FAYETTEVILLE -- Sophomore Cole Kelley threw four touchdown passes, and three tight ends caught touchdowns as the Arkansas Razorbacks ran through 108 plays of live tackling Saturday.
The first major scrimmage of the Chad Morris era at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville lasted about two hours on a mostly overcast day on the artificial turf practice surface outside the Walker Pavilion.
"It was all about competing today," an upbeat Morris said. "I think you saw that in all avenues."
Morris said he saw a great initial burst of energy to open the Hogs' fifth practice of spring, a lull in the middle where fatigue set in, then a good closing sequence.
"I was really pleased to see them push on through, so that was promising," he said. "Again, a long way from where we need to be, but definitely a lot of really good things right now."
Offensive coordinator Joe Craddock said after a slow end to Thursday's practice, after which he challenged the offense to be better, the group rebounded Saturday.
"I think some guys got cold and our mentality has to be good no matter if we're playing in a parking lot, playing on rocks, playing in a sandpit. It doesn't matter," he said. "I thought you saw our guys respond today, which was really good to see.
"At the end of practice I thanked them ... because I hate doing what I did on Thursday. I hate challenging those guys like I did, but we got a response out of them today and that showed me a lot about the guys that we've got right now."
Craddock said the offense needs to be played at a quicker pace, which will come with more experience in the uptempo system.
Defensively, coordinator John Chavis got to cut loose with a variety of pressure packages that resulted in 11 "sacks," some of which would have been legitimate in a game, and some of which were early whistles.
Defensive end Jamario Bell led the way with three sacks, including a sack-strip on which the ball was whistled dead. T.J. Smith had two.
There were no official interceptions, but Micahh Smith picked off a pass from Kelley on which a "sack" was whistled just as the quarterback was launching the pass, and defensive back D'Vone McClure dropped what should have been an interception from walk-on freshman Austin Aune, who is receiving scholarship money from baseball.
"I think they're feeling more confident in the new scheme," Chavis said. "The more confident they get, the cleaner the play will be. We are not shy on effort, and that's the biggest bright spot."
Junior quarterback Ty Storey began the day with the starting offense and completed two long passes to De'Vion Warren in his first eight-play sequence. Storey finished unofficially 8 of 13 for 122 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown strike to tight end Jeremy Patton.
Kelley, alternating with Storey with the first and second units, got more red zone and goal line work than Storey and finished, unofficially, 10 of 13 for 137 yards and the 4 touchdowns.
Kelley, who went 2-2 as a starter last season while Austin Allen rehabbed a shoulder injury, threw touchdown passes to wideout Tyson Morris, tight ends Will Gragg and Cheyenne O'Grady, and wideout Jarrod Barnes, in that order.
On Kelley's eighth snap, he found Morris, a graduate of Helena-West Helena High, across the middle for a long gain. After Morris slipped a tackle, he sprinted to the end zone for a 55-yard score.
After a changeover after the 24th play, Morris noticed the units on both sides of the ball jogging onto the field, and he waved them back to the sideline and told them to do it again.
"Come out like you wanna play!" Morris shouted.
Redshirt freshman Maleek Williams rushed for 72 yards on 8 carries, including a 3-yard touchdown during goal line work. Chase Hayden ran for 68 yards on 8 carries, including a highlight 42-yard breakaway.
Devwah Whaley had 24 rushing yards, including a 1-yard touchdown, on 9 carries, and T.J. Hammonds had touchdown runs of 8 and 1 yards among his 9 carries for 17 yards.
"I thought Maleek Williams and Chase Hayden ran exceptionally hard," Morris said. "T.J. Hammonds has done some really good things as well, but got to get better in pass protection with T.J. It's more than just toting the ball."
Hammonds was one of the top pass catchers, finishing with four grabs for 51 yards. Tyson Morris finished with a game-high 60 yards on two catches. Tobias Enlow had 3 catches for 48 yards, including an 8-yard scoring pass from Carson Proctor. Warren finished with three catches for 44 yards.
Morris and Craddock said seniority played a part in the depth-chart decisions at many positions, but scrimmage and practice performances will start dictating who runs with which unit.
"We're giving a lot of the older guys, seniors and juniors, chances over the younger guys right now to go with the ones," Craddock said. "But we'll see. I think they're all doing a good job. Right now it's about, hey, he went out there because he's the older guy."
The Razorbacks will go through practice No. 6 on Monday and hold one more workout Wednesday before spring break.
Sports on 03/11/2018
Print Headline: Touchdown passes highlight Hogs’ 1st scrimmage