Wednesday Grid Report, 10/27

Arkansas discovered one of the stars from Saturday's game sustained a broken hand in practice Tuesday. Will he be able to play against South Carolina?

There was some bad news at the practice field Wednesday with word that defensive end Jeb Huckeba sustained a broken bone in his right hand at the end of Tuesday's workout.

"If we played tonight, he'd play," Houston Nutt said. "We'll get him padded up and he will be able to go next week against South Carolina."

Huckeba said he hit a helmet while rushing the quarterback on an option play in Tuesday's practice. He said he broke the bone deep in the hand that extends from his middle finger. He had the hand in a splint and was working out Wednesday.

"I know I'll play," he said of next week's game at South Carolina. "I have to play. But it's wrong to say it won't bother me. You have to use your hands to play in the defensive line. It's very important. I'll just have to see what I can do with it, though."

The Hogs went inside Wednesday because of rain in the Fayetteville area. They worked about 90 minutes in a workout that was similar to Tuesday's light practice. The team concentrated on fundamentals and also looked at alignments for South Carolina.

The Hogs will lift weights, study film and continue their game plan preparation for the Gamecocks on Thursday, but will likely stay off the field. Nutt said the Hogs want to regain their legs and get some of the walking wounded healthy this week since the Hogs have an open date on Saturday before travling to South Carolina on Nov. 6.

Defensive coordinator Dave Wommack liked what he saw of his troops the last two days, and praised the work of the front seven against Georgia.

"Our front and our linebackers played their butts off against Georgia," Wommack said. "We dominated that part of the game. We didn't make plays in the secondary, though. I was very, very pleased with the way our front played. That was the best we've played in the defensive line and at linebacker. All of those guys played very well.

"But we had our eyes in the wrong places in the secondary. We lost our men over and over. That is going to cause problems everytime in the secondary. It wasn't the same man everytime. Some would do it right for a number of plays, but you can't lose your man. You can't take your eyes off of your man at this level. It causes big plays.

"I think we are getting better, though. We've simplified things. We're using about one/third of our offense from the last couple of years. One head coach told me in pre-game that it doesn't take as long to get ready for our defense this year. I understand that.

"At the start of the year, we couldn't write our defense on the board in meetings. Now we can. But, we still don't get it right when we try to play it in practice or in a game. I think that caused us to slow down the way we were playing earlier this year, but we are playing faster now. That comes from knowing your assignments.

"I wish like heck we could play what we have been playing, but I know we can't right now. When? Maybe at some point this year. I do know that we tried to do it against Louisiana-Monroe in that first half and we had guys running everywhere. We haven't tried to do that since.

"We didn't have effort in that second quarter at Florida. But we've had effort every step of the way since. Auburn? They are just good. But we played hard and were in position to make some plays in the secondary more that week than any other. We were just very close to making those plays, but we didn't. That's all that matters.

"Effort is what I'm concerned about the most the rest of the way. I want to see guys busting their butts. I didn't see that in the second quarter at Florida. I think it was the heat. I think our guys just couldn't handle it. I remember when we were at Southern Miss. I saw that from the other team all the time. No one believes what it will do to you. What happened in the second half at Florida? More than anything, we got some nice cloud cover. It wasn't nearly as hot in the second half as it was in the first half.

"That's not excuses. That's reality. But I still can't accept lack of effort. We've had great effort the last two games, we just haven't gotten it done. We haven't had our eyes in the right places and have not carried out our assignments. It's not just in games, it's in practice, too. I see eyes in the wrong place every day in practice. We correct them and they'll get it right for seven, eight, nine plays, then they will be looking in the wrong place and lose their man. We just have to keep getting repetitions in practice so they get more comfortable.

"Why is that? Experience. In the secondary, it's the most important thing. It's like the offensive line. You have to practice it, practice it and practice it some more. I know that much to be true.

"I believe we will get it done. The most important game of the year comes next week. Our guys know it, too. We are preparing for a big, big game. I can tell that some of our guys are stepping up. Vickiel Vaughn has stepped up and played to his ability the last two weeks."

Wommack said the Hogs have played a vanilla base with a heavy, heavy diet of double safety looks. That doesn't mean that the safeties have gotten it right all the time. There have been some alignment busts and some missed steps, too.

"Our intent is to cover the middle of the field with our safeties," he said. "It's been the way we've tried to play every game. Have we gotten it right? No. We've tried to put them in a vanilla base to protect the middle.

"One of the problems with that is that it's very easy to prepare for if you are a quarterback. We understand that, but with that many new guys back there, we've had little choice."

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