Houston Nutt's University of Arkansas football team went through its normal Thursday practice, trying to touch every possible scenario it could come up that might happen in Saturday's game with visiting Ole Miss.
But what was a little bit unusual - other than former Razorback and current Miami Dolphin Tony Bua being on the sidelines - was the impassion plea that the head coach made via the media after practice.
Perhaps Nutt knows fans might not show up in record numbers because of his team's 3-5 mark playing another 3-5 squad, likely cold weather (something that forced the team to workout indoors on Thursday), an early starting time and deer season opening up.
"I tell you what, I really need our fans," Nutt said. "I really need our Razorback fans to be there. I know its early, but I need you to leave a little bit earlier. I need you to be loud. I need this to be such a homefield advantage."
He also touched on how it was the last game in Fayetteville for seniors such as Jeb Huckeba and Gene Perry, two Razorbacks who were named to the CoSIDA Academic District VI team on Thursday.
"Sometimes that goes unnoticed that these guys are doing so good in school and are going to graduate and some have already graduated," Nutt said. "I think they really deserve a good Saturday. I need you there."
After a promising 3-1 start that could have easily been 4-0, the Razorbacks have lost four in a row and are reeling.
It's been clear from the last two practices that the Arkansas players have picked themselves up off the floor after a disheartening 35-32 loss that could have gotten them back to .500 and made the quest for six wins and bowl eligibility much easier.
"It's been a lot of difference since we came out here Sunday until this time," Nutt said. "It's been better each day. As a coaching staff, we appreciate the effort and the attitude. This has been one of our better weeks. That what it takes when you are getting ready to play a team like we are playing. You have got to have the intensity."
Perhaps that has to do with the fact that the Razorbacks - as well as the Rebels - must win out in their last three games to get to a bowl. The loser of this Saturday's game will be simply playing for pride the last two games.
"They know they are down to about 10 or 11 practices in their career here," Nutt said. "It will be the last time to ever run through the A here in Fayetteville. Tony Bua was back here today talking about that - how he missed those days and how they were the best days of your life. They don't always believe it. I think the seniors really felt it this week. They really practiced like it."
While Thursday is a non-contact day, it is a day where Arkansas polishes up everything in its offensive and defensive game plans, goes through every special team scenario, works on its two-minute drills and plays from every position on the field.
It looks as much like a dress rehearsal as possible for Saturday's game with quarterbacks Matt Jones and Robert Johnson leading the offense through plays that Arkansas feels with best work against the Rebels and going against plays that Ole Miss has offered up in their previous games.
"You just touch on everything you can, get us prepared as you can and let it go," Nutt said.
With the exception of tailback Dedrick Poole and lineman Zac Tubbs, everyone looked ready to practice with their efforts on Thursday.
"We are about as healthy as we have been all year," Nutt said. "You would have loved to have not had the injuries, but the the thing now is to just make it happen, not make excuses. We just have to go out and get it done as coaches and as players. We need everybody's absolute best effort."
While Arkansas has to make it happen on the field, Nutt wouldn't mind Ole Miss making a mistake or some other force making something good happen either.
"We just need a break, just need a win, just need that dose of medicine that they talk about," Nutt said.
UA Thursday Grid Report, 11-11
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