Spring Football Update: April 3

Arkansas wrapped up Wednesday's drills in full pads with a scrimmage on the goal line. Sophomore quarterback Matt Jones stepped up with some big plays.

Arkansas finished a two-hour football practice Wednesday with an extensive goal-line scrimmage with full contact. Quarterback Matt Jones took advantage of that scrimmage to shine with two touchdowns.

"Matt had a good day," Houston Nutt said. "But, all three of our quarterbacks are doing good things. They are all improving. Matt did throw the ball well today."

Nutt said the Hogs have had bright spots on both sides of the ball in their first week of spring drills.

"You like that balance," he said. "I think what I really like is that I see improvement on both sides of the ball. You can see the defense getting better.

"Our defensive line is coming on. I think Coach (Kacy) Rodgers is doing a good job with the D-line. Guys like Arrion Dixon, Elliott Harris and Scott Summers are making some plays and showing improvement. Coach Rodgers has got our defensive linemen playing with a good (low) pad level. I like what I see there."

Nutt said he continues to like what he sees in the offensive backfield with De'Arrius Howard, Brandon Holmes and Fred Talley. All three of those backs made big plays in scrimmage situations. Cedric Cobbs scored on a run up the gut in the middle drill.

Defensively, Jeb Huckeba and Gavin Walls continued to shine at inside linebacker. Both made stops for lost yardage in the goal-line scrimmage. Nutt said he was leaning towards leaving Walls at inside linebacker after using the junior college transfer at defensive end last fall.

"We are having a good spring," Nutt said. "What you continue to love is the attitude that these guys bring to the practice field. They love the game. They love to practice. I've been some places that you knew that might not have been the case. Not here. These guys are ready when you put the ball down to hit. The attitude is great and the team is getting better. We've done a lot of hitting and it seems the guys love it."

Nutt announced that Saturday's scrimmage will be at 10 a.m. so that the holdovers from the coaches clinic can stay for the action. Earlier, it had been announced by the sports information department that the Saturday scrimmage was at 1 p.m. Nutt reaffirmed the 10 a.m. time after practice Wednesday.

Quarterback coach David Lee said he is impressed with the improvement in fundamentals shown by Jones, but he said he still has room for more improvement.

"Matt is getting better, and he's working hard," Lee said. "What we are working hard is his lower body ... his footwork and steps. You see him do it right sometimes, and he's trying to get it right. But, sometimes he steps in the wrong place and then throws across his body, and sometimes he over strides and the ball comes out late. That hurts his accuracy. We've shown him and he's working on it. It may be something that doesn't get fixed all the way until this summer."

Jones said his arm strength has improved since the start of spring drills, but he admitted that it isn't what it was at the end of football season.

"I'm not back to that point yet, but it's getting better," he said after Wednesday's workout. "I thought I had a good day today, but I still have some things I can do better. I feel more comfortable every day."

Nutt said that Jones does "look more comfortable. I think he knows the plays better, and he's reading defenses better. It's more like it's English to him now than French. He's working hard."

Defensively, Jeb Huckeba and Gavin Walls continued to shine at inside linebacker. Both made stops for lost yardage in the goal-line scrimmage. Nutt said he was leaning towards leaving Walls at inside linebacker after using the junior college transfer at defensive end last fall.

Ryan Sorahan

Houston Nutt (left) and David Lee look for the next play to give quarterback Ryan Sorahan.

Ryan Sorahan

Ryan Sorahan follows through on a pass in practice with Houston Nutt in the background.

Photos by Clay Henry.

 


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