Houston Nutt thought the Hogs had their best Tuesday workout of the season, and for sure a better day than they did at this time last week.
"We had great focus and great concentration," Nutt said. "Our guys were into it. We had the kind of day we'll need and then we have to build on it.
"We had a great team meeting before we went on the field and that carried over into a great practice."
The Hogs will travel to Alabama to open SEC play on Saturday, and they will be short handed. Linebacker Clarke Moore has "a non-displaced tibial plateau fracture." He is out for the season, said trainer Dean Weber.
"He will be on crutches for four weeks, and I'd say he'll miss eight weeks altogether," Weber said. "He's out for the season.
"But there is good news. His ligaments are strained, but there are no tears. He will not need surgery. He'll have a lot of atrophy with the leg in a cast and that is why he's out for eight weeks. But he won't be rehabbing an ACL tear. With the swelling we saw, that's what we thought. In all my years, I've only seen one other injury like Clarke's. He still has a lot of swelling, but we are encouraged that he doesn't need surgery."
With Moore out, linebacker coach Dave Wommack elevated Sam Olajubutu to first team and moved Brandon Holmes from end to middle linebacker to share time with Marcus Whitmore behind Olajubutu.
"We need three there and we need three at stinger (linebacker)," Wommack said. "We will have six ready to play at those two spots. I wish we didn't have to move Brandon, but he's been good about doing whatever the team needs. He's behind and needs practice time and we'll do our best to get him some repetitions."
Wommack said Olajubutu had a fantastic performance against North Texas, grading out at 88 percent.
"In all my years, I've had only two other linebackers earn as many production points as Sam did in this game," Wommack said. "Part of it was that some plays came into his area, but he handled his assignments. To be honest, 88 percent is really good.
"What we want to make sure that happens is that Sam stays within the framework of the defense. He'll get to make plays if he stays within what we are calling.
"He's not very tall ... maybe 5-10 ... but he plays like he's 6-4. Last year when we were redshirting him as a freshman, when we wanted to make sure the defense got a win in our one-on-one (ring) drill to start the day, we'd call Sam's name. He'd get the defense a victory. He has unbelievable strength, leverage and quickness."
Cornerback Lawrence Richardson participated in the early part of Tuesday's drills after missing most of the last two games with a high ankle sprain.
"He went early and did fine, and then we pulled him out," said secondary coach Bobby Allen. "We don't want to do too much and have the ankle swell. We'll try to do a little each day and then check him in pre-game warmups and make a game-time decision. We've got Michael Coe and Bo Mosley ready to go at corner but we'd like to get Lawrence back this week if possible."
Matt Jones took a few snaps at wide receiver early in the day to rest his shoulder, but was at quarterback with the first team when the Hogs worked in the team portions of practice.
Tuesday Grid Report, 9/23
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