Spring football began Wednesday with a high intensity workout that featured lots of pass drills, a sign of what is in store the next 14 practices.
"We had a great day, the fastest two hours I can ever remember," said Houston Nutt, the Arkansas coach. "We had great intensity and great concentration. It's obvious that we have great continunity with both this staff and these players. We hit the ground running and we are far ahead of where we've been in the past few years in the spring."
Nutt praised Shawn Andrews, Elliott Harris, Jim Peters, Josh Melton and DeCori Birmingham after the fast-paced workout at the Walker Pavilion.
"I really like what I saw from DeCori Birmingham," Nutt said. "We'd like to use him a lot like LSU used Josh Reed. We want to get the ball to him on pitches, screens and also use him to stretch the field. He went the wrong way a couple of times because he's still learning, but he can make big plays for us."
Nutt said he "feels real good about where the team is now because of the continuity" with only one change in the coaching staff.
"We didn't change a lot, but we are doing things much faster," he said. "We've got some experience at quarterback and we don't have to go so slow. We got right after it today and they all looked good.
"As far as this team, I love their attitude. They were anxious to get started because we kicked it back a couple of weeks, and you could sense their eagerness today. Our quarterbacks are in shape and they did very well today."
Quarterbacks Matt Jones, Tarvaris Jackson and Ryan Sorahan all completed some impressive throws in the lengthy passing drills Wednesday.
James Shibest, the Hogs' new wide receivers coach, said Birmingham looked "great" on Wednesday.
"He is not always sure what he is doing, and sometimes doesn't know how to flow into certain routes, but he'll catch on," Shibest said. "We'll show him some things that will make it easier for him as far as positioning his body. But, he looked impressive to me.
"I loved what I saw from Richard Smith and George Wilson. I gave them some new things, and showed them some little things that I'd like to see them do differently. They listened and they will adapt to me. It may actually be easier for some of the new ones like Thomas Crowder, Wake Forest transfer Carlos Ousley and DeCori because they are not used to someone else. They all seem eager to learn what I want. We'll be adding some new routes and some different things. Ousley showed me some great things in one-on-one drills. He has ability.
"Boy, I felt great today. I felt like a new man. I played this position and I coached it for eight years before coming here, so it was great to be at wide receiver. I was excited all day and the players were extremely good at listening to what I wanted."
George Wilson, one of the Hogs' holdovers at receiver, termed it a "wonderful" day.
"This was so fun today," he said. "I can tell you this is going to be a different offense with a great emphasis for balance. I would guess we might have four or five guys that catch 30 balls this year. That will be the balance that will make it hard on the defense and open things up for our team."
Nutt said all of the running backs looked quick and sharp, especially Fred Talley.
"I'd say Fred is back now," Nutt said. "You have to give our track coaches a lot of the credit, but Fred was so much quicker and faster than you saw last fall. I could see a big difference."
The Hogs moved the backs around quite a bit with Mark Pierce, De'Arrius Howard and Brandon Holmes all working some at fullback. Cedric Cobbs looked quick and a bit lighter while taking a few turns with the top unit at tailback.
The Hogs will practice again at 3:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, before taking the field about 9:45 a.m. on Saturday. They will take Sunday off for Easter.\
Wake Forest transfer Carlos Ousley has some nice dreadlocks as seen flowing from under his helmet.
Tight ends coach George Pugh will rely on crutches throughout spring drills after injuring his Achilles' tendon a couple of weeks ago.
Ryan Sorahan calls signals Wednesday to open spring drills.
Jay Strain sports a knee brace and elastic bandage on his repaired knee.
Dave Wommack (left) and Bobby Allen visit with Fred Talley (20) after practice.
George Wilson (88) finishes off a route after a reception Wednesday.
Photos by Clay Henry