Thursday Grid Report, 3/30

Arkansas didn't waste any times on the first day of full pads. Houston Nutt put the Hogs through a 25-play scrimmage with the offense providing some big plays.

Arkansas worked in full pads in a 2 1/2-hour workout, highlighted by a 25-play scrimmge to end the day, the Hogs' third of the spring. Running back Peyton Hillis was the star of the day, turning in four big plays, according to head coach Houston Nutt.

Here are some of the highlights of the day, followed by comments from Nutt:



* Hillis was the top hand on offense, making big plays in the running and passing game. He impressed former NFL assistant Tony Wise, the line coach for the Dolphins last year. Hillis ran over a linebacker in the hole at the start of the scrimmage and later ran over Matterral Richardson in the flats on a 30-yard run that ended on a 15-yard penalty when the defense tried to drag him down out of bounds. Hillis never went down on that play. Hillis also blasted a linebacker back in the hole on another running play and caught a pass in the flats for another first down.

* Robert Johnson was the best of the three quarterbacks, all of who worked with the first team during the 25-play scrimmage. Johnson had a 24-yard TD pass to David Thompson when the wide receiver scooted down the sideline to beat zone coverage, catching the ball behind Darius Vinnett and before Lorenizo Robinson could close from the middle. Johnson also had two big plays on similar throws in pass skeleton.

* Reggie Herring, who passed out six pink jerseys for too many "loafs" before the workout, was disappointed in the tackling and the way the offensive line dominated his front seven. He thought the line was more physical than the defense. Still, he saw improvement for the third straight day and thinks his unit will get there. Right now, they are still a long way from where he wants them. You "earn" a pink jersey, according to Houston Nutt, when you have six or more loafs on two straight days. Those with pink jerseys were Keith Jackson, Michael Tate, Jamaal Anderson, Michael Robinson, Sam Olajubutu and Weston Dacus. Anderson is on the first team, the rest are backups. There was actually good news on the loaf count. After Herring found 140 loafs on Monday, he found only 88 when he graded Tuesday's film.

* Desmond Sims, converted to defensive end this spring, was one of the highlights Thursday. He drew praise from Herring in the one-on-one drill at the start of practice when he went toe-to-toe with massive Robert Felton for a long stretch in the opening part of that drill. It was the bull-in-the-ring type drill where an offensive and defensive player face off and lock up. The winner is the one who can take the other to the ground. Herring shouted, "He's got 130 pounds on you and you got a stalemate. Great job, great job." Sims then came up with the only big play by the defense in the scrimmage, blasting through to sack Johnson midway through the scrimmage.

* There were some injuries for the first time this spring. Jonathan Luigs was injured early in the workout when a sled fell on his leg, gashing his right thigh. He'll need a significant number of stitches, according to Houston Nutt. Keith Jackson sustained a leg injury, probably to his knee, early in the scrimmage. Lorenizo Robinson bit his tongue with a hard tackle on Thompson as the wideout hit the corner on the TD play in the scrimmage.

Here are comments from head coach Houston Nutt:

"We had a good day. We put the ball down (to scrimmage) today. We had some missed assignments. But we saw improvement from yesterday, too. That's what you come out to see, to make improvement. I see a hunger and willingness to learn. We are asking them to be attentive to detail and we see improvement. As long as we have a passion to improve and learn, we are happy. We are seeing that.

"We got better today. We had only one fumbled snap and no lost turnovers. No fumbles and no interceptions. We are getting better.

"The defense still has a long way to go, but they are getting better. They are taking baby steps. They are chasing the ball and playing hard.

"It was a very physical day. We had some one-on-one hitting sessions at the start. We did that as soon as we came out. It's not natural for two guys to line up and butt heads and you want to get that going as soon as you can. We did that today. We strapped on the helmet and got after it.

"Coach Herring identified some of the players with pink jerseys. That was for two days in a row with at least six loafs. I bet we don't have as many (in pink) tomorrow.

"The quarterbacks threw the ball better today. Robert Johnson has had two good days in a row. He threw a couple of nice balls in pass skeleton and he had another one in the scrimmage, a nice ball to David Thompson for a touchdown.

"Alex made some nice throws, too. Cole Barthel -- well, it was like he was in his third day as a 22-year-old freshman -- but he made one really good decision to dump the ball off to Peyton Hillis.

"Peyton Hillis had an excellent day. We had two true tailbacks out there and both of them did well. I thought Kyle Dickerson was excellent along with Peyton.

"We had some good work from the offensive line. We were moving Robert Felton around from guard to tackle and he was very good. Kyle Roper and Stephen Parker were very good, too. I saw some others improve, too, like Chase Pressley, Tyler Morgan and guys like Nate Garner had an excellent day, too. Roper, Parker and Felton are our veterans and they played very well."


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