UA Thursday Grid Report, 11-4

As Saturday's big game at South Carolina looms, Arkansas' spirits soar as some of its top players look like they are going to be full speed.

The last time Matt Jones, Peyton Hillis and DeCori Birmingham formed a healthy backfield together, the result was a University of Arkansas win.

That has been almost 40 days against Alabama back in late September, but all three looked near 100 percent as the Razorbacks (3-4, 1-3) practiced on Thursday, finally getting a workout in outdoors after being forced inside the first part of this week due to rain.

Especially Jones, who both Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt and South Carolina (5-3, 3-3) know is the biggest weapon on either team during Saturday's 11:30 a.m. game in Columbia, S.C.

"The only thing I can go by is what we have seen and he's looked good this week," Nutt said. "He's tried it out full speed and it's all systems go right now. That's moving as far as laterally, making moves, making people miss - all those things that he didn't have in the Georgia game."

Hills, the fabulous freshmen running back who had made an impact in both the running and passing games early in the season, hurt his back against Florida and was available for only a few plays against Georgia.

But that won't be the case as Nutt will certainly get Hillis more into the gameplan against the Gamecocks.

"We'll see how it's going, the flow of it and what's needed," Nutt said. "You didn't feel that way against Georgia. You felt very uncertain where now we feel very good about his back and taking a blow."

There were several other walking wounded getting in time on Thursday. With the exception of running back Dedrick Poole and possibly wideout David Thompson, Nutt expects everybody else to contribute.

"We have just about got everybody full speed," Nutt said. "Now it's time to go play. We have had two weeks to get ready and I think our guys realize the month of November is finally here and it's time to go."

Tight end Jared Hicks has worn a green jersey all week in practice and will not be totally healthy at any point during the season.

"He's got an AC sprain, which will probably require some surgery after the season," Nutt said. "It is just one of those things. He is tough guy and he's fighting through it."

Nutt and his players have heard all week about how bad South Carolina needs a win to get in a bowl after a a drought, but nobody's feeling sorry for anybody else.

"We've got a tall task in front of us and everybody has got to be at their best," Nutt said. "It's been a long time, Alabama was a long time ago especially with a couple of open dates in there. If you talk to them individually, you know it's been a long time since they have had that feeling in that locker room - that celebrating locker room."

Arkansas will leave Fayetteville in time to get in a short 2:30 p.m. practice in South Carolina on Friday.

"It will be a short practice, just get a feel for the stadium and then hit it," Nutt said.

While it is the South Carolina's seniors final home game, Arkansas is wanting to make it a great day for them.

"We are going to make it a special day for us," Nutt said. "This is a critical point in our schedule. Everybody knows that and our players know it."


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