Tuesday Grid Update, 8/23

The Hogs welcomed back one key player, but there was a serious injury in Tuesday's workout.

Senior tight end Jared Hicks went down with a high ankle sprain and junior tackle Tony Ugoh missed the workout with a stomach virus as Arkansas continued football workouts Tuesday.

Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said quarterback Robert Johnson returned to workouts, but was less than full speed after missing most of last week with an injured groin muscle. Nutt said Johnson was "maybe 75 to 80 percent. He got it loosened up as the day went along. We expect he'll be close to full speed next week."

Quarterback coach Roy Wittke said Johnson showed the rust from missing last week's practices, but said the sophomore had a "lot of catching up to do. We covered a lot last week and he was behind today. He was able to do everything we asked him to do with his leg. That wasn't a problem." However, Johnson was walking gingerly when he left the practice field.

Nutt said the injury to Hicks "looked pretty bad and I guess Peyton Hillis gave the bug to Ugoh. I guess that pretty much sums up how the day went."

Nutt said he "loved" what he saw of Matterral "Red" Richardson in practice Tuesday after the sophomore moved there from cornerback ahead of Monday's brief workout.

"I think that move will stick if we stay healthy at corner," Nutt said. "He really looked good today."

Chris Vaughn, who coaches the safeties, said it was obvious that there was "a lot of carryover between corner and safety. He picked things up pretty well. He's one of our top players, Matterral, and he had a good day. He knows how to tackle. Obviously, Randy (Kelly) has been inconsistent with his tackling. Matterral is a tough player and he is that way mentally and physically. He's a team first guy and he's been awesome about the move. He wants our team to win. If we asked him to play fullback and ask him to block a linebacker, he'd do it."

Vaughn was the main recruiter on Richardson, who hails from Marlin, Texas. He said he studied plenty of tape on Richardson.

"I saw him play quarterback, running back, wide receiver, cornerback and free safety," Vaughn said. "He's versatile and this move didn't bother him. He played plenty of free safety."

Richardson said he looked forward to playing for Vaughn.

"Nothing against Coach (Bobby) Allen, because I really like him as a person and coach, but Coach Vaughn was the one who sat the most in my living room and talked to me," Richardson said. "So naturally, I'm very comfortable with Coach Vaughn. I know him and I expect him to get after me the same as the others, too."

Richardson said he understands the basics of free safety already, but he is still learning some of the overall concepts and calls.

"You need to know some different things back there and I'm trying to pick up on them now," he said. "It's not a whole lot different though."

Asked if there had been a difference in Kelly after the move, Vaughn said, "Randy has stepped it up. He knows what he has to do. It's clear. It's good competition with Red there and he knows it."

Richardson sounded like he expected to move back to corner if Kelly improves.

"This isn't a battle between me and Randy," Richardson said. "I look at this as something that will benefit the team. If Randy moves back ahead, then I go back to corner, plus I learned safety if they need me there. If I stay, that's okay, too.

"But there is no grudge between me and Randy. I don't battle someone on the Arkansas team. This is about going to play someone else. Arkansas doesn't play Arkansas.

"It's something that is going to help the team is the way I see it."

In the meantime, Richardson will have to make some adjustments in practice. For one, things will be more physical.

"Corners don't go in the middle drill," Richardson said. "The safeties do. We didn't have middle drill today, but we did do some tackling drills today. We hit and it was physical.

"I've always looked at it like corners aren't physical tacklers, but that was something I tried to take pride in. So I wanted always to be a physical tackler. So this is fine with me. I already had that mindset. I'd say that not a whole lot of corners like to tackle."

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