Grid/Hoops Report, 8/20

Both the football and basketball team conducted practices Wednesday morning. There was news on the injury front in both camps.

Arkansas worked hard in two different facilities in two different sports Wednesday. While Houston Nutt was working his football team in Walker Pavilion, Stan Heath was giving the hoop Hogs a tough practice in Walton Arena.

Nutt thought the Hogs had their best set of practices of preseason Wednesday after the team wrapped up a workout in full pads in the afternoon.

"We had great effort today," Nutt said. "Our defense was really chasing the ball. I loved the effort. We are listening and doing a good job of taking what we are asking and getting it done in the right way.

"We have some guys that are really sacrificing ... guys like Clarke Moore and Caleb Miller. We are unselfish. We had like Bo Lacey, Jason Peters and Shawn Andrews leading the sprints with the linemen. That's what it's all about. This is how you get better and you saw that today. We aren't there yet, but we are getting there."

Nutt was pleased with the medical news after Arrion Dixon's MRI. "It's just a sprain, and we are happy with that," Nutt said. "We should have him back in one week. That really helps."

Nutt was pleased with all aspects of the workout, but had special praise for the kickers.

"Jacob Skinner, our freshman punter, really stood out the last two days," Nutt said. "He has a live leg and he is getting the ball off in a hurry with great hang time. At placekicker, Chris Balisero and David Carlton are having a great battle. Both are doing exceptionally well. They are making it tough on us as far as picking one of them. Who will we pick ... the one who gets it through those uprights every time. Both are doing well."

Nutt also thinks the Hogs are making strides in the defensive line where Titus Peebles had a strong day.

"Titus has great feet," Nutt said. "He's someone that could help us. I like our new defensive linemen. Keith Jackson Jr. and Jeremy Harrell may be the toughest freshmen linemen we've had here. They remind me of a Ryan Hale as far as toughness. They are both doing very well.

"Guys like Jayson Johnson and Chase Pressley are getting better. Pressley just needed to get back on the field and get back to that form we saw in the spring. He did that today."

The Hogs also got to see Chris Baker at wide receiver after the freshman has spent the last week riding an exercise bike with a sore hamstring.

There were no serious injuries, but a bug hit some members of the team, especially the defensive secondary. Several members of the secondary lost their breakfast in what some described as a stomach bug. Lawrence Richardson, Batman Carroll and Marvin Jackson were held out of some of the afternoon drills as a precaution.

The Hogs worked for about 90 minutes in the morning in what was described as a polish and technique drill. There may be a brief scrimmage with some reserves and newcomers Wednesday afternoon, but not a fullscale scrimmage.

On the basketball floor, the Hogs went through their second and third workouts (the morning drill was open, the afternoon closed) in preparation of a trip to Cancun over the Labor Day weekend. Freshman were not allowed to participate so Stan Heath had a limited squad. The freshman will be able to practice on Monday when school begins.

Wenbos Mukubu will miss the games in Cancun after suffering a severe mucle tear to his quad in Tuesday afternoon's practice, the first of the pre-Cancun camp. Mukubu may be out for over one month.

Heath said the practice was "spirited and physical. Our guys jumped right in there and got after it. There was no need to go over things because they all know what our practices are like. The freshman can only watch right now, and I asked them to come so they get an idea of what our practices are about."

Heath said the Hogs would have to learn the international rules before departing for Cancun. The games will be played with a trapezoid lane, the international 3-point line (21 feet) and a 24-second shot clock.

"There are a lot of other rules, including some interesting substitution setups," Heath said. "You can only sub when you are on offense, or when the offense subs. There will be times that you won't be able to sub if you are in foul trouble if you are on defense, so you have to watch it closely. And, only the coach can call a timeout.

"I like most of the rules, but the shot clock is going to have to make us play aggressive on offense."

Heath said Olu Famutimi, freshman from Detroit, will be watched carefully on this trip. Famutimi underwent knee surgery for an ACL injury exactly five months ago to the day.

"He's cleared to go, but he's not in condition and I think we are going to play him in segments just three minutes at a time," Heath said. "We just don't want to take any chances right now with him. He'll want to play more, but that's our plan right now."

Heath said the squad looked in great physical condition, and he said Michael Jones reported in solid shape.

"I was pleased," Heath said. "Michael chose not to spend the summer with us, and that's not what we prefer. I always feel better if they stay on campus. But, he did some things to add some bulk and went to some camps and had a trainer. It looks like he did a lot of good things this summer.

"He's not in my doghouse at all, but I will say that he didn't stay here with the team and I worry more about what his teammates think at this point. He has to have his teammates' respect and be able to look them in the eye. If he can do that, and they respect him, I think it will be fine."

Titus Peebles made an impression on the head coach with active feet.

Titus Peebles splits a double team block in practice Wednesday.

Keith Jackson Jr. has displayed toughness not usually seen in freshmen defensive linemen so far in fall camp.

Photos by Clay Henry

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