Building Off Big Plays

FAYETTEVILLE -- Georgia's two biggest plays during Saturday night's 20-14 win are the two Arkansas is trying to build off of the most.

On the opening snap, true freshman cornerback Michael Grant -- making his first start -- was beat by Bulldogs receiver Fred Gibson on a post, out route for a 33-yard gain.

But Hogs free safety Vickiel Vaughn stripped the ball at the end of the play and it was recovered by Arkansas cornerback Darius Vinnett.

The other big play came early in the second quarter when Gibson beat Grant again, this time on an out, post route for a 79-yard reception, Gibson's longest in his four-year career.

Grant, a sprinter in high school, saved a touchdown by chasing down Gibson at the Arkansas 7 and the Razorbacks' defense was able to keep the Bulldogs out of the end zone on four plays to force a turnover on downs.

"Those are positives we can grow on," said Arkansas defensive backs coach Bobby Allen. "On the two really big plays we gave up Saturday night, we overcame it with a turnover and a stop because we came back to fight on the next play.

"You never want to give up a big play, but if one does occur, let's just fight the next play and see what happens."

In losses against Florida, Auburn and Georgia this month, the Hogs have allowed a total of 1,475 yards (491.7 yards per game) as opponents' quarterbacks have passed for career highs in yardage in each game.

Some point a finger at the Hogs' secondary, but defensive coordinator Dave Wommack said that's not necessarily the problem.

"I've always said that when you're giving up big plays that it's the responsibility of everybody," Wommack said. "Everybody looks out and sees the secondary because that's where the ball is thrown or there's a running play and the ball gets into the secondary. But that's everybody's responsibility. It might have started up front with a gap or not getting enough pressure.

"You take a step or two out of place and it can create a big play in this league."

To remedy the big plays, the Razorbacks aren't changing personnel or even the 4-2-5 scheme during the off week. They're just trying to learn and improve what they do.

"We've got to get better and I know we've been saying that all year, but we're going to keep saying it the rest of the year," Wommack said. "It's just a group that needs more reps and the biggest thing we've got to do, when we see something full speed, we've got to make sure and eliminate that mistake when we come back the next week."

Seeing enough plays at full speed is one of the problems the Razorbacks worked on during Tuesday's practice as Allen spent extra time with his defensive backs running routes against each other.

"You can't simulate the experience or the type of speed that we're seeing in games in practice, even when we go up against our own receivers," Allen said. "With younger players, that's part of the growing process and we've got to do a better job fundamentally by staying on top of routes and not giving up that big play."

The Hogs' next test comes on Nov. 6 at South Carolina, a team that's produced its fair share of big plays. Receiver Troy Williamson leads the team with 25 yards per reception.

"It's more about us than it is about South Carolina," Wommack said. "I've got a lot of respect for them and any Lou Holtz-coached team, you know they're going to be well prepared and ready to play.

"But we've got to take care of us and that's been the thing all year."

Opponent Praise

Georgia coach Mark Richt was impressed with the play of Arkansas defensive end Jeb Huckeba, who had 12 tackles, including 10 solo stops, four for losses, three sacks, two quarterback hurries and a forced fumble against the Bulldogs.

"Huckeba beat the tar out of every guy who went up against him," Richt told the Macon (Ga.) Telegraph. "That guy had a career day against us. He was very impressive to me. After watching the film , I don't know if anybody blocked him all night.

"He just physically whipped us. If I had to play that game again, I would give those guys some help (blocking Huckeba)."

Huckeba is tied for third in the Southeastern Conference with five sacks. He's fourth with eight tackles for losses and tied for second among defensive linemen with 36 tackles.

Injury Report
Arkansas had several players not practice Tuesday with injuries including starters Matt Jones (hamstring, groin), Jared Hicks (shoulder) and Sam Olajubutu (knee).

Receiver Steven Harris and linebacker Marcus Whitmore did not attend practice. Harris had his wisdom teeth pulled while Whitmore stayed home with the flu.

Starting left tackle Tony Ugoh pulled himself out early in practice due to fatigue, but was able to return. He missed three practices last week while passing a kidney stone.

Others injured players who did practice were Marcus Monk (bruised calf) and Peyton Hillis (lower back).

Junior tailback Dedrick Poole dressed out for the first time since injuring his hamstring two weeks ago and made it through most of the individual drills.

Arkansas practiced for just over an hour Tuesday and likely will limit practice time again today as the team continues to heal up during the off week.

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