Thursday Grid Update, 10/17

Linebacker Martrell Spaight will return to the Arkansas starting lineup, Bret Bielema said after practice Thursday. Brandon Allen gets a full week of work as the Hogs head to No. 1 Alabama.

Arkansas linebacker Martrell Spaight is healthy and back in the starting lineup, head coach Bret Bielema said after practice Thursday night. Spaight had been slowed by a knee injury.

The Razorbacks travel to No. 1 Alabama on Saturday. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. for ESPN.

"We are healthy," Bielema said. "Except for Robert Thomas and Will Hines, we've got everyone back. Martrell will start unless we open in a nickel based on their personnel."

The key for the team as far as health might be at quarterback where Brandon Allen has been hindered by a shoulder injury since the second week of the season. He's played in the last three games, but was especially ineffective last week when the Hogs ran only 37 offensive plays and completed just four passes.

Bielema said earlier in the week that Allen had practiced full go only on Wednesdays the past few weeks, resting his shoulder on Tuesday and Thursday. That changed this week. Allen went all three days.

"Quite honestly, Brandon hadn't done much on Tuesdays," Bielema said. "He has done everything this week. To work on Tuesday and get the timing with the wide receivers is huge. He threw the ball very well today. He looked good today and we are excited to see what he can do on Saturday."

Bielema is hopeful that crowd noise is not a factor. The Hogs worked with noise in the background all week. He thinks the progression of playing on the road at Rutgers and then at Florida will help the team this week at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The team worked on the grass practice field on Thursday to match the surface they'll play on in Tuscaloosa.

"I think for some of the younger players it was a big challenge," Bielema said. "I think it was a big challenge for the two young guards. But I think we've progressed."

The battle at the cornerback spot vacated because of the injury to Will Hines continues. Carroll Washington will start, but Bielema said Jared Collins would play based on some solid plays last week.

Bielema said this week has been intense and physical. He said last week's practices after sustaining multiple injuries at Florida were lighter.

"Base on our results Saturday (in a 52-7 loss to South Carolina), you are going to do the opposite," he said. "We were so banged up last week, that we took the pads off Tuesday. We had them back on this week. We cut our meetings a little shorter, but our practices we didn't. We emphasized physical play. Today was one of our most spirited practices of the year."

How has pad level been as the season has progressed?

"I think that part has been good, especially with the two young guards," Bielema said. "They play low and physical."

Bielema provided some clues about next week, the first open week for the Hogs since the opener. They will have played eight straight games.

"We'll work in recruiting a lot next week," Bielema said. "It's fall break on campus, the first we've had here. Monday, our players will work with the strength and conditioning staff, lifting. My staff -- with me, my two coordinators and seven assistants on the road. We'll be back on Tuesday and Wednesday for practice. Then, we'll be back on the road Thursday night and all day Friday.

"I can't say anything to recruits, but I'll see them and can evaluate. I definitely will go watch some of our top prospects."

What will be the message?

"It will be different for each one, but one thing that we can definitely talk about is opportunity to play early," Bielema said. "You might tell one thing to an in-state player. And you can talk about certain things to those that have been here. Others, you might talk about other things."

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