Bielema Has His Backup QB, Wants Collins To Sleep More

FAYETTEVILLE--Bret Bielema addressed some 3,000 fans on the Razorback Stadium P.A. system prior to the start of Saturday's scrimmage basically asking them to refrain from recording what they were about to see on personal cameras, cell phones or otherwise.

Not that it mattered much. Going into the scrimmage Bielema was well aware that certain prying eyes might well have an interest in passing along what transpired in the scrimmage to the Hogs' season opening opponent, Auburn. 

As the head coach noted afterward, the offense and defense on display were basic plain vanilla with little of the Auburn game plan revealed. Most fans probably took that into account when discussing Korliss Marshall's 57 yard touchdown run through the right side of the number two defense or Brandon Allen's 19 of 28 day passing for 218 yards and three touchdowns.

So if most of what was seen needed to be taken with a grain of salt what did fans learn from their only look at the Razorbacks in the buildup to the Auburn game?

Considering the ruckus created by Bielema's pre-camp statement that if something happened to Brandon Allen tight end A.J. Derby would probably take over as the starting quarterback, Bielema's post scrimmage remarks on that subject seemed significant.

"I think Austin (Allen) has declared himself, if there were a situation, unless something dramatically changes in the next two weeks, that he's our number two quarterback," Bielema told reporters. The head Hog also noted that he had planned to get the younger Allen more work with the number one offense in that scrimmage but Marshall had derailed the plan with his crowd pleasing touchdown burst. It was the perfect way to end the session so Austin Allen will likely have to wait until this weekend's closed scrimmage to get in more work with the top offense.

Derby was not a part of the scrimmage. He is part of a group of players with minor injuries, injuries that are not expected to effect their availability for the Auburn game. Sophomore defensive end Deatrich Wise is the only Hog starter who might have an issue going into game week. Wise suffered a sprained knee in practice over a week ago. Bielema said he's hopeful that Wise will play but if not defensive coaches still feel good about the depth situation at that position.

"We're shuffling some guys around," defensive coordinator Robb Smith noted. "B-Lew's (Brandon Lewis) practiced well at times. JaMichael Winston's done nice job. Tevin Beanum. We've got some some guys. We've got some flexibility there."

Marshall's big run was part of an impressive day for the running backs but Bielema admitted he's somewhat concerned about the situation at fullback where no clear replacement for Kiero Small has emerged.

"Just a straight, hard core thumper," was Bielema's description when asked what he needed at the position. "We gotta get that guy because in short yardage and goal line we're gonna need that guy and it's yet to be declared."

The Hogs' first team running back also sat the scrimmage out after pulling a hamstring in the early part of the team's first camp scrimmage a week earlier. Bielema expects Jonathan Williams to be back in the mix sometime this week. Alex Collins, who lead the team in rushing a season ago, is currently listed as 1-C in the
three-player rotation at running back. Collins also put up some good numbers on Saturday rushing for 63 yards on nine carries. Still Bielema admitted that he remains concerned about an off-the-field issue with Collins that he first mentioned last spring.

"If I can get him (Collins) to go to bed at a reasonable hour and stop tweeting at 4 a.m. and eat three square meals, the sky's the limit for that kid," Bielema explained. "We're extremely gifted in the fact that we've got three running backs."

There is obvious depth at tight end as well where, with Derby sitting out, sophomore Jeremy Sprinkle overshadowed teammate Hunter Henry with 3 catches for 96 yards and a touchdown in the scrimmage.

Sprinkle is currently third on the depth chart at his position with the challenge of becoming a better blocker his only true limitation at this point. Sprinkle's position coach says that the very thing that makes him such a threat as a receiver has held him back as a blocker.

"He's really long-limbed and his shoes, we could ski behind his feet," tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr. joked. "He's got big feet and so it's hard for a guy that's that long to be real sudden and urgent out of his stance but he's made a concerted effort to do that and I've seen that."

Saturday marked the final time either the public or the media will see the Razorbacks in action until kickoff time for the season opener. Practices the final week of camp and during game week will be closed.


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