It was a day of major news for Arkansas at football practice Tuesday.
Starting right tackle Zac Tubbs went down with what looked like a serious ankle injury during middle drills, but the real surprise came before the workout when Carlos Ousley, the starter for the first five games, quit the squad.
Ousley was demoted to second team at flanker ahead of the practice with Marcus Monk, a true freshman, moving to the first team. Apparently, that was the reason for Ousley's decision to ask for a release and seek a transfer. Ousley transferred to Arkansas from Wake Forrest after a dispute over his dreadlock hair style.
Tubbs went down under a big pileup in middle drills in the central portion of an intense, physical workout which included a scrimmage at the end of the day. The seriousness of the injury was not determined, but head coach Houston Nutt admitted he feared the worse. Nutt said, "I don't know if it was an ankle or a knee, but it looked bad." Tubbs was lifted by teammates onto a cart and he was driven to the training room. Trainers later confirmed it was a serious ankle sprain.
The Hogs worked hard to correct some of the problems from last week's loss at Florida. They spent extensive practice time at the start of drills in fundamental tackling drills. Bobby Allen, secondary coach, put his troops through a physical one-on-one session with special emphasis on tackling by the safeties.
In specialty sesssion, true freshman Jeremy Davis logged all of the snaps as the punter, but without any boomers. Most of his punts were wobbly and in the 34-yard range, much like Skinner's over the first five games.
"Jeremy is going to handle it for a few more days," Nutt said. "We gave Jacob time off to rest his leg. We want him to spend time this week catching snaps from the ball machine and from the snapper and work on his drop, but we aren't going to let him kick. His leg is sore."
Soreness kept Matt Jones on the sideline, too. The senior quarterback was at the workout and logged some time in the early segment just taking center snaps, but that was it for the day. He did not throw any passes.
"He's got a lot of bruises and is very sore," Nutt said of his quarterback. "We let Robert Johnson and Alex Mortensen get some extra snaps today and that was good. Matt is beat up right now and can use a day to rest his body."
Nutt said he was very disappointed in Ousley's decision. He said it was a case of the "microwave society" where everyone wants something now.
"We made a decision on the depth chart and he reacted to that, I guess," Nutt said. "He said he wanted the release. That's fine. We wish him well. We'll move on without him and wish him well."
Ousley had started every game and handled punt return duties of late. Nutt wasn't clear who would take over that job, but indicated Dedrick Poole and DeCori Birmingham were among the candidates.
The Hogs also lost a defensive end, redshirt freshman Derek Moore, to injury early in practice. He also left the field in a cart after sustaining a leg injury.
The Hogs went hard in middle drills even after Tubbs injury.
"You take a chance when you put the ball down and hit like that, but we made the decision that we needed it after last week," Nutt said. "We had a good practice and it looked like we got better.
"We got Chris Houston back out here (at cornerback) and some young guys looked good. Our defense worked hard on not giving up the big plays. I thought we had a good day."
Dallas Washington worked a good portion of the practice with the first team at free safety. It appeared Randy Kelly and Lerinezo Robinson split time with the first team at strong safety. Houston, Darius Vinnett, Michael Coe and Michael Grant, Matterral Richardson all logged time with the first group at cornerback.
Nutt had high praise for many of the freshmen after watching them scrimmage at the end of the day.
"Alex Mortensen did a nice job," Nutt said. "You could see good things from guys like Zach Snider, Fred Bledsoe, Marc Winston, Ernest Mitchell, Michael Tate, De'Nerian Wrighter, Dallas Washington, Michael Grant, Matterral Richardson and Korey Sutton. We just have to keep those guys coming."
Tuesday Grid Report, 10/5
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