Photographs by David Gottschalk
Ty Storey (left) and Cole Kelley work during Arkansas football practice Friday, July 28, 2017.
Sunday, August 13, 2017
FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas Razorbacks Coach Bret Bielema said decision time is coming soon, perhaps within the next week, on whether redshirt sophomore Ty Storey or redshirt freshman Cole Kelley will be the top backup to starting quarterback Austin Allen.
Based on Bielema's recommendation, Storey was given a full day with the second-team offense in practice on Tuesday, then Kelley got the same chance on Wednesday. The same scenario might play out again this week.
"We'll have a big personnel meeting tomorrow [Sunday] at 1:30," Bielema said following Saturday's 2-hour, 45-minute scrimmage at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
Storey and Kelley took turns with the second-team offense, then both got work with the starters during the second half of the workout with Allen held out.
Bielema said the coaches would study the scrimmage film on Saturday night and Sunday morning.
"I'll ask them to prioritize and then we'll go into a big meeting and talk about it," Bielema said. "I'm not so concerned over next week yet, through Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. But to go two weeks out from the game, I think we should have an idea of who that guy is in the pecking order."
Bielema was asked which quarterback had the better full day earlier in the week.
"I'd say if you were just sitting there ... and knew football a little bit, you would say that Ty probably performed a little bit better on Tuesday than Cole did on Wednesday, but that might be flipping today, the way Cole was able to make some plays.
"The good news is they're both good players, they're both competing and no one is succumbing to the other any time soon."
Linebacker Josh Harris, offensive linemen Jake Raulerson and Dalton Wagner, defensive end Briston Guidry and receivers Brandon Martin, Gary Cross and River Warnock did not participate during the open portion of Saturday's scrimmage.
Coach Bret Bielema said Harris suffered a foot injury in last week's scrimmage that will require about 10 weeks of recovery. Wagner, who watched from the stands with a boot on his right foot, has an injury that does not require surgery, Bielema said.
Raulerson was rolled up on an inside run play on Thursday and is expected back early this week. Cross and Warnock both have hamstring issues, though Warnock's was serious enough to take him off the 105-man roster. Martin has been out for about a week with a back issue.
Guidry was allowed to fly to south Louisiana late last week and was home when his grandmother died, Bielema said. He is expected back at some point this week.
Linebacker Ben Brasuell and offensive lineman Tyler Hall were added to the 105-man roster this week but could not participate in the scrimmage as they are still following NCAA mandated orientation days.
Linebacker Josh Harris and offensive tackle Dalton Wagner are the latest Razorbacks to suffer foot injuries in camp..
They follow linebacker Jamario Bell, who had surgery early in camp for a foot injury, and a string prominent players in recent years, including running backs Jonathan Williams and Kody Walker, receivers Keon Hatcher and Cody Hollister, linebacker Dre Greenlaw and others.
Coach Bret Bielema said Saturday there is not a specific factor that can be attributed to the surge.
"No, other than it's a pretty common [injury] with the NFL, other colleges," Bielema said. "We were discussing the other day with another team that we reached out to that I believe had six foot fractures since spring. Really our numbers coincide with everybody else."
Bielema said head athletic trainer Matt Summers pulled up data on foot injuries in the NFL, which showed that receivers and linebackers suffer the most injuries of that type.
"There's a difference between a Lisfranc [fracture] and a fifth metatarsal, so there's all kinds of different things that factor into it. I think today's athletes are bigger, stronger, faster and everybody wants that shoe to get smaller and lighter. I think there's a common give there."
Liddell with starters
Senior strong safety Josh Liddell, who has started 20 consecutive games but since the spring found himself working on the second team behind De'Andre Coley, was back with the first-team defense Saturday.
"Josh Liddell has probably had the 14 best practices of his career," Bret Bielema said. "He has bought in. He's always taken coaching. He plays within the extremes of what he can play."
Bielema said defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads summed up Liddell the best by saying, "He's always in the right spot. His eyes are always in the right spot and he seems to make all the plays."
Bret Bielema said everything seems to be in order for freshman safety Montaric Brown to be academically cleared to practice.
