Houston Doubtful For Saturday

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas' already young secondary will be a little younger Saturday against Alabama.

Redshirt freshman cornerback Chris Houston is still slowed by a right ankle injury and did not practice for the second day this week.

"Chris tried to move around today," said Arkansas coach Houston Nutt. "He's still very sore. He definitely won't start or play as much as we want as of right now. Hopefully by Saturday we'll have him as a (special teams) gunner or something like that."

Houston has 8 tackles this year and is considered a co-starter at boundary corner along with junior college transfer Darius Vinnett, who has collected 11 stops.

After Coe, Houston and Vinnett are the only true freshman on the depth chart and Nutt said Matterral Richardson and Michael Grant have been getting most of the action with the first and second team this week.

Free safety Vickiel Vaughn and strong safety Lerinezo Robinson have both suffered ankle injuries this year and junior college transfer Randy Kelly has also gotten a lot of work this week along with true freshman Dallas Washington at the safety positions.

"It's going to take a group effort," Nutt said.

Robinson leads Arkansas with 22 tackles, 2 interceptions and a fumble recovery.

Vaughn is fifth on the team with 14 stops.

On the bright side, it looks like starting tight end Jared Hicks and starting defensive tackle Jeremy Harrell should start this week after resting respective shoulder and ankle injuries against Louisiana-Monroe last Saturday.

Middle linebackers Clarke Moore and Sam Olajubutu have been platooning at middle linebacker and Moore has started each of the first three games. Nutt said the kickoff could determine who starts Saturday.

If Olajubutu has to cover the opening kickoff, Moore will start, Nutt said.

Moore has 14 tackles this year, Olajubutu has 13.

Arkansas defensive coordinator Dave Wommack is a little bit glad Louisiana-Monroe enjoyed more than its share of success against the Razorbacks last Saturday with 278 passing yards in the first half, including a 77-yard touchdown.

Two years ago, Arkansas began the season with easy wins against Boise State and South Florida by a combined score of 83-17 before opening its Southeastern Conference slate at home against Alabama.

The Arkansas defense gave up an 80-yard touchdown run by Shaud Williams on the first play of the game, allowed quarterback Brodie Croyle a career-day passing in his debut start and lost 30-12.

There's no danger of Arkansas patting itself on the back after its defensive breakdowns in the first half against the Indians.

"We got to liking ourselves a little too much (in 2002)," Wommack said. "We definitely have their attention this week."

Croyle was filling in for the injured Tyler Watts in 2002. This Saturday, redshirt sophomore Marc Guillon will be replacing Croyle, whose season ended with an ACL injury against Western Carolina.

Wommack doesn't expect much to change for the Tide, though.

"I don't think they're going to change their offense for that quarterback because their offense is like Texas," he said. "They're going to pound it and pound it and throw the play action off of it."

Alabama has taken over a position the Razorbacks enjoyed the past two seasons. The Crimson Tide boasts the Southeastern Conference's top ground attack, averaging 241 yards a game.

Alabama is led by senior Ray Hudson (295 yards, 2 touchdowns) and sophomore Kenneth Darby (260 yards, 3 touchdowns). But the backfield also includes fullback Tim Castille (86 yards, 2 touchdowns) and freshman Aaron Johns, who led the Tide with 11 carries and 86 yards last week.

Hudson suffered a concussion against Western Carolina and was in a noncontact jersey Tuesday at practice. He is expected to play this Saturday, though.

Arkansas defensive coordinator Dave Wommack said Hudson resembles Hogs tailback DeCori Birmingham because of his speed, while Darby is more of a physical runner. Castille is a bruiser, who lines up at tailback in power formations with 255-pounder Le'Ron McClain blocking for him.

"I thought the top running backs were going to be Auburn, but Alabama, those two guys (Hudson and Darby) are pretty good," Wommack said. "I don't think there's any dropoff between those two."

Nutt said the Crimson Tide will lean on their running backs to support Guillon.

"Not knowing exactly what they're going to do at quarterback, we know they're going to hand it to the tailback," Nutt said. "So you have to stop the run first."

Two former prep stars from Plano, Texas, will be battling for their respective defenses this weekend.

Arkansas' Vaughn went to Plano West High and Crimson Tide strong safety Charlie Peprah went to Plano East.

Vaughn graduated in 2002, Peprah in 2001, and the two only played each other once because West High had just been built.

The main rivalry remains East against Plano Senior High, but Peprah said all the city battles were pretty intense.

"I know of him," Peprah said of Vaughn. "He was a good player. I remember seeing him play and he impressed me. I remember talking to him on the sideline my redshirt freshman year down there (at Arkansas).

"He's a good player and I respect him a lot."

Former Arkansas tailback Gary Anderson will be the honorary captain this Saturday against Alabama.

Anderson lettered from 1979-82, rushing for 1,999 yards and earning another 3,074 yards receiving and on kick returns.

Anderson was a two-time bowl MVP, earning honors for his 156-yard effort against Tulane in the 1980 Hall of Fame Bowl and his 161-yard, 2-touchdown day against Florida in the 1982 Blue Bonnett Bowl.

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