Thursday Grid Report, 8/26

The Hogs caught a break at the end of their Thursday afternoon workout as Houston Nutt began to think about having a fresh team for the Sept. 4 opener against New Mexico State.

Arkansas worked for two hours with shoulder pads and shorts, but got a reprieve at the end of the day when head coach Houston Nutt decided to skip what was thought to be a planned conditioning run.

The Hogs were lined up for gassers when Nutt called for "everyone up," the signal that stretching was all that was left on the day. The team cheered and sprinted to their positions to stretch.

"They had a real good mental day," Nutt said. "They ran around and did better today than they did yesterday. We want to try to keep them coming and keep getting better like they did today."

Nutt said it was getting closer to game time and that was the reason to let up on the gassers on Thursday.

"The legs have kinda hit the wall," he said. "We wanted to take it off of their legs today. We will still run 'em twice more before we play, but we want our legs to start getting back under them."

The Hogs will conduct a closed workout Friday night under the lights of Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

"It's a rehearsal," Nutt said. "We were going to do that Saturday, but it's supposed to rain then. So we'll do the rehearsal Friday night and then come back with a 10 a.m. workout Saturday morning. That workout in the morning will be a padded practice."

Cedric Logan, Reggie Banks and Robert Felton all moved around better on Thursday after struggling with minor injuries earlier in the week. Logan fielded punts with DeCori Birmingham, Carlos Ousley and Matt Jones. Birmingham will get the nod as the return man. If Logan is healthy, he might be the second player there.

"We worked hard on our punt teams today," Nutt said. "We are hitting a lot of things and that was a big focus today."

Nutt said he visited with his team before the Thursday workout to talk "hard" to them about giving great effort on all plays.

"You want meaningful reps," he said. "That's what I was talking to them about. It's like a first grader learning to write who has to write his name on the blackboard 100 times. You want every letter to be the same. You don't want to make the same mistake twice. You want to do them all right and as hard as you can. That's what we talked about."

Defensive end Jeb Huckeba, one of the team leaders, said the Hogs have gotten better this week despite hotter conditions each day.

"The older players have stayed on the younger ones to fight through it this week," Huckeba said. "It's a situation where you really ended two-a-days and what you normally think is your fall camp last week. School has started, yet we don't have a game this week. So you kinda say, 'Oh, we don't play until next week, but we are done with camp.' You can't think that way.

"One thing I predict is that next week will be far different than this week. I think you'll see a different level of intensity next week. This is always the hard week. You got school this week that is a focus. Next week, you'll be getting pumped up to play a game."

The Hogs are trying to find the right combinations in the defensive line. Elliott Harris, the starter at bandit end last year, has been moved to the backup slot behind Huckeba at rush end. That leaves Marcus Harrison, a true freshman, to fight it out with Reggie Banks for the first spot at bandit end. So far, Harrison, who played last year at Hargrave Military Academy, as the first teamer at bandit end.

Houston Nutt declined to talk about any standing on the depth chart, although he did say that he would release one on Monday afternoon.

"There are some battles that are about settled, but I'd like to get two more days of practices in before we announce them," he said. "You announce that someone is third or fourth right now and they shut down for those workouts. We want to see them going hard for two more days."

Nutt declined to settle the debate at linebacker where the Hogs have rotated two and three players with the first team at mike, stinger and wolf.

"You can probably get it pretty close, though," he said. "I'd say you will see Clarke Moore out there pretty quickly in the middle, but we've got others who can help there."

Jeb Huckeba closes in on a running back.

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