Arkansas is breaking in a new offensive line, losing all five starters from last year. Arkansas coach Houston Nutt knows much work is still ahead for the new unit, but he was excited after Tuesday's workout.
"Our offensive line made major strides today," Nutt said after the line dominated play in a middle drill session. "They blocked extremely well today. They opened up some holes."
De'Arrius Howard scooted into the end zone three times and DeCori Birmingham scored twice as the line blocked some huge holes.
"Kyle Roper was excellent," Nutt said of the junior center. "He's having a great spring. He's making the calls and executing his blocks for us at center.
"Gene Perry has been a journey man and he really is having a good spring. Jared Hicks is showing his leadership at tight end. You can see the athleticism showing up with these guys in the offensive line.
"We've put in our blitz packages up front on defense the last two days and our offensive line is doing a nice job picking things up. They are stepping with their right feet and getting their pads on the right man. We still have a long ways to go, but you can see good things happening up front with our offensive line."
Nutt continues to be impressed with Cedric Washington at wide receiver. The redshirt freshman has put together a series of big plays so far this spring.
"Cedric Washington has really stepped up," Nutt said. "He's still got to do it in a game, but he's been solid and fun to watch this spring. He's running great routes and making big plays after the catch."
Wideout coach James Shibest raved about Washington after Tuesday's drills.
"Cedric Washington has been unbelievable this spring," Shibest said. "He's so fluid and natural. I want to see him do it under the lights, but I think he will be fine. He's been a quarterback and understands pressure situations so you think he will thrive in that situation and like it.
"He's really been excellent in everything we've done. He's caught it well and he is just a really good route runner. He's smooth as he comes out of the cuts and just glides. He looks like a special player and he can go get the ball. He's got to learn some of the finer points that really help you in game situations, the things that guys like George Wilson and Richard Smith had down. But I think it will all work out for him.
"I love this group of receivers. I think when we add guys like Steven Harris and David Thompson in the fall, and guys like Anthony Brown and Marcus Monk, we are going to have a special group. David Thompson's proven to me that he's come back from his knee surgery. He's done all of the drills. We've just kept him out of the contact.
Shibest expects that he may get to work with Matt Jones at wideout before the end of the spring, but senses that Jones' legs are still a little rubbery from putting football and basketball seasons back-to-back.
"What you see developing is that we have two very similar quarterbacks in Matt and Robert Johnson and that they will be interchangable in our offense," Shibest said. "That may enable Matt to move out to wideout a little more. That's where he's probably going to be at the next level and it would be nice if we could play him some there next year. It may be that Matt's legs come back by next week and we move him out there some for our last week of practices. We'll see how things develop there, but I'd like to get some time with him this spring."
Nutt likes what Jones is doing at quarterback for right now. Tuesday was Jones' fourth workout of the spring.
"Matt has been awsome so far this spring," Nutt said. "You see him taking charge as a quarterback. He knows he's the only starter back and the guys are looking to him more. I see more leadership than him right now.
"It's obvious that our guys love to follow him. He's showing poise and is taking charge of the huddle. He seems more mature to me.
"Our guys know Matt pretty well. They've been around him and know what he can do. Now if you expect him to be like Clint Stoerner or a Brett Farve, he's not going to be that. But he's the best playmaker that Arkansas has ever had and our guys know that. They know what he can do in a game and there is a lot of respect for him."
Tuesday Grid Practice, 3/30
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