New Leaders Emerge for Hogs RB Room In Wake of Disappointing 2023 + Scrimmage Stats

Ja'Quinden Jackson, Kolby Smith, Arkansas football
photo credit: Craven Whitlow

FAYETTEVILLE — It’d be easy to get caught up in the ugly passing numbers from Saturday’s scrimmage, but Arkansas did have a nice day running the ball.

With three of the Razorbacks’ top five wide receivers not participating, they needed to lean on the run game to move the ball and their stable of backs didn’t disappoint – further proving offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino’s assertion after the first scrimmage a week earlier.

“When we came off the field last week after the three practices and after the scrimmage, I think I said to Coach Pitt(man), ‘We’re going to be able to run the ball,’” Petrino said on Tuesday. “We broke tackles and got yards after contact and made a lot of plays after contact, which was great to see.”

That carried into Saturday’s 95-play live tackling scrimmage inside Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

Even with running back Rashod Dubinion sidelined with a shoulder injury, the remaining scholarship running backs – for the most part – had good days, unofficially combining for 193 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries.

After a disappointing 2023 campaign in which the running game was expected to carry the offense, Rocket Sanders and AJ Green have both transferred and Kolby Smith took over as the running backs coach when Jimmy Smith bolted for TCU at the start of spring ball.

That created a void of leadership in the room and it seems as though the Razorbacks have plenty of options in that department. Smith told reporters last week that Dubinion and Ja’Quinden Jackson are probably the leaders to start right now, but Isaiah Augustave made a case to be included in that conversation Saturday.

The sophomore from Naples, Fla., burst onto the scene late in last year’s 4-8 season and was arguably the star of the day.

He supplied perhaps the best highlight of the scrimmage when he broke free for a 52-yard touchdown run – during which he juked one defender early in the run and then stiff-armed one and broke a tackle against another near the goal line to get into the end zone.

That was the biggest chunk of his eight-carry, 78-yard performance. However, he had well over 100 total yards of offense because he caught a screen 48 yards to the house. Augustave had to break a tackle shortly after catching the ball and then won the foot race down sideline for the touchdown.

It’s worth noting that he did have a fumble in the red zone, but he immediately fell on it, so it wasn’t a turnover.

“He’s a younger guy, but last year you got to see what he can do at the end of the year,” teammate Isaiah Sategna said. “This year, he’s gonna have a great year. He’s one of our best backs and I love his game. I love what he has to bring to the table. He just sheds tackles. He’s not the fastest guy, but he just always seems to break big runs.”

As he has throughout the spring, Jackson displayed a really physical running style while racking up 64 yards on 10 carries. On the first play of the low red zone period, the Utah transfer took a handoff and scored from 9 yards out.

It was mostly against the third-team defense, but Dominique Johnson also had a pretty solid day. He finished with 40 yards on seven carries, with nearly half of those yards coming on a 19-yard touchdown run in the high red zone period. It looked like the 2021 version of Johnson, before he tore his ACL and when he ended the season as the starter, as he broke several tackles and just couldn’t be taken down despite not appearing to be moving too fast.

The only scholarship running back who didn’t play particularly well was freshman Braylen Russell. He had just 11 yards on four carries and his best run ended with a fumble.

As he was breaking tackles in the red zone, it looked like Russell was going to score. However, a few yards shy of the goal line, someone punched the ball out and the fumble went through the back of the end zone. In a game, it would have been a turnover and touchback for the defense.

Russell, who’s listed at 6-foot-1, 252 pounds, has proven to be a load to bring down, but the one negative that has popped up through the spring has been ball security. He’s put the ball on the ground several times, including on exchanges with the quarterback, so that’s something he’ll need to clean up to get significant work as a freshman.

It’s not included in his stats listed below because it came in a 7-on-7 period, but Russell did make a contested catch on a wheel route and managed to get a foot down in bounds to complete it. That’s been one positive for him this spring – his ability to catch passes out of the backfield.

Other Arkansas Football Scrimmage Observations

Here are a few other quick takeaways from what we saw in Saturday’s scrimmage…

  • It was not a banner day for the quarterbacks, as they combined to complete only 19 of 43 passes (44.2%) and averaged just 5.0 yards per attempt. That last number is inflated by the 48-yard touchdown on the screen to Isaiah Augustave, too. Take that out and they averaged just 4.0 yards per attempt.

  • Starting quarterback Taylen Green was just 6 of 15, but it’s worth noting that wide receivers Andrew Armstrong (hamstring) and Jaedon Wilson (undisclosed) were still held out because of injuries and Tyrone Broden missed the scrimmage because of family reasons. Broden and Armstrong have easily been Green’s top two targets this spring, while Wilson is firmly in the top five.

