Tuesday Grid Report, 11/11

Arkansas had to find some replacement in several spots for an injured player. The Hogs prepared for Saturday's home game with New Mexico State.

Arkansas worked for only about 70 minutes Tuesday as they returned to the practice field in preparation for Saturday's game with New Mexico State. The focus was on filling some spots created by the injury to Michael Robinson.

"Michael played on a couple of special teams and has been solid all year," said Houston Nutt. "That worries you. He always did his job. It's a concern anytime you make a change this late in the season."

Elliott Harris, the Hogs' junior defensive end, will take Robinson's spot on kick coverage teams.

Defensive coordinator Dave Wommack said he cross trained Desmond Sims at both wolf and stinger linebacker slots to make up for Robinson's loss. Robinson broke a wrist against South Carolina and is out for the year.

"Desmond can handle both wolf and stinger, our two outside linebacker positions," Wommack said. "We will give him a limited amount of duties at stinger. We had talked about resting Caleb Miller, our stinger, this week, but we just can't do it because of our depth. Caleb will go Saturday. We need him. He's got a banged up shoulder, but he isn't going to miss. He doesn't want to miss."

Sims was the starter to open the season at wolf linebacker, the weakside spot, with Jimarr Gallon on the mend with a broken finger. He's played a lot as Gallon's backup as the season has progressed.

"We'll see how Desmond does this week at stinger," Wommack said. "I'd like to play him some there in this game, but I want to see how much he knows. We'll make that decision on Thursday."

Wommack said he is concerned about the New Mexico State attack this week.

"They have a great offensive line and two fine quarterbacks," Wommack said. "They've played two and one is a fine passer and one is a fine runner. They can do a lot of things with them and will play them both at the same time to really give you some substitution problems because of their threat. You'd like to call a defense based on one quarterback, but they don't let you do that.

"They are a different team than what you saw on TV against Texas. They changed three starters up there and they've really blocked things pretty well. Lately, they are averaging 230 yards a game on the ground. They have two tackles in the 350 range. You better be ready because they are going to come right at you. And, if you go after the quarterback, they both will take off and they are 4.5 or 4.6 guys. That makes it tough."

Offensively, DeCori Birmingham got the bulk of the work at tailback as the Hogs tried to rest both Cedric Cobbs and De'Arrius Howard at practice Tuesday. At quarterback, Matt Jones took a considerable amount of snaps, including quite a few passing plays. Jones passed the ball more than he has on most Tuesdays, but that made sense since he had three days rest since the Hogs played on Thursday.

The mood at practice was upbeat. That much was obvious when Houston Nutt, Matt Jones and Dowell Loggains went the length of the field in a three-man weave normally seen more on a basketball court late in the workout. Reporters on the sideline were hopeful that Jones would dunk the ball over the cross bar at the south end of the practice field at the end of the down-and-back drill. It didn't happen.


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