Arkansas worked for about an hour in full pads Tuesday afternoon, before Houston Nutt dismissed his squad for a swim at the Arkansas Athletes Outreach complex to end two-a-days.
"We gave them a little bit of a break today that they weren't expecting," Nutt said. "Our legs were a little tired, and we want to start taking it off of their legs."
Zak Clark didn't take a lot of snaps as coaches tried to rest a tired elbow.
"He's got a sore arm ... I guess it's in the elbow," Nutt said. "It's just from throwing so many passes in two-a-days. He's icing the shoulder, too, but the shoulder is fine. It gave Matt Jones and Tarvaris Jackson some extra reps today.
"We've got two nice young ones in Matt and Tarvaris, but we will begin to give most of the snaps to the older two from here on. Zak will get the bulk of the snaps, and the rest will go to Ryan Sorahan."
Nutt said he was displeased with the way some have portrayed the Saturday night scrimmage, noting that it was more of a scripted rehearsal than a scrimmage.
"We held out our best backs, and we looked at a lot of people and worked on substitutions," Nutt said. "We weren't trying to do anything other than to run some plays that we hadn't worked on as much in practice. It wasn't situational at all. If I had known the media was going to take the slant they did, I might have done something different."
Defensive coordinator John Thompson put it into perspective.
"If they wanted to take those good backs and hammer on us a little more, it would have been different," Thompson said. "Houston has a great offense ready to play and I wouldn't want to face it. Some stuff wasn't really gamelike at all.
"For example, there was a second-and-1 and they wanted to look at their screen. You don't call a screen on second-and-1 down there, but it was just to look at it. We all knew what was up there."
Nutt added, "Anyway, it's fine with me that the defense looks good. I like the way the defense is playing right now. We've been putting in our offense, now it's time for us to polish and get to a game plan. We are ready to do that. I like where we are, but some folks don't really see it. Defenses are going to be ahead and that's fine."
The two-a-day experiment with Kenny Sandlin at center and Jim Peters at right guard is apparently over, since Nutt suggests that Josh Melton will be the starter at center and Sandlin will start at right guard against UNLV.
And, another much hyped experiment on offense may be done. Sacha Lancaster was moved to defensive end, which will likely be his fulltime position the rest of the season.
"If he plays offense, it will be part-time," Nutt said. "We like Brandon Holmes, Cedric Cobbs and Mark Pierce at fullback, along with Mark Luther. We need to get Cedric and Brandon on the field at the same time and Fred Talley is really coming on right now. We are thin at defensive end right now with some injuries in the defensive line, so we need Sacha there. And he looked good today."
Lancaster bursted through for several minus yardage plays in Tuesday's contact work, including three great plays in middle drill.
"Sacha is doing great with us," Thompson said. "He's in our meetings now and we are going to keep him."
Thompson has a couple of other position switches in mind. Gavin Walls, out Tuesday with a leg injury, will be moved to bandit end and Jeb Huckeba will be elevated to second team behind Caleb Miller at stinger linebacker.
And, with Jermaine Petty taking more and more snaps with the first team at middle linebacker, Thompson may look at Shane Collins at wolf linebacker, or the weakside where Tony Bua and Jimmy Beasley are battling.
"There's nothing wrong with Tony and Jimmy," Thompson said. "We can win with them. But Shane is bigger and may be faster. We might have some situations where we get Jermaine, Shane and Caleb on the field together. Jermaine is turning into a real leader on our defense. Shane hasn't done anything wrong, but Jermaine has had a great, great fall camp."
The Hogs will meet early Wednesday, then practice around 3:45 p.m. Thursday as they roll into game-week preparations. There will be a dress rehearsal Thursday night that is closed to both the media and the fans, according to Nutt.
In th morning, Arkansas worked in shorts and shoulder pads for a little over an hour, polishing and looking at UNLV alignments both on offense and defense.
Offensive tackle Shannon Money returned to practice on a limited basis. Tight end J. Strain continued to work on the side. Both are recovering from medial collateral ligament sprains of the knee.
The Hogs gave extensive work to Zak Clark, Ryan Sorahan and Matt Jones at quarterback as they began to fine tune their offense. It appears that Clark is still a clear starter for the opener.
On the kicking game, it appears Brennan O'Donohoe will handle placements, but he is still being pushed by David Carlton. It is likely that Carlton will handle kickoff duties. A decision on both spots will be announced next week. Marvin Jackson appears to be the top punt return candidate.
Josh Melton worked with the first team at center, with Kenny Sandlin spending the morning at right guard. Sandlin has taken a lot of snaps at center over the last week after Melton missed time for dehydration and an elbow injury earlier in two-a-days.
The Hogs will work twice again on Wednesday, their final day of two-a-days. The morning practice will begin around 8:30 a.m., earlier than last week.
Thursday's workout, a walk-through in the stadium exactly one week from game time, will be closed to both the public and the media. And, no players or coaches will be available after practice, according to a release from Houston Nutt.
Southwest corner of the south end zone.
The south end zone.
The game field gets a drink.
The southeast corner.
George Wilson before practice on Tuesday.
Mike Markuson works with Bo Lacy (75) before practice.
Dean Webber (left) and Houston Nutt visit Tuesday.
Stretching before practice with the south end zone in the background.
That's Sacha Lancaster tackling Brandon Holmes in middle drill.
John Thompson (holding clipboard) and Bobby Allen make a point during the middle drill.
Jeb Huckeba (11) in middle drills. He will wear 15 in games.
Shawn Andrews (red jersey) in middle drill against Raymond House.
Houston Nutt visits with the squad before heading to the swimming pool.
The south end zone as it appeared Tuesday morning.
Photos by Clay Henry