Arkansas worked in full pads Monday afternoon for the first time. Not surprisingly, Houston Nutt sent his troops straight into a full scrimmage.
"The defense was ahead, but we did have one nice sustained drive by the offense," said Nutt, the Hogs' head coach. "The hitting was crisp. You could hear the leather popping and I liked that.
"What stands out is our freshmen. They don't back down. They got after it. We had some new ones step up today. Guys like Lerinezo Robinson had a good day. He made two nice hits. This is the first time he cut it loose. DeCori Birmingham had a good day at wide receiver. We've got a lot in this class that are doing well."
Matt Jones made a solid play on a rollout, keeping for a 12-yard gain. Afterwards, Nutt reaffirmed his plans to leave the true freshman at quarterback.
"We had a lot of quarterbacks go down last year," Nutt said. "He's going to stay there."
Quarterback Zak Clark said his elbow was fine despite sitting out the latter stages of Sunday's practice to dip it in an ice bucket.
"That was the coaches decision," Clark said. "I didn't want to stop. But, it is a little sore. I threw over 100 passes and Coach Lee thought it was enough. I could have kept going and wanted to keep going. He said they were going to give the rest of the days to the other quarterbacks, so I went ahead and let them ice it. It's fine today."
The kickers stayed after the afternoon practice to get some extra work under the eyes of James Shibest and Bobby Allen. It appears that Brennan O'Donohoe and David Carlton have gained a slight edge on the rest of the kickers. O'Donohoe has been consistent on placements and kickoffs, but it was Carlton who hit the most impressive kickoffs on Monday.
Marvin Jackson could not finish the conditioning because of a groin pull that has bothered him for several days. Nutt tried him at wide receiver earlier in the afternoon practice, but Jackson seemed to reinjure the groin.
Clarke Moore, freshman from Van Buren, was moved from middle linebacker to tight end with the news that J. Strain might be out from four to six weeks because of a strain to his medial collateral knee ligament.
"Clarke is over 240 and he can run and has great hands," Nutt said. "He's raw and needs some work at tight end, but he said he'd do it for the team. We need some depth at tight end and Clarke can help our team."
There were no new injuries. James Johnson is expected to return to practices Tuesday after doctors said his injury was just a tear of some old scar tissue and not any damage to his repaired anterior cruciate ligament. He was jogging without a limp during the workout.
However, the Hogs learned tailback Radale Pearson is lost for the season. He will undergo surgery to repair an anterior cruciate ligament tear in his right knee. The surgery will take place in two weeks. He was injured in practice on Friday afternoon.
In the morning workout Monday, Nutt broke from his normal schedule of two-a-days, taking the Hogs outside in a two-hour practice in shorts and shoulder pads.
"We've been going inside in the mornings, but that hasn't been good for some of our players," Nutt said. "We've got a lot of guys coming off of injuries and that stuff (Astroturf inside Walker Pavilion) is on concrete. It's just hard on their joints. We are going to change our schedule and be on grass the rest of the way for both practices each day."
Several of the walking wounded were back on the field for Monday's early workout. Lawrence Richardson and Josh Melton worked after sitting out Sunday's drill.
Defensive coordinator John Thompson raved about the play on his side of the ball.
"We've talked about getting to the ball quicker and I'm seeing that start to pay off in the form of turnovers," Thompson said. "We are flying to the ball. Of course, it helps when you have more speed out there. Our secondary is doing a nice job. They can get to the ball."
Thompson praised first-team corners Ahmad "Batman" Carroll and Lawrence Richardson, along with safeties Ken Hamlin and both Corey Harris and Eddie Jackson at strong safety.
"We'ver got a nice deal at safety with Corey being able to play free and strong," Thompson said. "And, it's a good situation because Eddie Jackson is really picking up strong safety. We can roll those three guys in and out, and it makes them all work hard knowing there is another combination that would get them off the field."
Thompson said Marvin Jackson has been slowed by a little bit of a groin pull and is not full speed and is not able to really challenge Batman or Richardson at this point. When he gets well, he might. Right now, Batman and Richardson are clear No. 1s. I asked if that means Jackson might move to offense?
John responded, "Dad gum, you sound just like Houston!"
At middle linebacker, Thompson feels more secure after watching his trio of holdovers in Shane Collins, Jermaine Petty and Wesley O'Neal.
"Shane is doing great, and Jermaine is starting to come on," Thompson said. "He's eased off the clutch and is starting to get it. I think Jermaine is going to be fine. And, then you've got Wesley in the mix. He has stepped it up. He will play this year and I'm not just talking about special teams. He will help us at middle linebacker."
Nutt said the morning practice wasn't perfect.
"We had some missed assignments," he said. "Some guys were tired and sore. They have to concentrate better. This is the grind. The next four to five days and that covers six or seven workouts, will be extremely important. You have to reach back for some extra energy and focus. That's what I talked to them about after the practice."
A group of 15 players had extra running after practice. Nutt wouldn't disclose the reasons, but he did raise his eyebrows when one reporter suggested those running might not have had the desired attendance at the "voluntary" summer workouts. In each case, the players running seemed to be handling the extra running in fine fashion.
Matt Jones (above) is under center Monday morning.
Tarvaris Jackson (above) takes some snaps Monday.
Raymond House (56) sparkled Monday, recovering a fumble.
Tiny Gerald Howard (above) gets the play from Houston Nutt before stepping into the offensive huddle.