Arkansas' first-team offense, led by Heisman candidate Tyler Wilson, scored on five of 12 possessions in Saturday's scrimmage at Razorback Stadium. That constituted a major victory for the Hogs' often maligned defense.
“The defense played with spirit, they played with enthusiasm,” coach John L. Smith said. “We're still giving up big plays as a defense that we can't give up.
“But overall I was quite pleased from a defensive standpoint,” he added. “We need to be good defensively for us to be a great football team.”
Arkansas led the SEC in scoring (36.8) last season but finished eighth in points allowed (22.2).
On the scrimmage's first play, defensive tackle D.D. Jones batted down Wilson's pass. The defense went on to rack up 12 sacks and 27 tackles for loss, but many of those stats came against the second- and third-team offense.
Defensive end Trey Flowers said the performance bolstered the unit's confidence.
“It shows that we're improving, but we've got a lot more to improve on,” he told ArkansasNews.com. “They're some of the elite players in the league. So for us to come out here and get in his mind, it shows what we can do to other teams, who aren't as composed as Tyler Wilson.”
While Smith praised the defense, he noted his receivers dropped way more passes than usual.
“There were more than we've had all fall, but that will get cleaned up,” Smith said.
Depth behind Davis: While Knile Davis gets most of the attention, and deservedly so, Arkansas has other talented running backs. Senior Dennis Johnson ran for 76 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries in Saturday's scrimmage. He carried defenders on one 20-yard jaunt.
“I thought he ran real hard. I thought he did a darned good job,” Smith said. “He stayed healthy and he ran like Dennis should run.”
The Knile plan: RB Knile Davis said he is fully recovered from the ankle injury that caused him to miss last season. But coach John L. Smith has yet to allow Davis to play in a full-contact scrimmage.
Smith said Davis is adhering to the team's plan, but would not elaborate. Davis ran for an SEC-high 1,322 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2010.
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