Arkansas coach Houston Nutt thought the Hogs "got better" Thursday, their fourth day of fall practice. They took advantage of cool, fall-like conditions in the Ozarks for a three-hour workout, counting the early time spent with the newcomers to start the early afternoon workout.
The only bad news on the day concerned the injury report. A pair of Little Rock Central players had some tough luck on that front.
Fred Bledsoe suffered a knee injury early in Thursday's workout. The head coach said an MRI would be needed to determine the degree of the injury, although team officials later indicated that it would not be needed as the injury was determined not to be severe. Dedrick Poole, injured in collision Wednesday with Chris Baker, tried to practice Thursday, but had to stop early in the workout. Poole's injury was to a shoulder. His injury is not believed to be serious.
Nutt did not know when Poole would be able to practice, but tried to encourage the junior tailback by pointing to Baker.
"Chris Baker was back out there and had a great day today," Nutt said. "He's grown up a lot in a year. He's much different from last year.
"Dedrick is a talented, talented player, but he needs to be on the field. That's the message that we keep telling them ... that you need to be on the field. With Dedrick, it's always been something."
Nutt loved the enthusiasm of his team Thursday, but it was hard to be anything but excited with the weather that greeted them on the UA practice field at 2 p.m. It was 78 degrees at the warmest point in the day, and was cloudy during the early part of the workout.
"We got better today," Nutt said. "The weather was like paradise. That was an unbelievable cloud to start out. It was cool and our players were really moving around.
"I love the enthusiasm of our players and I love the way our defensive line with all those seniors is trying to lead. Guys like Jeb Huckeba, Elliott Harris, Titus Peebles and Arrion Dixon are really leading along with Marcus Whitmore (at linebacker) behind them. We are getting great leadership from Matt Jones and Steven Harris behind them."
The Hogs emphasized the passing game in Thursday's workout, with a special look at the short stuff over the middle to the tight ends and backs.
"Mike Markuson wanted us to really check our protection in some of those sets," said Roy Wittke, quarterback coach. "We are working hard on our passing game. We aren't in full pads and it's good to work on protection when you aren't doing so much with the run game like you will after putting on full pads. So that was good to see today.
"I think Matt Jones is having great practices. He sees things so well as a fourth-year player. You take that for granted sometime. We are making progress with the other quarterbacks, too, but Matt has been exceptional."
The Hogs will practice only once Friday, in the morning at around 9 a.m. They will take the afternoon off to rest their legs before two-a-days begin on Saturday. The Saturday workouts are set for around 9 a.m. and again at 3 p.m. A scrimmage is set for the afternoon. The lone practice on Sunday is set for around 3 p.m.