Make no mistake, University of Arkansas head football coach Houston Nutt is very happy his team does not have an opponent this weekend.
After a tough 45-30 road loss to Florida and knowledge that three players - including star freshman fullback Peyton Hillis - are out of action for a while, Nutt likes the timimg for his Razorbacks (3-2, 1-1).
"I am real glad for the break," Nutt said. "We have been so lucky for two years with not getting linemen hurt, holding your breath when you do get physical. Then this week we get a bunch of people hurt. I am glad it kind of stopped when it did because we are too thin."
Arkansas worked just over an hour Thursday while going through the last of its four workouts this week.
"We had a good mental day today, a good hour workout and we've got about half of our gameplan in," Nutt said. "Now we'll give them a couple of days and get back going Sunday in full pads at 4."
Redshirt freshmen Matt Gilbow and Nate Garner, two offensive lineman battling to replace Tubbs in the starting lineup, are working some extra time.
"They got up here this morning at 6 o'clock and studied some film,did some board work," Nutt said. "They are giving good effort and that's all we can ask is to really study and step it up."
They will also be around in Fayetteville this weekend.
"They are going to stay and we will come over and go over a few things with them," Nutt said.
Nutt said there has been a real emphasis on the secondary this weekend and its penchant for giving up too many deep balls.
"We are still giving up too many big plays and we have made a real emphasis that each day we come out that we don't want to give up a deep ball," Nutt said. "We have to make them go the long, hard way. That's the total emphasis of everything we have been doing in the secondary. They can't go the short way, they have to go the long way.
"There are times when we are playing with all 11 and we make them go the long,hard way and we get some three and outs," Nutt added. "Offensively you then take care of the ball and that's the recipe you want.
"In our two losses, we have gotten zero takeaways and we have turned it over seven times," Nutt continue. "You can't do that and win. What's unbelieveable about that is we had a chance to win both games."
Nutt mentioned Michael Grant, Vickiel Vaughn and Matterral Richardson and Lerinzo Robinson for their work in practice this week.
"Really all of them have responded," Nutt said. "When you feel like my job is in jeapordy, then you respond. That's competition."
With wideout Cedric Ousley being demoted to second team and then quitting, Nutt praised the way Chris Baker has stepped up this week in practice.
"We have got quality enough receivers right there and Chris Baker has had a really good week," Nutt said. "We put it on him really hard.
"Cedric Washington has also been making some unbelievable catches for us and now we want him to make the easy catches," Nutt continued. "And add (Marcus) Monk and Steven Harris and that's four quality guys. And David Thompson is coming, too."
Nutt is trying to keep the redshirts on freshman Cedric Logan and sophomore Anthony Brown.
"Both of those guys are capable, but rather than getting them 10 to 12 plays a game, you would like to just keep them on hold."
Michael Robinson, who became ill in the preseason, is back practicing on a limited basis.
Arkansas will return to action next Saturday when it travels to face Auburn in a 2:30 p.m. game that will be nationally televised by CBS.
UA Thursday Grid Report, 10-7
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