Felton Packs a Punch

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas offensive lineman Robert Felton laughs about even the slightest comparison to two-time, All-America right tackle Shawn Andrews.

The 6-foot-4, 320-pounder, who started in place of junior Tony Ugoh during Arkansas' 20-14 loss against Georgia last Saturday, isn't sure if his name belongs in the same sentence. Felton might have nimble feet, a wide body and nine knockdown blocks in his first career start, but the redshirt freshman said he has plenty to learn before becoming as dominant as the Philadelphia Eagles rookie.

"I'm not Shawn. Not yet," Felton said. "Shawn's a fantastic player. I've still got a lot of work to do."

Felton said he'll settle for serving as Arkansas' utility guy for now.

Offensive line coach Mike Markuson said the guard/tackle turned in a solid outing in place of junior Tony Ugoh, recording nine knockdown blocks against one of the nation's top defenses. It wasn't a flawless performance by any means, but Felton gained confidence, earned Markuson's trust and showed off some power.

The nine knockdown blocks were the second-most, single game total by a Razorback this season, equaling teammate Stephen Parker's performance against Louisiana-Monroe. Felton also holds the season-high with 11 knockdown blocks during Arkansas' season-opening 63-13 win against New Mexico State.

Andrews recorded a career-high 21 knockdown blocks during Arkansas' 34-31 double-overtime win at Alabama last season. He also recorded 9 knockdowns in wins against Tulsa and Kentucky and averaged 7.1 a game last season.

"Robert brings a punch," Markuson said. "He's strong, long-armed. He's 320 pounds. He's got a good base to him. He's a strong, thick-legged, big, square-body guy. When he hits you he has some punch to him."

Felton was penciled into the first-team at left guard after James Johnson tore a ligament in his knee before preseason drills began. But the redshirt freshman was pushed by Parker in practice and also missed time with a sprained knee. Parker landed the starting job and has held it the entire season.

Felton will return to his backup role against South Carolina if Ugoh is healthy after missing last Saturday's game with a kidney stone. Markuson said Felton made some freshmen mistakes, but alleviated some uncertainty about Arkansas' depth at tackle after Zac Tubbs' season-ending ankle injury.

The Houston native could stay at tackle -- the position he played throughout high school -- and has worked there the past two days of practice.

"I think he's pretty confident in me and I think I'll get a lot more playing time now," Felton said. "I'm happy because coach has confidence in me. They're probably going to try me a little at tackle. But I'm the man that will play guard and tackle. I know them both now.

"Wherever they need me at I'll go play."

Staying Grounded
Arkansas true freshman receiver Marcus Monk has moved into a tie with senior flanker Steven Harris for the team lead in receptions with 21. He's second behind Harris yards with 347, but his five receiving touchdowns leads all Razorbacks.

Even with the early success, the high-flying, 6-foot-6, 225-pounder is maintaining focus according to Hogs receivers' coach James Shibest.

"We've only seen a small portion of what he's capable of so far," Shibest said. "But he understands there are some things he still needs to do better and that's why he's out here (at practice) everyday, working on getting better."

One thing Monk is learning on the fly is how to handle double coverage. Against Georgia, the Bulldogs often kept a safety on Monk's side to provide help to the cornerback in man coverage. He still caught four passes for 59 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown in which Monk leapt between two defenders to make the reception on a pass from quarterback Matt Jones.

"I'm learning to be more aggressive," Monk said. "Me being young and everything, they're going to really be coming after me. Coach Shibest told me not to take anything from them, just be aggressive and play my game."

All of Monk's receptions came in the first half as pressure on Jones limited the opportunities in the second half. Monk bruised his calf during the game, but said that didn't bother him until the following day.

"I was open," Monk said. "But Matt was getting flushed out of the pocket because they were coming after him pretty hard and finally starting to get to him."

Taking Time Off
Arkansas coach Houston Nutt met with his players briefly Thursday afternoon before sending them home with a simple message: 'Take it easy.'

"I'm just going to chill all weekend and not do nothing," said Hogs running back Peyton Hillis, who welcomes the time off after fracturing three-transverse processes (bones attached to the vertebrae) in his lower back a month ago. "I can't wait to get back home."

The team will return Sunday and is expected to have practice in full pads to kick off a week of preparations before playing at South Carolina next Saturday at 11:30 a.m.

STAFF WRITER MIKE CAPSHAW CONTRIBUTED TO THIS REPORT.

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