  • Not included in those numbers was a 7-on-7 period that wasn’t live tackling. As you’d expect, the passing was much better in that, with the quarterbacks combining to go 15 of 18 passing. Green had two of those incompletions, going 5 for 7, but both of them were the result of pass breakups – by Hudson Clark and Brad Spence.

  • The defense probably “won” the day overall. In a second-play-third period, where they ran a second-down play and then a third-down play from that spot, the first-team offense moved the chains just once in three tries. In the high red zone period, when they started from the 19-yard line, the first- and second-team offense both failed to score. In the low red zone, starting from the 9-yard line, the first-team offense scored on back-to-back plays, but the second- and third-team offense turned it over. In a move-the-ball period, the first-team offense went three-and-out before eventually moving the chains once.

  • Freshman defensive back Tevis Metcalf, the younger brother of sophomore TJ Metcalf, flashed a couple of times. He had a nice pass breakup on a play that it looked like he might have a shot at an interception and also made an impressive open-field tackle.

  • The lone interception of the day was by Florida transfer Miguel Mitchell, who came down with a pass thrown by Malachi Singleton in the end zone during a red zone period.

  • The defense was without starting defensive end Landon Jackson and backup defensive tackle Ian Geffrard. Jackson’s absence was likely because he is getting married later in the day, while Geffrard was there, but not dressed out – likely because of an injury.

  • Both kickers struggled in the field goal period at the end of the practice. Hawaii transfer Matthew Shipley made kicks from 38 and 43 yards before missing 46- and 54-yard attempts wide right. Vito Calvaruso made a 43-yarder, but then missed from 47 and 54 yards – both were wide left, with the second one being way wide.

(READ NEXT: Miss our coverage of last week’s scrimmage? We’ve got you covered.)

Unofficial Arkansas Football Scrimmage Stats

Here are the complete statistics from Saturday’s scrimmage, as compiled by the media. Keep in mind that these are all very unofficial.


  • Taylen Green: 6 of 15, 46 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
  • Malachi Singleton: 4 of 7, 76 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
  • Jacolby Criswell: 5 of 12, 22 yards
  • KJ Jackson: 4 of 9, 73 yards


  • Isaiah Augustave: 8 carries, 78 yards, 1 TD
  • Ja’Quinden Jackson: 10 carries, 64 yards, 1 TD
  • Dominique Johnson: 7 carries, 40 yards, 1 TD
  • Braylen Russell: 4 carries, 11 yards, 1 fumble
  • Emmanuel Crawford: 3 carries, 35 yards
  • Cade Fields: 2 carries, 3 yards
  • Jezreel Bachert: 2 carries, 0 yards, 1 fumble
  • Jordan Anthony: 1 carry, 7 yards
  • Malachi Singleton: 2 carries, 7 yards
  • Taylen Green: 3 carries, 7 yards
  • Jacolby Criswell: 1 carry, 4 yards


  • Isaac TeSlaa: 1 catch, 9 yards, 1 TD
  • Kamron Bibby: 5 catches, 58 yards
  • Andreas Paaske: 1 catch, 1 yard
  • Jordan Anthony: 2 catches, 12 yards
  • Isaiah Sategna: 3 catches, 22 yards
  • Emmanuel Crawford: 2 catches, 27 yards
  • Isaiah Augustave: 1 catch, 48 yards, 1 TD
  • Luke Hasz: 2 catches, 15 yards
  • Walker Catsavis: 1 catch, 33 yards
  • Cade Fields: 1 catch, 2 yards

Tackles (players with 3 or more)

  • Carson Dean – 6
  • Alex Sanford – 5
  • Jayden Johnson – 4
  • Anton Juncaj – 4
  • Brad Spence – 4
  • Cam Ball – 3
  • Selman Bridges – 3
  • Kaden Henley – 3
  • Miguel Mitchell – 3
  • Quincy Rhodes – 3
  • Doneiko Slaughter – 3
  • Xavian Sorey – 3


  • Quincy Rhodes – 1 (3 yards)

Tackles for Loss

  • Nico Davillier – 1 (2 yards)
  • Jon Hill – 1 (2 yards)
  • Kavion Henderson – 0.5 (1.5 yards)
  • JJ Hollingsworth – 0.5 (1.5 yards)

QB Hurries

  • Carson Dean – 1

Pass Breakups

  • Nico Davillier – 1
  • Christian Ford – 1
  • Tevis Metcalf – 1
  • Miguel Mitchell – 1

Fumble Recoveries

  • Ahkhari Johnson – 1

Post-Scrimmage Interviews

Following the scrimmage, reporters got to talk to a pair of Arkansas football players — linebacker Carson Dean and wide receiver Isaiah Sategna — and special teams coordinator Scott Fountain:

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