Tuesday Practice Report, 9/11

Arkansas worked for over two hours in hopes of finding some offense Tuesday afternoon on its grass practice field. Images included.

Arkansas' football team practiced Tuesday afternoon, but head coach Houston Nutt wasn't sure there would be a game on Saturday. No decision has been made on whether the Hogs will play host to North Texas after the country was rocked by terrorist attacks.

        "With what has gone on in the world today, sometimes you know making those first downs it puts everything in perspective," Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt said. "We have a lot to be thankful for. We were part of major history today and I wanted to make sure our players understood that. We are in a great place. Don't ever take anything for granted.

"That is why it is important to go to study hall. That is why it is important to be on time in going to class and doing all those little things right that they take for granted. We had a lot of them worrying about when to go get gasoline for their car and other things, but once they got out here and got focused we had a good practice."

Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles visited with Southeastern Conference commissioner Roy Kramer and other league athletic directors on Tuesday about whether this weekend's games will be played as scheduled. No definitive decision was made on Tuesday, but a decision could come as early as Wednesday.

Nutt also was on the phone Tuesday comparing notes with friends and colleagues on how they were handling the tragedy in regards to their respective teams. The UA head coach said he considered canceling practice, but in the end decided that it was best for his squad to keep the previously scheduled agenda.

"We talked about it," Nutt said. "I called Larry Coker a good friend of mine and head coach at the University of Miami. I talked to a couple of other trainers and athletic directors and everyone was pretty much going about business. We decided to do the same. We just tried to keep it as business as usual.

"With the team, talked about what a great country we have, and discussed it some. Even our staff meetings were tough. We took a break and gathered around the television to see what was happening. It was a tough day all around the country."

Arkansas line coach Mike Markuson had a tough approach to practice. He worked the Hogs' blockers in intense fashion, and looked at some new combinations up front. Kenny Sandlin spent the entire day at center, working with the first team. Jim Peters worked with the first team at right guard, with Bo Lacy also seeing some time at right guard.

"I don't know how we will line up for the game Saturday, but we rolled some guys around in there to see if we could get better results," Markuson said. "I want to look at what we do over the next two days, then make a decision."

Markuson also gave freshman Shawn Andrews plenty of snaps at right tackle, with good results.

"Shawn is getting better," Markuson said. "He's coming on. He's really pushing Mark Bokermann at right tackle. Mark got better today, but Shawn can lock on and really block you. I just want him to be able to do everything we are asking, and learn all the plays. Shawn is getting better, and really coming on. We are going to work him real hard the next two days and see where we are at that point."

Could Andrews start against North Texas?

"Right now, I'd say no, but that could change," Markuson said. "We are going to look at him real hard. I think he's improving day by day and I like what he can do."

Markuson said the Hogs could still go with a starting unit that featured Josh Melton at center and Kenny Sandlin at right guard.

"We are evaluating it each day," Markuson said. "But, we want to look at every possibility. That's why we are working Bo Lacy at guard, too. We think Kenny Sandlin can help us at center, but we have to find someone to give us something positive at right guard, too."

Markuson said he had graded the film of the Tennessee game in three different areas.

"We look at what we do in pass blocking, run blocking and then an overall grade," Markuson said. "In the pass blocking area, we didn't get it done on the last play when Tennessee was coming hard with its ears layed back and we got a sack. Otherwise, we did okay in pass blocking."

Run blocking was a different story.

"This was a situation that we had a lot of missed assignments in the running game," he said. "We'd have a play where we had some guys get it done, but one guy and sometimes two would miss their assignments totally. That would bust the play.

"A lot of the time it was a mental situation. That's my fault. That's coaching. We've got guys who have been there before. They should know assignments. I thought they knew them. I've spent the last two days making sure they know their assignments, and their steps. That's what is so disappointing. I am very disappointed in the way we played up front. It was a situation that one drive wins the game. I'd like to think we could make one drive.

"Was it strictly mental. No, it was physical, too. We got whipped some. I'm not going to sit here and tell you it was just a situation of mental assignments being missed."

Have the Hogs had enough physical contact to get it done in games?

"I'm telling you, we have hit more than in the past, and I think we hit and do physical work as much as most teams these days," Markuson said. "But, we haven't been able to run the ball. It's been unfortunate situations sometimes. For example, we had a crease on a draw and the back missed it. Then, on the ball Cedric (Cobbs) dropped, we had a nice hole. That was a play that would have worked well. We had it blocked, but the back drops the pitch.

"But, we didn't have enough holes on the night. We didn't do enough to make room for our backs in the running game. I'm disappointed. I think we can do much, much better.

"Some of it was the rhythm of the game. We didn't do anything to help ourselves. If we move the chains, we get some momentum and confidence. But, it was three-and-out all night. We never changed the momentum and never got any confidence.

"I've never been in a situation where we couldn't run the ball. Heck, I was with an 0-11 team once, and we did manage to run the ball. We will do better. I believe that."

Do the Hogs need to scrimmage more?

"I don't think that is the problem, no I don't," Markuson said. "We do a lot of middle drills, tough physical contact. Many teams don't do that during the season. I'm satisfied that we have the physical work that is needed. Do we need to be more physical in the games? Yes. Have we been over the past? Yes. I think what we are doing is correct."

Defensive coordinator John Thompson  liked what he saw in many areas, but also saw some mental busts that put the Hogs run defense in a bad situation.

"We had some alignment busts," Thompson said. "And, Tennessee is the kind of team that has the ability to take advantage of those mental mistakes. We have to get those things corrected."

But, that is the good news along with the bad.

"It wasn't a

Hawgs Daily Top Stories