Tuesday Grid Update, 11/19

It's about winning as Arkansas comes off of an open date against a physical Mississippi State defense. A week of work against the Bulldogs seemed to pay off Tuesday.

Arkansas returned to the practice field with winning on the mind and with the knowledge that Mississippi State won't be easy when the Hogs arrive in Little Rock for an 11:21 a.m. Saturday kickoff.

"Winning, that's what we need to get done," said David Hurd, senior left tackle. "That's what we are looking for, a win. Right now, that's all that's on our mind.

"That's the only thing that matters, get a win. You can ask me about anything and that's all that matters."

Mississippi State enters with a 4-6 overall record, 1-5 in the SEC with only a victory over Kentucky (28-22) to put them ahead of 0-6 Arkansas in the SEC West. The Bulldogs, especially on the defensive side, did push No. 1 Alabama last week in a 20-7 loss.

Hurd said he was impressed by the MSU front.

"They are big and I did see what they did to Alabama," Hurd said. "They have defensive ends that are 6-6, 260. You know the record, then you look at the film and see what they can do. They have size and athletic ability and they play with great, great effort."

Sam Pittman, Hurd's offensive line coach, said the videotape of Mississippi State tells the story. It will be a physical bunch of Bulldogs waiting on the Hogs in Little Rock. But Pittman likes the way the practice week started and the carry over from last week's open date for the Hogs.

"We practiced well," Pittman said Tuesday. "We got a big-time jump on Mississippi State over the open week and it helped us. There were not a lot of mistakes today. It was a good Tuesday.

"Mississippi State's front? They are fast and heavy. We played against them last year at Tennessee. They do a few new things, but a lot is similar.

"They can really rush the passer. They are a good team. I know about their record, but they are better than their record. They coach them very well. Everyone saw how they played Alabama. They are a physical group and you saw that against Alabama."

Is State a blitzing team?

"They blitzed 22 of 68 plays against Alabama," Pittman said. "That is how they were against most everyone else but Texas A&M. They went after (Johnny) Manziel. On third down, it's either dropping eight, or blitz. We'll have to figure out how they are going to play against us."

Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney liked the way Tuesday went on the practice field.

"I thought we had a pretty solid day out there today," Chaney said. "I was pleased with the kids. We went out and we got through it. We worked on about every aspect of the game plan. We got a little jump on it last week, which has helped us. A few more reps on some things we needed to. But I was pleased with our effort and our attention to detail seemed to be pretty good today. I was happy with what we got done."

Chaney said there is one big word for what he's seen on tape of the Bulldogs in the defensive front.

"Heavy," Chaney said. "Very heavy up front. The kids up front play hard. They knock people around. The secondary is very sound. I think they're a very good defense.

"I think they don't make mistakes. The linebackers have good length and make a lot of plays. The secondary is always where they need to be. They're good tacklers. I think they're a formidable foe. They're going to create some challenges for us. Sometimes you know where they're at, but they're still hard to block. They're heavy."

The losing streak comes up in almost every interview. Chaney was asked if it is a heavy weight for the Hogs, trying to avoid losing their eighth straight.

"With me personally, as a coach you hate losing football games," Chaney said. "That's what we judge ourselves on, is what takes place out there.

"What I see is the development of the program and some of the things that don't show up on the scoreboard. I watch it and the kids are growing and the character and culture of what we're trying to get going, I see those things.

"We need to get a W so everybody can kind of witness some of the things that are going on. We understand that. But as far as records and things, I don't concern myself a lot with that. We go to work, personally I go to work, and as a staff we go to work and do as good as we possibly can.

The Bulldogs forced four turnovers from Alabama, a team that is normally good with ball security. That has not been a positive for the Hogs until their last game when they won the turnover battle, 3-1, against Ole Miss.

"Well, it's been our Achilles' heel all season," Chaney said, "so, you know, regardless of what took place at the Alabama game this past week for Mississippi State it's been our issue all year long.

"So we preached it hard all last week. We did again today. We'll continue to do so throughout the week.

"I feel like today there was a couple opportunities where Brandon (Allen) could've thrown it up and he didn't. He threw it away and he checked the ball down a couple times good. So I saw some things today that gave me some hope maybe we're getting a little more conscious of that ball security. We've still got to go do it on Saturday and we're looking forward to the opportunity."

Allen has 11 touchdown passes against eight interceptions. The strength of the UA offense has been the running game with Alex Collins leading the way with 946 yards and Jonathan Williams close behind with 783.

Chaney sees the growth in Collins, a true freshman listed as the co-starter with Williams at running back.

"Well, he's had a good year," Chaney said of Collins. "I think when you talk about freshmen you look for consistency. Any good football player shows up every day to work and gets better and consistency is the mark of a good performer. I think that he's shown up every day to work and he's shown up every Saturday.

"And he's been more consistent then a lot of freshmen are in my history. So I think that from a development standpoint, he's had to battle through some soreness. He's had to battle through some injuries. and probably some changes in his life as he's going through his first major semester in college. I think he's handled it very well and I'm proud of what he's been able to get done."

What would it mean to get both backs over 1,000 yards?

"Well, I think that any time you have the production that we're having right now at the tailback spot, we're proud of that and we'd love for them to get as many yards as we can," Chaney said. "And if they end up over 1,000 yards, which is usually a good bench mark, we'd be awfully proud of them."

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