FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas coach Houston Nutt knew he needed a handful of true freshmen to make impacts if the Hogs hoped to earn a seventh consecutive bowl bid this season.
But Nutt didn't think he'd see two freshmen get in the end zone this much.
Arkansas has scored 18 touchdowns in its first three games and seven are from the combination of true freshmen tailback Peyton Hillis and receiver Marcus Monk. Hillis leads the Hogs with four scores and Monk is close behind with three, including 21- and 25-yard touchdown catches during last Saturday's 49-20 win against Louisiana-Monroe.
"You don't ever know how a true freshman will respond when they get to the collegiate level," Nutt said. "There's one thing on Friday night when you think, ‘Yes, he's going to be a good football player.' And we still have a lot of freshmen that are not playing that are going to be excellent football players. But for whatever reason, physically or mentally they're not quite ready.
"These guys are extraordinary. They're physically and mentally tough. They've got a chance to really contribute to our football team."
Hillis is fifth on the team in rushing with 43 yards on 13 carries and has 6 catches for 40 yards. He has solidified a role as Arkansas' goal-line back, something that has helped him get into the end zone more than any other Hog.
The 6-foot-6, 205-pound Monk has 6 catches for 126 yards and gives Arkansas an intriguing threat because of his height advantage. Monk went over a New Mexico State defensive back for a 38-yard score in the opener and his name has been called a few times on passing plays near the goal line.
"Getting the opportunity (to score) is great," Monk said. "(Nutt) gives me and Peyton opportunities to go in there and prove what we can do. When they call our names, we're just eager to get in and enthused and ready to go."
Hillis and Monk also are among the Southeastern Conference scoring leaders after three games. Hillis is tied with South Carolina's Troy Williamson and LSU's Dwayne Bowe for touchdowns, while Monk is in a seven-way tie for fourth.
They have a chance to challenge Arkansas' freshman scoring record, which is held by former tailback James Rouse (9 TDs in 1985). Tailback De'Arrius Howard came close to the mark in 2002, when he scored seven times as a redshirt freshman.
"That would be great," Monk said about the scoring record. "But just as long as we're winning and contributing to the team. It doesn't have to be scoring. If I can get key first downs or anything, as long as it's helping the team."
CBS, Part II
Arkansas' Oct. 2 game at Florida was selected for a national broadcast by CBS Sports on Monday and is slated for an 11 a.m. kickoff.
The Arkansas-Florida game in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Gainesville is part of a CBS doubleheader that includes LSU-Georgia at 2:30 p.m. In addition, two more SEC games, Auburn at Tennessee and South Carolina at Alabama, will be televised the same weekend. Auburn-Tennessee will be televised by ESPN at 6:45 p.m. and South Carolina-Alabama will be shown on ESPN2 at 5 p.m.
The Florida game will be Arkansas' third televised game this season.
Catching some sleep
Arkansas quarterback Matt Jones has earned a reputation as a cool customer that has "ice water in his veins." But someone apparently needed to check the senior's pulse before last season's game at Alabama.
Jones was asked about his memories of Arkansas' 34-31, two-overtime win and the thunderstorm that delayed the start of the game by an hour. The only thing Jones could remember was that he was "knocked out" in the locker room.
"I remember sleeping for about 45 minutes after (the delay), going back in there and taking a nap," Jones said.
Jones scored on a 39-yard run in the first quarter, struggled in the next two quarters, but helped the Hogs erase a 31-10 deficit. He tossed a game-tying, 3-yard touchdown pass to receiver Richard Smith with 27 seconds left in regulation.
Alabama quarterback Brodie Croyle had surgery Monday to repair the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and won't play Saturday.
But starting tailback Ray Hudson believes he'll be cleared by team doctors after sustaining a slight concussion against Western Carolina.
"I was dizzy, but I get hit all the time," Hudson told the Birmingham News. "I get dizzy, I black out sometimes. They gave me three colors to remember, I couldn't remember the first one."
Hudson has 295 yards on 39 carries and is second in the SEC in rushing, averaging 98.3 yards a game. The senior has teamed with sophomores Kenneth Darby and Tim Castille to help the Crimson Tide lead the SEC in rushing (241 yards a game).
"I haven't been cleared, but I'm pretty much good (to go)," Hudson told the Birmingham News. "I was feeling a little weird (Sunday). No headaches, no nothing, my balance was a little off."
Arkansas and Kentucky are the only SEC teams that haven't played a conference game in 2004. But both kick off SEC seasons Saturday and the Wildcats play at Florida. ... After three games, the Razorbacks are the only SEC team that hasn't surrendered any points in the fourth quarter.
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