Tuesday Grid Report, 3/23

Arkansas coach Houston Nutt thinks he'll see plenty of mistakes when he grades film of the first scrimmage of the spring.

Arkansas coach Houston Nutt didn't sound as excited after Tuesday's grid workout as he did after the previous day's practice.

"We've got to be tougher," Nutt said after the Hogs completed their first day in full pads, finishing the workout with a 15-minute scrimmage in Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

"We hit for the first time and that caught up to us. You've got to know the snap count. We had a lot of mistakes and that's to be expected. You are either going to get better or worse, and we have to make sure we are getting better."

Defensive coordinator Dave Wommack saw some improvement in some areas Tuesday, but a serious mistake late in the day left a bad taste in his mouth and caused the entire defensive squad to run a long series of sprints after the workout.

The Hogs finish each practice by running several plays against no defense, and by lining up in a defense without an offense on the field. When the defense took its turn, there was one play with only 10 players and another sequence when the entire first defense celebrated in the end zone. That seemed to set up the defensive coaches with Bobby Allen, the secondary coach, warning all of the defenders that they better get some water because some running was on the way.

"The running was for lining up with just 10," Wommack said, "but I guess that stuff (in the end zone) was partly the blame, too. We just were not happy with the way things ended. When you forget to line up with a corner, that's going to be a touchdown. That can't happen."

Nutt was asked if there were any individual highlights in Tuesday's workout.

"No, I don't think so," Nutt said. "Not really. I don't want to mention any individuals just yet. We've got to do better than what we did today. That's what I want to communicate.

"I'm anxious to get in the film room, see the mistakes and then let the players see them and then get back out here and correct them."

There were no touchdowns during the brief scrimmage, but quarterback Robert Johnson did connect with Chris Baker on a streak pattern for a touchdown during pass skeleton drills in the stadium. But, that play should have been an interception. It was slightly underthrown and throw away from Baker to the middle of the field. The ball went through Vickiel Vaughn's hands and popped into the air right to Baker.

During the scrimmage, De'Arrius Howard popped a 20-yard run, bouncing outside his right tackle. Robert Johnson did complete one short flare to running back Brandon Kennedy, but struggled the rest of the time on passing plays. He was swarmd a couple of times, once when Elliott Harris and Jeb Huckeba converged on the pass rush. Johnson did bounced outside on a scramble for a 15-yard gain before Marcus Whitmore forced him out of bounds.

"We were missing some people up front," Nutt said. "Tony Ugoh went out early with a slight hamstring pull. And, Zac Tubbs left early for a class. And then we had Skye Peterson out for a lab. So we were short up front. We need people to stay healthy. Tony needs to stay on the field and get all of this he can get."

Nutt praised Howard's conditioning and said the tailback is in "great shape." Howard lined up with the first unit to open the scrimmage. He scored twice during middle drill work earlier in the day. DeCori Birmingham fumbled on his first carry of the scrimmage when he took a helmet to the knuckles of his right hand.

Wommack said he saw improvement from cornerbacks Chris Houston and John Johnson on Tuesday, noting both look the part.

"Houston made the most progress," Wommack said. "You can tell he's got ability and John Johnson has some instincts and ability that tell you he can play that position. Johnson still has a lot to learn, but I'm encouraged about him there.

"We are just so inexperienced that we are going to make mistakes. But I've been saying this for several days now -- you cannot use that as an excuse. We've done a lot of installing the last two days and it's obvious to me that we have not cut it loose yet. We are playing and looking real slow, slower than we are. That will change as we move through the spring. I think you'll see a lot of improvement over the next week as players begin to understand and pick things up.

"We miss guys like Caleb Miller. Don't underestimate the kind of player that guy was the past three years. He made so many plays on his instincts. Desmond Sims is learning, but he's not cutting it loose yet. That's a big-play man in our defense and right now we don't have anyone there who can make plays like Caleb did. I like Desmond's ability and he'll get there. It just takes time."

Nutt said tight end Mason Templeton might be lost for most of the spring with what has been diagnosed as a severe ankle sprain.

"He's going to miss a lot and you hate that because he really was heavy in our plans this spring," Nutt said. "We are down to Jared Hicks and Jonathon Berry at tight end. We've moved Payne Hall from linebacker back to tight end."

The only other Razorback missing from practice Tuesday was tailback Dedrick Poole. Poole sustaind a slight groin pull on the final play of Monday's workout and couldn't go full speed on Tuesday.

The Hogs will not practice Wednesday, instead turning over their facilities for the NFL's pro timing day. Several former players, including Shawn Andrews, were on hand for Tuesday's workout. Andrews said he's lost around 50 pounds to dip just under 350 for his session with NFL scouts. Andrews looked much thinner than at any time since his freshman year at Arkansas when he reported at just over 330 pounds.

"He looks just plain thin," said Harold Horton, vice president of the Razorback Foundation. "His face even looks thin. He really looks good, don't you think?"


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