Matterral Richardson's move from starting cornerback to starting free safety was the highlight of a big news day at what otherwise was a light practice Monday night for the Arkansas football team.
"Red Richardson and Randy Kelly will compete at free safety," said Houston Nutt, the Arkansas head coach.
However, defensive coordinator Reggie Herring said that Richardson would get the snaps at free safety right now.
"You can't move a guy who is a first team corner and put him at safety unless he's a starter," Herring said. "We've talked to Kelly about tackling better. We are moving our best tackler back there to free safety. That will give us depth there."
Nutt said the play of Michael Coe, now the starter at cornerback, gave the Hogs confidence to move Richardson.
"Michael Coe and John Johnson have had great camps and that's why we can move Richardson," Nutt said. "We've got more depth there than we thought. But if we lose some corners, we would have to move him back."
There were other moves as the Hogs practiced for the first time since a 90-minute scrimmage Saturday night.
Clarke Moore, working at second team end, was moved to second team middle linebacker behind Weston Dacus. Zach Snider takes the second spot at end.
Freshman defensive tackle Cord Gray, praised for his scrimmage work by Herring, was moved to second team.
Kevin Thornton was moved back to free safety after a few practices at linebacker.
Dedrick Poole, who took a few snaps at free safety in the scrimmage, is now "strictly an offensive player," Nutt said. "We'll expand his role on offense as an H-back and a receiver and get him the ball on screens and reverses. We are fine at free safety with the moves we made today and he can stay on offense."
Peyton Hillis and Robert Johnson were both back at practice Monday. Hillis had missed workouts Friday and Saturday with a stomach virus. Johnson, bothered by a sore groin muscle, practiced without any problems Monday.
However, Monday's practice, late in the day to accomodate the first day of classes and labs, was brief. The Hogs worked only 45 minutes before both the offense and the defense did some extra conditioning as a reminder for some problems on Saturday.
"We corrected some things and went over some missed assignments," Nutt said. "Then, the defense did some extra things for some loafs and the offense did some extra to remind them that the football is very valuable and we can't have it on the ground."
The practice was open and media got to see Herring put his unit through a series of up-downs for the loafs he graded on Saturday night. Nutt had the offense doing a conditioning drill that called for a long line of players with the back end player running the football to the front of the moving line and then all of the other players passing the ball back to the end of the line. The next back end player had to repeat the process. This went on for 20 minutes.
"We wanted even our linemen to touch the ball and know that it's a precious commodity," Nutt said. "We preach the three pressure points, the claw, the forearm and the rib cage. We talked a lot about that today."
Herring said his unit had plenty of loafs and also plenty of missed tackles.
"We went over that today," he said. "But, for the most part the effort was better. It was the missed tackles that bothered me the most. We will tackle well and we'll get the players on the field who can tackle. We are finding our best eleven. And, we made some moves in that regard. Then, we made some moves to find our next best eleven."
Herring said he likes the way Moore has "competed" at end and thinks his move will provide some experience and stability at middle linebacker.
"Frankly, we didn't know much about Clarke Moore," Herring said. "He's worked hard and proven to us that he is a dependable player who will get after you. He gives us some experience back there we need. He's played linebacker in an SEC game. Our young ones needed him back there."
Moore, coming off surgery for a bone bruise and some knee trouble, said he'd heard rumors for over a week that the move was in the works.
"Doesn't matter either way," he said. "I did have a lot of players tell me they were excited to have me back there again. I'm glad they feel that way. I just know I'm going to work my hardest to help the team in whatever way. If it was end, fine.
"I made up my mind last spring that I was going to work as hard as I could to help this team. I kept my head up and kept my faith. My knee feels good and I'm not having any problems.
"As far as the move, I'm familiar with what we are doing at mike linebacker. There is more back pedaling to do and I'll hve to knock some rust off there, but it will be fine."
Herring said he isn't concerned about Moore's speed.
"To be honest, Clarke isn't ever going to be a speed burner back there, but he's fast enough to do what we will ask from him there," Herring said. "We need him there. And, moving him allows us to bump Zach Snider back up to number two at end.
"The other pleasant surprise from the scrimmage and last few days has been Cord Gray. He's come out of nowhere and we need him at second team defensive tackle. He's made a move."
Nutt said he liked what he saw in the scrimmage, especially at quarterback.
"There was some good and not so good there, but a lot of positives," Nutt said. "Alex Mortensen, who had had two or three very good days, started out trying too hard and then he settled in and made some very good plays. Cole Barthel started out great, but didn't finish right."
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