"We're just really truly waiting on the final paperwork to come through," Bielema said.
Bielema said he believes there's a good chance Brown will practice this week, but if not, he should be eligible when fall semester classes begin Aug. 21.
The Razorbacks got away from football Thursday evening, traveling by bus to see a movie and then play around at the Rogers Aquatic Center.
Coach Bret Bielema said it was a well-deserved break.
"It was fun to see them react that way," he said. "Then they gave us a great Friday and a great today. I like this group. I like the way they work. They put their head down and go to work. They take coaching.
"If they don't take coaching, they stick out like a sore thumb and I think everybody gets on them for it. I like where they're at."
Bielema said the team watched "Girl's Trip," a comedy about four friends taking a trip to New Orleans.
"We saw a chick flick," Bielema said. "I got a few rolls of the eyes, but it was pretty entertaining. I even watched it."
Junior Cole Hedlund would be the No. 1 placekicker if the Razorbacks played a game today, Coach Bret Bielema said.
But Arkansas doesn't open the season until Aug. 31 against Florida A&M, and freshman walk-on Blake Mazza continues to push Hedlund.
"My man Maserati, he's doing all right," Bielema said. " He's done some nice stuff."
Hedlund, who missed last week's scrimmage with a groin injury, was 4 for 4 on field goals during the open portion of Saturday's practice. He hit from 36, 38, 43 and 48 yards.
Mazza, who hit all five of his attempts last week with a long of 36 yards, went 2 for 3 Saturday. He hit from 33 and 43 yards and was wide right on a 48-yard attempt.
Sophomore Connor Limpert is working No. 1 on kickoffs, Bielema said, with Mazza and Hedlund backing him up.
Bielema said Limpert is focusing on kickoffs, the job he handled last season.
"He's been pretty good," Bielema said. "Kind of just let him devote himself to kicking that ball. A left-footed kicker on kickoff puts another spin on it."
Getting on Jones
Sophomore receiver Jordan Jones has drawn praise from coaches and teammates for his speed and big-play ability in practice, but Bret Bielema wasn't pleased with him on Saturday.
"Jordan Jones, he has got to decide to grow up," Bielema said. "I got after him a little afterwards. If he wants to be treated like a Division I player -- an SEC player -- he has got to take coaching and I think he will. He's a great kid who has a lot of ability."
Sophomore Blake Johnson has been working as the No. 1 punter, but he struggled Saturday with distance and hang time.
"Blake didn't punt the ball very well, but he has been one of the most productive guys until today," Bret Bielema said. "Today was the biggest crowd we've had and we'll address that. We need to make him move forward."
Connor Limpert, the No. 1 man on kickoffs, also punted.
"As a left-footed punter, that brings a whole new game to it," Bielema said. "And he actually can do rugby from the left, which is a nice added feature."
Redshirt freshman quarterback Cole Kelley punted Saturday during the closed portion of practice and Bielema said he hit two 55-yarders.
"He looked pretty damned good punting today, and he did it in high school," Bielema said. "He turns it over really well.
"I'm not saying his operation time is great, but you get the element that he can throw the football in addition to being back there. It's kind of neat to play with."
The Razorbacks have been assigned odds of 500 to 1 of winning the College Football Playoff national championship by Bovada of Las Vegas.
Arkansas, which was given 250 to 1 odds to win the title on Jan. 10, is grouped in with 11 other teams at 500 to 1, including Baylor, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Missouri and South Carolina.
The Razorbacks have the eighth-best odds among SEC teams. Alabama is at 12 to 5, the best odds in the country, followed in the top five by USC (6 to 1), Ohio State (13 to 2), Florida State (15 to 2) and 16-1 for Michigan, Oklahoma and Penn State.
Odds for other SEC teams: Auburn (20 to 1), Georgia and LSU (25 to 1), Florida (33 to 1), Tennessee (75 to 1) and Texas A&M (150 to 1). Ole Miss, which had been 100 to 1 on Jan. 10, has been taken off the board due to Coach Hugh Freeze's sudden resignation in July. Vanderbilt is also off the board.
Sports on 08/13/2017
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