Hogs emphasize running game before scrimmage


Photographs by Andy Shupe

NWA Democrat-Gazette/Andy Shupe HARD AT WORK: Arkansas running back Chase Hayden carries the ball during practice last week at the university's practice field in Fayetteville. Hayden broke loose for a 47-yard touchdown in the team's first scrimmage.

FAYETTEVILLE -- While coach Bret Bielema and his staff have been hard at work to keep things under wraps, Arkansas fans will get their first glimpse of the new-look Razorbacks in today's scrimmage.

The open to the public portion of scrimmage at Reynolds Razorback Stadium prefaces Fan Day starting at 4 p.m. at Walker Indoor Training Center where players and coaches are available to chat, sign autographs and pose for photographs.

During the week both offensive coordinator Dan Enos and defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads were asked to review last Saturday's scrimmage and what they seek today.

"I thought we were pretty good," Enos said. "We've really challenged the ones especially, that we need to run the ball more consistently. I think they did a tremendous job protecting the passer on Saturday but we weren't real happy with how we ran the football. And I think we had six dropped balls. Two of them were explosive plays, three of them were on third downs. So those are game-changing type drops."

Enos listed the flaws that an offense can't abide.

"Our formula is you can't have penalties, turnovers, sacks and drops," Enos said. "Saturday we had a couple of penalties we can get rid of and dropped passes that we've got to fix. But the good news was, knock on wood, we didn't turn the ball over and they protected the quarterback well. So we did some of it pretty good."

The running game, particularly last season's inability to convert key goal-line and short-yardage situations, is under constant emphasis.

"Every day is just being physical running the football," Enos said. "Coach B has put us in a lot of situations of ones vs. ones where it gets very competitive. You've got to have that SEC strain We're not there yet, but we're certainly moving toward that."

While the offense feels last year's heat to run better on short yardage, the defense feels last year's heat to stop the run.

"We emphasized (off last Saturday's scrimmage) that we tackled extremely well," Rhoads said. "We'd like to have our missed tackle numbers at less than 10 a game. We played roughly 137 snaps so if you halved that, we were about eight missed tackles for the game and we missed 16 for the scrimmage. First time out that was really pleasing to see that take place."

Some missed tackles, like freshman running back Chase Hayden springing a 47-yard touchdown for the second offense against the first defense, must be corrected, Rhoads said.

"We had some busts that surprised me a little bit," Rhoads said. "I think the lesson learned from that was the first scrimmage was like the first time out under the lights. You can get a little bit too excited and a little bit too hyped up as the kids were and forget to have your eyes in the right location and your mind where it needs to be every single snap. They understood that quite quickly and I think we'll see a significant drop in the busts this Saturday."

Sports on 08/12/2017

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