Wednesday Grid Update, 10/22

Darius Philon loves the physical part of practice. And, that's why the sophomore defensive tackle has loved what Bret Bielema has dished out for the Arkansas football team this week in preparation for Alabama-Birmingham.

Darius Philon likes all practices when the pads are worn, but he admitted after Wednesday's practice that the last two days were particularly fun. There was plenty of work in the inside run period, a smashmouth segment of practice.

"That's when you get to work on double teams and have some fun," Philon said. "It's pretty physical and anytime I can do that it's great. That's a dream for a defensive linemen."

Just for clarification, in the inside run sessions, generally, it's the defensive linemen getting double teamed. That gives you an idea of Philon's mindset.

"I'm just glad any day I can get to go to practice," Philon said. "I love it. It's a chance to get better."

This might be the portion of the season that inside run isn't a heavy part of the day, but Bret Bielema said earlier this week that he wanted some physical practices. It might fit into what the Hogs will see Saturday against Alabama-Birmingham.

Plus, defensive line coach Rory Segrest said the Hogs are playing a team that is physical and is a running team.

"That's what we need this week," Segrest said. "They love the run. They have a physical back and he's gotten yards after contact. It always starts with stopping the run. They have a back who falls forward."

Linebacker Martrell Spaight said he's been impressed by UAB running back Jordan Howard, a physical 224-pound sophomore.

"What I've seen on film is a guy who gets yards after contact," Spaight said. "He doesn't go down on first contact, just leans forward and gets some more. He's a very physical back. Our job is to drop him on first contact."

Players don't usually provide injury updates. That's left for the head coach. Bielema did mention that top middle linebacker Brooks Ellis is close to making it back to play this week. So someone asked Spaight if he thought Ellis would play.

"He's walking pretty good so I think he will (play against UAB)," Spaight said, although walking and practicing are two different things.

Linebackers coach Randy Shannon knows the Hogs now have a little depth at middle linebacker. Josh Williams led the team with 14 tackles against Georgia as the fill-in for Ellis.

"Josh played well," Shannon said. "He made all of the calls and got them right. There are always things you can improve upon, but he did very well for a first game. He showed his speed and ability to make plays outside."

Shannon was asked about Bielema's comments about asking coaches to look at themselves as well as players in hopes of finding improvement.

"We always do that, so yes, we have," Shannon said. "We are going to critique each other. We are going to look in the mirror and find ways to help become better coaches.

"We've tried to do that this week. We are working at finding everything we can to make Arkansas better. It's not so much about what the other team does. We know what they do. But it's about finding the details of Arkansas and getting them better. That's all of the little things. That's how we'll get better."

Segrest, who handles kickers, said Sam Irwin-Hill has had a bounce back week in a battle to hold off Toby Baker as the punter after struggling in recent weeks.

"A decision has not been determined," Segrest said. "We are going to continue to evaluate. They have both had a good week. Sam has had a great week of practice. He's hit some great balls."

But that has been the case in other weeks, too.

"He's killed it in specialty work and it has not carried over to game day," Segrest said. "I see it as technical. He's rushed things and not hit the ball solid.

"Obviously, we need to win special teams. We have lost field position."

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