Second Quarter Problems

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said two weeks ago he was impressed with the way the Razorbacks were playing in the first and fourth quarters.

To the seventh-year coach, it was a positive sign that his young team has done an admirable job of starting and finishing games well.

But Nutt and defensive coordinator Dave Wommack would be even happier if they could figure out Arkansas' problems in the second quarter.

The Razorbacks have surrendered 110 points in five games this season, but 62 of those have come in the second quarter. The worst outing was at then-No. 16 Florida last Saturday, when Arkansas surrendered 28 points and 251 yards in its 45-30 loss.

"I've asked myself that about four or five times," Wommack said. "I wish I knew the answer. You'd think if that was the case it would be the first quarter. Part of it early on was feeling too comfortable. 'Hey, this isn't as tough as I think it is.'"

Most of the damage has come in Arkansas' past three games.

Louisiana-Monroe's offense came alive on Sept. 18, piling up 215 yards and 17 points in the second quarter. Alabama had plenty of success as well, scoring its only 10 points on 174 yards. Then there were the Gators, who lit up the scoreboard after going three-and-out on their first three series.

In all, the Hogs surrendered 55 points (18.3 a game) and 640 yards (213.3 a game) in the three second quarters. They've surrendered a total of 75 points and 1,164 yards in those games combined

"Guys are aware of it," said defensive end Jeb Huckeba. "I don't really know what it is, but our second-quarter play hasn't been what it needs to be. We're going to try to get that corrected because if you don't play all four quarters, most of the time you're not going to win."

Wommack said it's hard to put a finger on the problem, but believes maturity and mental toughness could come into play. He said offenses also are adjusting to the Hogs' schemes and finding things that work in the second quarter.

But he's hoping extra practice time this week will help correct the problems.

"You stress it to them," Wommack said. "'Look at this. Look what we're doing.' We just gave up the first points we've allowed in the fourth quarter all year. We've given up 12 points all year in the second half going into that (Florida) game.

"You have to emphasize. What you emphasize is what you get."

Nutt said the Arkansas secondary had one goal in practice this week: Don't give up big plays. For the most part, he said the defensive backs did a solid job.

"We made a real emphasis that each day we come out, we don't want to give up a deep ball," Nutt said. "We've got one goal, keep everything in front of you. Make them go the long, hard way.

"That's really the total emphasis of everything we've been doing in the secondary."

Position coach Bobby Allen said his unit had a solid week of practice one week after being torched by the long ball against the Gators. Junior college transfer Randy Kelly worked in Vickiel Vaughn's place with the first-team at free safety all week and Allen said the sophomore will have an opportunity to play when the Hogs face No. 6 Auburn next Saturday.

But Allen said he'll need every member of the secondary against the Tigers.

"I look for every guy that I take on a trip," Allen said. "In every situation, everybody's going to have to contribute in some sort. We've got to have short-term memory back there. We have put it in the past and we're just going to try to work hard this week on just trying to play every play like it's our last play."

Redshirt freshman Matt Gilbow continued to work with the first-team at right tackle Thursday in place of injured starter Zac Tubbs, who will miss the rest of the season after breaking his left ankle during Tuesday's practice.

Nutt said Gilbow and redshirt freshman Nate Garner will stay in Fayetteville during the off weekend to prepare for the Tigers while most teammates go home. Nutt won't name a starter until next week, but said "we've got a pretty good idea" who will line up alongside right guard Gene Perry next Saturday.

"They've really gone the extra mile," Nutt said about the tackles. "They got up here (Thursday) morning at 6 and studied some film and some board work on the chalkboard. They're giving good effort. That's all we can ask to really study and really step it up."

Nutt said this weekend is good timing for a break, especially after the Hogs sustained two key injuries and receiver Carlos Ousley left the team. Nutt said it "felt like this was our time this week to get a bunch of people hurt. I'm glad it stopped when it did because we're too thin." ... Arkansas will take today and Saturday off before returning to the practice field Sunday at 4 p.m. for a full pads workout.

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