Whaley sparks Razorback rout
Devwah Whaley scored Arkansas’s first touchdown of the season, as the Razorbacks opened their season with a 49-7 win over Florida A&M late on Thursday night.
The Bermudian running back scored on a five-yard touchdown run with 1:15 remaining in the first quarter to set the Southeastern Conference side on their way to a confidence-boosting victory over the Football Bowl Subdivision Rattlers.
Whaley also played a key role on the Razorbacks’ second score, throwing a key block on a blitzing Florida A&M pass rusher that gave quarterback Austin Allen time to find wide receiver Deon Stewart on a 16-yard touchdown pass that gave Arkansas a 14-0 lead with 7:54 remaining in the first half. It was the sort of block that will have professional scouts salivating.
Sophomore Whaley played his part for a dominant Arkansas ground attack that racked up 236 yards on 45 carries. Whaley had 60 yards on 12 attempts as true freshman Chase Hayden led the team with 120 yards and a touchdown on 14 rushes for an 8.6-yard average. David Williams, a senior transfer from South Carolina, Arkansas’s SEC rivals, added 23 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries.
One of Razorbacks’ head coach Bret Bielema’s main jobs early in the season is to figure out a way of getting the best out of his three main tailbacks after Rawleigh Williams, last season’s leading rusher, retired in the wake of a second neck injury in as many years in the spring.
So far, so good.
“I think the combination of [Hayden], Devwah and David, we really have three unique players at that position that kind of present a preparation nightmare for our opponents,” Bielema said.
Hayden became the first Arkansas true freshman to run for 100 yards in a season opener since Alex Collins, now with the Seattle Seahawks, rushed for 131 yards in the Razorbacks’ 34-13 win over Louisiana-Lafayette four years ago.
“It was a good feeling,” Hayden told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. “The O-line did a great job. They pretty much opened a hole up every play. Getting a lot of carries early on gives you a lot of confidence that the coaches believe in you.”
Williams, meanwhile, has a lot of confidence in Arkansas’s “three-headed monster”.
“I think it’s great giving us all an opportunity to play,” he said. “Normally you’ve got one running back to play, but having all of us keeps everybody fresh and being able to make plays.”
Senior Allen completed 14 of 19 passes for 135 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Back-up Cole Kelley, a 6ft 7in, 268lb freshman, connected on two of three passes for 44 yards, including a seven-yard touchdown to tight end Cheyenne O’Grady in the fourth quarter.
Arkansas play host to Texas Christian at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville next Saturday. Kick-off is 4.30pm Bermuda time and the game will be broadcast live on CBS. The Razorbacks defeated the Horned Frogs 41-38 in a double-overtime thriller a year ago in Fort Worth.
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