Arkansas worked outside in a steady drizzle Sunday afternoon after taking two days off. It appeared the Hogs are in good health, although cornrback Michael Coe did "tweak" his ankle in Sunday's workout. The team finished with a heavy set of conditioning runs at the end of a 90-minute, physical workout.
Kyle Roper, a little "woozy" after taking a blow to the head last week, went through most of the workout and appears to be in good shape for the week's work to prepare for the trip to Auburn.
Game time for the Auburn game Saturday is 2:30 p.m. The game will be televised by CBS-TV.
"It was good to get back," Houston Nutt said. "We came back with a good focus. We had a good practice. Our team moved around real good. We looked fresh. That's good. We need to be fresh headed into this stretch of games."
Nutt said cornerback Chris Houston missed the workout because of missed plane connections on his travel from his Austin, as did Desmond Williams.
Tight end Jared Hicks, bothred by a sore shoulder, completed the workout, but sat out most of the contact in the early part of the drills.
"We had him for the team portion," Nutt said. "We are trying to rest him during the other parts and get him healthy."
Nutt said he has been impressed with what he's seen of Auburn this year. He had not seen the Louisiana Tech film as of 6 p.m. Sunday, but had watched the first five Tiger games.
"They have a great football team," Nutt said. 'I don't see a single weakness with their team. They are very, very good. They may have lost some players from last year, but the replacements are very good."
The Hogs will be playing without offensive right tackle Zac Tubbs for the first time after the junior starter broke his leg and tore ankle ligaments Tuesday of last week. Tubbs will undergo corrective surgery Monday. Defensive end Derek Moore, who sustained a similar injury, will undergo surgery Tuesday.
Offensive line coach Mike Markuson said both Matt Gilbow and Nate Garner, the backup tackles, had great practices Sunday and appear to be gaining momentum in their preparation to take Tubbs' spot in the lineup. Gilbow and Garner did not go home this weekend and took extra reps with Markuson and spent time in the film room.
Gilbow continues to take most of the snaps with the first team at right tackle, after moving over from the left side where he'd been Tony Ugoh's backup at left tackle.
"They are both doing great things and really practicing well," Markuson said. "We are trying our best to get three tackles ready and all three may play. We are cross training Nate at right and left tackle. So we should have Tony, Nate and Matt ready for this week. We haven't made a decision on the starter at right tackle, but we could play all of them this week."
Auburn plays a 4-3 scheme on defense and will likely play a defensive end across from the Hogs' young right tackles, unless the Hogs put their tight end on the right side.
"If we go with a tight end there, then it's likely they'll cover the tight end with the end and our tackle will see a linebacker over them," Markuson said. "What I will say is that Auburn is very, very athletic on defense and very phsyical. They have physical corners and safeties that come up and make plays like a linebacker. I'm impressed with what they can do on defense as far as athletic ability."
Arkansas defensive coordinator Dave Wommack said the Hogs have had good practices since the loss to Florida. He said he's challenged his group to grow up this week during the open date.
"These guys may be freshmen and sophomores that we are playing in some of these spots, but it's time that they quit thinking like freshmen and sophomores," he said. "It's time they start making plays.
"We've got to have great focus this week. Auburn is very good, plus they do some things on offense as far as changing formations and personnel that cause confusion.
"We've worked hard this last week and gotten better, but we are still not there. We'll play well, and I'm talking about all of our guys in the secondary, for eight or nine plays, and then give up a big play. We've got to eliminate those big plays."
But Wommack wants more than a stop to big plays by his defense. He wants to produce turnovers and field position breaks.
"The common component in both of our losses was that we did not force any turnovers," Wommack said. "To get a turnover, you have to give great physical effort. That's what I've asked them to do this week. We've always gotten turnovers in the past. To me, it's a matter of not cutting loose. We are 1/2 step off. That's easy to say, turn it up and get there. But what gets you there is focusing on your keys, training your eyes and then reacting to what you see.
"I didn't think we played through adversity very well at Florida. We told them during the second quarter what was happening, but we really didn't get them to change their focus until we could tell 'em again at halftime. But we didn't tell them anything different at halftime than we did during the second quarter. That's what I'm talking about by reacting to adversity. It shouldn't take a second talk at halftime to get it going."
Before the season, Wommack said the inexperienced nature of the defensive secondary might cause him to cut back on certain defensive schemes. He said that's come to fuitiion.
"We've run about one/third of our packages this year," he said. "We've been in much, much, much more 1/2 coverages than before. We are still playing some man, and some free, but the amount of 1/2 coverages is much more.
"You'd like to get to where you could be in more man, but I don't see that we are ready for that now. What's hurt us some is that we have practiced for offenses in several games that we didn't see when we got to the game.
"We've made adjustments to help that both against Texas and Louisiana-Monroe. We didn't make any scheme adjustments at halftime of the Florida. We just played them right and picked up the pace in the second half against Florida. We just didn't have the breakdowns in the third and fourth quarter like we did in the second. We had three solid quarters and one really bad quarter where we had breakdowns and missed assignments. What I want to see this week is 60 minutes of concentration and a game where we produce some turnovers."
The Hogs will take Monday off, per their usual routine.
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