smothers has been more of a precaution to develop depth at center than an actual position change for either player.

Bobby Petrino did say, “Smothers two best positions are guard and center.” Smothers, a true sophomore, started four games for the Hogs at tackle last season. Questions centered on Smothers’ possible move back to tackle with the suspension of senior tackle Jason Peacock during spring practices.

The next Razorback practice will be held on Tuesday April 3.

Injury Update

Sophomore cornerback Tevin Mitchell tweaked his hamstring in one-on-one drills before the scrimmage. Petrino said, “It’s not serious” in his post practice press conference.

In Mitchell’s absence Davyon McKinney will fill in. The silver lining with the injury to Mitchell is the extra practice reps McKinney will get against one of the best college quarterbacks in the nation in Wilson play after play.