Thursday Grid Report, 10/9

Can the Hogs play sharp, error-free football after an open date? That's the assignment with a solid Auburn squad coming to town Saturday.

Will Arkansas benefit from an open date, or suffer? That was the question asked some of the Razorback coaches after Thursday's workout. The consensus seems to be that Arkansas will play well Saturday against Auburn after taking the past weekend off.

"Our guys are tired of practicing and they are ready to hit someone," said James Shibest, the wideout coach for the Arkansas offense. "You can feel it the last couple of days that they are tired of this practice stuff."

Quarterback coach Roy Wittke said he's seen open dates work both ways, but thinks a mature team knows how to use them and that the Hogs are mature.

"I think you usually see a mature bunch know how to get healed up and then use that open date to sharpen their skills and fundamentals," Wittke said. "We've really worked on fundamentals. I think both Matt Jones and Ryan Sorahan have done a lot of things to get better the past two weeks."

Houston Nutt, the UA head coach, thought the Hogs put the capper on an excellent two weeks of preparation on Thursday. He called it "a good day. We have worked hard to improve on a lot of things this past two weeks. We've gotten healthier and we are ready to play. We worked extremely hard on special teams, especially our punt return team."

The Hogs have good news on the injury front. It does not appear there will be any problems for George Wilson, Lawrence Richardson, Bo Mosley, Arrion Dixon and Chase Pressley. All have battled assorted injuries over the last several weeks. All should play.

"Bo Mosley looked good the last two days," said Dave Wommack, defensive coordinator. "He's come around. Dean Weber, our trainer, told me after he was hurt at Alabama not to count him out because Bo is a quick healer. Bo told me on Sunday that he had gone and run some over the weekend and felt good. He's done well the last few days."

Shibest expects Wilson to be ready on Saturday.

"George is fine now," Shibest said. "He looked good the last two days. We will get plays from him and we also know that with him out of some of the practitces the past two weeks, some others like Chris Baker, Carlos Ousley and Thomas Crowder stepped up and had good workouts. We've got some depth and have some guys getting better at wideout."

Tight ends coach Clifton Ealy thinks his troops have improved, too.

"I see both Jason Peters and Jared Hicks getting better each week with their blocking," Ealy said. "They know we are going to find them in the passing game, but that the key is the way they block. If they block well, they will be open and that has been what we've seen over the last three weeks, better and better blocking."

Ealy said youngsters Mason Templeton and Jonathon Barry have had solid workouts this week, although both remain on the redshirt list.

"Since we committed to holding them out, we've tried each week on Tuesday and Wednesday to stay a little after practice and get a couple of guys from Tracy Rocker and work on the blocking with Mason and Jonathon," Ealy said.

"Both are getting more physical. Mason is up to 250 and that sounds great, but he's so tall, at 6-7, that he's still a little light. He's getting better at the blocking. That's all he lacks. Jonathon is still learning. He's behind on football instincts, but we've got some time with him. I'd expect to start seeing him make a move when we get to spring ball. I love his potential and we like what we have in both of them at tight end."

Wommack knows where Auburn will attack the Hogs, in the C gap, or over their tackles on offense.

"That's where we have to do a good job and that's not just with one player," Wommack said. "We have to do well with all of our defensive players to protect that C gap. Auburn's backs do a good job of breaking glass, running through tackles. Our tackling has to be superb."

Wommack said there has been a change in the depth chart at middle linebacker. Sam Olajubut remains the starter, but Brandon Holmes has moved ahead of Marcus Whitmore in the backup slot at mike linebacker. Both should play against Auburn. Wommack said Holmes has been solid the past two weeks. Olajubutu played most of the 'Bama game, but Wommack expects to use Holmes in relief some this week. Holmes will give the Hogs some added size against Auburn's big tailbacks.


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