April 18, 2006
Fayetteville, AR (CSTV U-WIRE) -- With ESPNU nationally broadcasting the Red-White game, coach Houston Nutt and the rest of the Arkansas staff decided to play to the national audience.
Instead of pulling out the new plays on offense or the blitzing packages on defense, the Razorbacks opted for basic plays.
"Because of national exposure, we held back quite a bit," Nutt said. "There are a lot of questions about what is going on with our camp and the direction we're going, and we want to keep it that way."
Nutt said he is looking for any edge possible against Southern California, and with people watching the game, he didn't want anyone to see the new offense under offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn and quarterbacks coach Alex Wood.
No one knew the exact percentage of new plays and old plays, but quarterback Casey Dick said it was probably 50/50.
"We have got other things in our package that we didn't show today, but it'll be different," Malzahn said.
Even though there was a limit on what the Razorbacks ran, there were some signs of change in the Hog offense.
Both Felix Jones and Darren McFadden were on the field at the same time on many different occasions and fed off each other. Two of Jones' touchdowns came on fake reverses to McFadden that had the defense biting hard to keep the All-American from making the corner, and allowing Jones to have a wide open hole to the end zone.
"Those guys are the guys you need to get in their hands to let them do what they do, and they are very versatile," Malzahn said.
The passing game did not show up as much as the rushing attack, but there were signs of life in the passing game. In 47 plays, 22 were passing, and 25 were rushing, but the Hog quarterbacks only completed 14 passes for 150 yards.
"For us to be a very good team, we are going to have to be able to throw the football," Malzahn said. "There is no better way to learn and see where you're at than when you're in front of a crowd."
Marcus Monk was the leading receiver with five catches for 58 yards, which is a change from many games last season when the leading receiver would be Peyton Hillis on passes to the flat.
Malzahn did use the running backs in the passing game, but unlike last season, they were actually running direct routes.
During one play, Hillis snuck behind a Chris Baker wheel-route, which drew the defenders, and left Hillis open for a 23 yard reception.
Arkansas now has four months of rest, before they get back to prepare for USC. In that preparation, Malzahn said, the Razorbacks will be able to instill more of the offense and be ready to display it in the first game.
(C) 2006 Arkansas Traveler via CSTV U-WIRE