Huckeba Breaks Bone In Hand

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas coach Houston Nutt might seriously consider sending his team home without practices the next time the Hogs have an off week.

The Razorbacks didn't have a good experience during the first off-week, when starting right tackle Zac Tubbs and reserve defensive end Derek Moore sustained season-ending ankle injuries. Arkansas also lost its second-leading receiver when junior Carlos Ousley left the team after being demoted.

The Hogs stumbled into more bad luck Tuesday when defensive end Jeb Huckeba broke a bone in his right hand and was held out of Wednesday's workout. Nutt said the good news is Huckeba's injury isn't as serious and the senior is "definitely going to play" next Saturday at South Carolina.

"The biggest thing we're trying to get done (this week) is keep people well," Nutt said. "But I tell you what, the open date is something."

Huckeba wore a brace to protect his hand and took part in non-contact work Wednesday. The injury occurred when Huckeba reached out to defend an option pitch in team drills and got it jammed in a running back's shoulder pads.

Huckeba said the only other bone he's ever broken was a pinkie finger, which healed quickly. So he's hoping for another fast recovery with the broken bone in his hand.

"I think it'll be fine," Huckeba said. "You normally don't ever want to get hurt. But if it had to happen maybe this was a good week to do it so I could get an extra week."

Huckeba turned in the best performance of his career during last Saturday's 20-14 loss to Georgia, collecting a team-high 12 tackles, 4 for losses and 3 sacks. He also forced a fumble that defensive end Marcus Harrison scooped up and returned for an 18-yard touchdown late in the second quarter.

Huckeba leads Arkansas with 9 tackles for losses and 5 sacks this season.

The biggest problem for Huckeba could be gripping anything with a broken bone, something that could come into play when he grabs ball carriers. Huckeba doesn't know what he'll have to wear on his hand to protect the injury next Saturday, but hopes it "won't be a big deal."

"I don't know what I'm going to do," Huckeba said. "I'm sure (trainers) Eric (Linson) and Dean (Weber) will rig something up so that it'll feel better. It's just kind of my grip right now. It just happened yesterday. I can't tell much about it right now."

Johnson Bounces Back
Backup quarterback Robert Johnson was handed the difficult task of replacing starter Matt Jones on Arkansas' last two possessions last Saturday. Johnson was sacked twice, threw two incompletions, scrambled for 11 yards and couldn't lead the Razorbacks to a game-winning score.

Nutt said Johnson took the loss hard. But he has shaken the disappointment.

"I'm glad Robert is getting all the snaps (this week)," Nutt said. "I think he has bounced back and been upbeat and knows there's areas he can improve on. It's been a learning experience. Nobody likes to lose.

"He felt like he let the team down, but I don't want him to feel that way."

Johnson handled first-team repetitions in practice while Jones rested his sore groin and hamstring. Position coach Roy Wittke said, like any quarterback, Johnson wanted to lead the Hogs to a big score. But Wittke said the disappointment should help Johnson mature as a quarterback.

"It's a development, it's a process," Wittke said. "It's something that young guys have to go through. Sometimes you've got to fail and have some hurt before you can have success. That's the way it is in the ballgame.

"You throw a pick, you can't mope or pout around for a quarter and a half because you might miss an opportunity. Same way here. You have a bad ballgame, come back the next day and he did. He's done real well this week as well."

Extra Points
Receiver Steven Harris (knee), cornerback Michael Coe (bruised thigh), tight end Jared Hicks (shoulder), linebacker Sam Olajubutu (knee) and running back Dedrick Poole (hamstring) didn't practice. Nutt hopes they'll return for Sunday's workout. ... Walk-on Payne Hall left the team this week, shortly after being moved from tight end to linebacker. Hall started the first three games this season. ... Nutt hadn't decided Wednesday if the Hogs will practice today. Arkansas, which will take Friday and Saturday off, will lift weights and hold meetings. If the Hogs practice, it'll be a light workout.

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