Matt Jones is back. The senior quarterback turned the corner on a roll out in Arkansas' practice Tuesday and after showing the defensive backs the ball, hit a gear that hadn't been seen in over two weeks of gimpiness over problems with his left leg.
Asked if that made him feel a little better about Jones being full speed for South Carolina this week, quarterback coach Roy Witte smiled and said, "Yeah, he did look good. That's a good sign for Saturday. He's definitely better."
Jones said after the workout that what he displayed in Tuesday's workout wasn't his fastest gear, but was only what he needed to turn the corner on that play.
"I can go faster," he said. "Didn't need to on that play. I think (the fastest gear) was there if I needed it. It felt good."
Did he feel any problems on that play?
"No, I was alright," he said. "I'm fine now."
Will he be able to go full speed on Saturday?
"I'll be fine," he said. "I'm alright. I really am."
Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said, "Matt looked real good today. He did about everything today."
Nutt also said the Hogs showed plenty of enthusiasm and "bounced around" well in the Tuesday workout that was in full pads in Walker Pavilion because of a wet practice field.
"We worked on all the different sets used by South Carolina," Nutt said. "Lou Holtz, as we all know, wants to run the ball, but they try to move those three, four and five wideouts around to get you out of position and then hand it to their big backs or run the draws with the quarterback. I will say that they have thrown the ball more this year than we've seen Lou throw it and they've thrown it pretty well.
"This is a critical game. We are in November now. It's been a long time since we've won a game. Our players are anxious and excited to see what we can do this week."
Offensively, Arkansas must take care of the football. South Carolina's defense has forced turnovers, including "13 or 14 interceptions," according to Wittke.
"They've been able to get turnovers, especially early in the game," Wittke said. "They make plays on defense."
Jones said he's noticed that, too, on film.
"They have athletes and they've gotten some picks," Jones said. "We've got to do a good job of taking care of the ball this week. This is a big game. We know that."
Jones has not thrown an interception in three seasons against South Carolina.
"What I remember about playing them is our defense has gotten some turnovers and given us great field position," Jones said. "It's those turnovers that have helped us score points on offense. It's been the way the defense has played more than the way I've played."
Wittke said Jones has missed a lot of time the past two weeks and is making up for lost time in the passing game this week.
"He's thrown it a lot," Wittke said. "He threw a bunch on Sunday. His timing was a little off on Sunday. He's got more velocity from the rest, but you have a little timing problems when you miss that much. He threw a bunch more today and was a little better. We'll give him quite a bit in the passing game again Wednesday. I think he'll be fine."
Offensively, the Hogs looked at several combinations in the offensive line, moving Robert Felton from right tackle, left tackle and left guard. Felton was with the first team at right tackle, ahead of Matt Gilbow, for a good portion of the workout. Gilbow was given extra running after practice and finished up by doing 100 yards of crab walks in an apparent disciplinary move by line coach Mike Markuson.
"Just some house cleaning," Markuson said. "Does that mean Gilbow will or won't start? Too early in the week to know. I'd say Felton got a little more than half the snaps with the first team at right tackle, and got a few with the second team at left tackle. He got a lot of work, and even some at guard. He's the one player we have who can do all of that. He's very intelligent and can pick it up.
"Tony Ugoh will start at left tackle. He's one of the guys I trust the most. Yes, he was late on Sunday, but I understand it. He left early enough to be here in time, but had that flat. If there is a guy I trust to tell the truth, it is Tony."
Markuson said he was looking forward to matching wits with South Carolina coach Lou Holtz on Saturday. Like many of the UA assistants, Markuson is a former Holtz assistant. He worked for Holtz as an offensive graduate assistant at Notre Dame the year after the Irish won the national title.
"He's a great coach and it's always special to play against your old mentor," Markuson said. "That's the case for a bunch of guys on this staff. We want to do well against him because we have great respect for him. We all learned a lot from him.
"One thing I know is that Coach Holtz is very aware of who is on this staff and that we've worked for him. He always knows that. I can attest to that. I got to visit with him at the (coaches) convention last winter.
"I know that when I worked for him as a GA, he'd come into the room and go to the blackboard and put the blocking schemes on the board for that week and the offensive game plan. That was impressive as a GA to see the head coach do that each week.
"I know that because it's a game against Coach Holtz, all of us have our competitive juices flowing this week. I assure you that's the case with all of us. It's because of the respect we have for him as a winner."
Tuesday Grid Report, 11/2
Hawgs Daily Top Stories
Longhorns Preview Oklahoma StateTexas offensive players discuss the Longhorns' upcoming game at Oklahoma State to kickoff Big 12 Conference play.
Horns DigestYesterday at 6:21 PM
Louisiana CB 'Real Close' to a DecisionIt may not be too long before one of the top cornerbacks in Louisiana makes his decision. Four schools are high on his list and you can get the latest here...
Scout FootballYesterday at 6:15 AM
JC defensive back talks ISU official visitOver the weekend, Iowa State played host to one of their top 2017 targets in the current recruiting cycle in Paramount, CA three-star JUCO CB Keisean Nixon. This visit for the…
AllCyclonesSunday at 6:34 PM
TCU vs Iowa State primerAfter falling in double-overtime to Arkansas, TCU looks to get back to their winning ways against Iowa State.
Horned Frog Insider09/15/2016