Arkansas appeared to be gearing up for a physical battle when it hit the practice field in full pads Tuesday. Coaches and players alike expect to see Alabama's best effort when they meet the Tide at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in the SEC opener for the Hogs.
"They are physical and very good," said Mike Markuson, the Arkansas offensive line coach. "They have speed on the edge and have active linebackers. They are very tough and physical. We know what to expect with them."
Markuson wanted extra contact with Alabama coming to town, and got it with some extra periods with the defensive line to start the practice.
"We worked on our double team sessions against our top defensive linemen," Markuson said. "We need that this week. We needed to set the tone today in practice for what we will see this week. It was a hard workout."
It was tough enough that it left offensive guard Stephen Parker on one knee, losing his lunch on the practice field. He later returned to the workout after taking plenty of fluids.
"Our guys played well this past week," Markuson said. "But we will have to lift our play this week. I thought Tony Ugoh really played well. He's coming fast and playing well. He'll have to play well this week because they have some speed out there."
The Hogs have not allowed a quarterback sack through three games, but will be facing more speed than they've seen this season.
"Texas was a good team for us to see early because they have good speed at every position, too," said Houston Nutt. "But Alabama's defense has great speed, too."
On the injury front, the Hogs had all hands on deck except for cornerback Chris Houston. Nutt said trainers still expect Houston to be available this week. Houston is nursing a sore ankle. He has been a regular in the cornerback rotation and a starter in several areas in special teams.
"We think we will have him back this week on special teams and at cornerback," Nutt said. "Jeremy Harrell and Jared Hicks both made it all the way through today's workout and should be fine this weekend."
Danny Nutt, the Hogs' running back coach, said he is pleased with the rotation at tailback and indicated he is comfortable going four players deep against Alabama. He did think that De'Arrius Howard played his finest game against Louisiana-Monroe.
"De'Arrius looks like a different back in practice and in games," Danny Nutt said. "He had a great summer running and in the weight room and you sense a big difference in the way he's playing. I've been on him hard to not take a wrong step this fall. He's been very good. I haven't seen a wrong step. He's hitting the hole better and is our strongest player. He set some school records in the weight room this summer, beating a lot of the linemen lifts."
Howard said it was a matter of "finding my mojo again. I've got it back now and don't ever want to lose it again. It's more than that, but that's what I call it, finding my mojo."
Danny Nutt added, "I've challenged to take what he did against our last opponent and take it to a big game and do it again. It's one thing to do it against a noncoference team and another to do it against Alabama. I want to see another game just like that. He's capable, but now it's a matter of showing us what he can do and being consistent play after play. He's a big back with speed, just what you've got to have at this level."
Jeremy Harrell (left) works against Tony Ugoh (66) and Stephen Parker in drills Tuesday.
Tuesday Grid Report, 9/21
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