FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Korliss Marshall lived up to his “freak-show” billing, providing Arkansas’ offense with a much-needed boost of excitement.
The sophomore, who moved from part timer to full-time running back during the offseason, had 99 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns on six carries during the Razorbacks Red-White game Saturday.
On a day when Arkansas’ anemic passing game continued to struggle, Marshall’s 59-yard touchdown burst ignited the predominantly first-team Red to a 61-22 win over the White in front of an estimated 30,000 fans in Razorback Stadium.
Marshall split time between safety and running back during the Razorbacks difficult 3-9 record last season, but he had earned the “freak-show” designation from Arkansas coach Bret Bielema this spring — thanks to his explosive speed and moves.
Everyone saw exactly what Bielema was talking about on Saturday.
“It feels really good considering I didn’t get a touchdown last season,” Marshall said. “So, I got to get in here, show some of my skills and let everybody see the real speed.”
While Marshall provided the biggest highlight of the day, the game led to more questions about a passing game that was last in the Southeastern Conference with an average of 148.5 yards through the air last season.
Junior quarterback Brandon Allen struggled against the second-teamers in the first half before recovering in the second to finish 12-of-21 for 108 yards. Allen had a 5-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter to Patrick Arinze, but that came after a pair of first-half interceptions.
“I was very frustrated the first half, but we said we had a clean slate at halftime,” Allen said. “It wasn’t what we wanted, but we came back in the second half and did a lot better.”
Allen’s backups didn’t fare much better against a retooled Razorbacks defense under new coordinator Robb Smith, with Austin Allen throwing two interceptions while finishing 11-of-17 for 139 yards playing for both teams.
Freshman quarterback Rafe Peavey, a midterm enrollee, was 4-of-9 for 42 yards.
“I thought the part that was frustrating for me, just the first half we kind of looked like we were sleepwalking a little bit,” Bielema said. “Some guys weren’t ready to roll.”
Quarterback Towles emerges: In Lexington, Ky., Patrick Towles threw for 110 yards, and Jojo Kemp rushed for 90 yards and scored two touchdowns to lead the Kentucky Blue team to a 38-14 win over the White squad.
Towles started for the Blue team, was 9-of-10, and emerged as a potential front-runner for the top job next fall.
Reese Phillips and Drew Barker split time with Towles. Phillis completed 11 passes for 74 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Barker was 3-for-12 for 50 yards and one touchdown.
The quarterback race dwindled after Jalen Whitlow, who started eight games last season, announced he was transferring two weeks into spring practice.
Maxwell Smith, who started four games last season, sat out spring workouts while recovering from shoulder surgery.