Defense Shoring Up 'Unacceptable' Mistakes

FAYETTEVILLE -- While Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring was happy to come out of last week's season opener with a win, in no way was he satisfied with the defensive performance.

One play, in particular, was still irking the UA coach Tuesday, that being Missouri State's 86-yard third quarter touchdown run on a third-and-long draw play.

"Obviously we made some mistakes Saturday that are unacceptable. We're better than that," said Herring. "I told them we're going to continue to work on tackling. I thought for the most part we tackled really well except for the one 80-yard run. And we can't give up 80-yard runs around here. That's unacceptable.

"And I thought that was probably the one thing that kind of ruined the whole night was that one run."

Asked what worries him the most about in this Saturday's matchup against Vanderbilt, Herring got right to the point.

"Quarterback," said Herring. "Their quarterback (Jay Cutler) is as good as we'll face all year, and that's including the guy we'll see next week (USC Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart). He's a big-time NFL type player. He's 6-4, 220, he's got great poise and confidence. He's tough, he's mobile and he'll make plays.

"He's really one of the best quarterbacks I've seen in a long time. He's the real deal with a solid supporting cast around him. This quarterback is just going to be a tremendous challenge for us."

Special Guests
Arkansas football practices are used to getting visitors from time to time and from several far off places. But Tuesday, four guests who made their way onto the Razorbacks practice field after the workout were indeed special.

Toney Crewford, James Hulitt, Vylendrus Dupree and Earl Corsey are just a couple of sharp-looking, football-loving kids.

They're also Hurricane Katrina evacuees.

The foursome who all hail from New Orleans, were joined by Arkansas Athletes Outreach's Marcus Carruthers at Tuesday's practice. This past week, they have been staying at Mount Sequoyah in Fayetteville. And after hours upon hours of little activity inside the newly formed shelter area, Carruthers took the boys on a trip they won't soon forget.

"Just coming out here is good for everybody," Carruthers said. "Most of the (evacuees at Mount Sequoyah), the day is spent just hanging out on the porch. So just to be in an environment where they can relax and unwind is really neat."

Crawford, Hulitt, Dupree and Corsey were introduced to several players and Carruthers said he hopes to arrange a trip to Saturday's game for the four boys along with other evacuees at Mount Sequoyah.

"We're looking into getting tickets for them," Carruthers said. "I don't know how they'd be if they got in that big stadium. Just out here at practice they were so excited. So if they were in there with all those fans -- you know Razorbacks fans are incredible -- and they're converting into Razorbacks fans already."

Arkansan Commodores
When the Razorbacks host Vanderbilt Saturday, a few Commodores will be making a trip back home. In fact, this year's Vandy roster includes three players from the Natural State.

Redshirt freshman fullback Zach Logan, of Wilson, Steven Stone, a true freshman defensive end from Conway, and true freshman offensive lineman Drew Gardner, of Hoxie, are now playing for the 'Dores.

Logan was one of three fullbacks to play in Vanderbilt's 24-20 season-opening win at Wake Forest last Thursday while both Stone and Gardner did not play.

Stone is a former teammate of Arkansas sophomore tailback Peyton Hillis when they paired up as Conway Wampus Cats.

"Hopefully I'll get to see (Steven)," said Peyton. "It's always neat when you hook up with your former teammates."

Who Are These Guys?
Arkansas fans can be forgiven if they don't have much recollection of the Hogs matching up against the Commodores.

Since Arkansas joined the SEC in 1992, the two teams have played just twice -- in 1994 and 1995. And Saturday's game will mark Vandy's first-ever visit to Fayetteville.

The Razorbacks hold a 4-1 all-time series lead against Vanderbilt, including a 2-1 record in Little Rock.

Working To Get Back
The biggest concern -- injury-wise -- for the Razorbacks lately has been the situation at tight end. Before their 49-17 win against Missouri State, the Hogs were already without two players at the position as both Jared Hicks and Wes Murphy missed the opener with high ankle sprains.

Add in the loss of Lance Thompson during Saturday's win and Arkansas' tight end options are as limited as ever.

Some good news might have shown up Tuesday, though, when Murphy returned to practice.

Although still hobbled and unable to go full speed, Murphy -- a former defensive end turned tight end -- appears closer to returning to the Razorbacks' lineup.

"I was so anxious to get out there from the get-go," Murphy said. "But now even more because a lot of us are hurt right now. I just want to get back out there and help as soon as I can."

Murphy didn't know for sure if he'd be in this weekend's lineup. But he's doing all he can to make it happen.

"I'm just going to try to keep doing more and more and hopefully it will get better each day," said Murphy. "I can't put a percentage on how I feel. I'm just going to work hard to get back."

Injury Update
While Thompson and Hicks are both still being held out of practice, a couple of Razorbacks returned to workouts Tuesday. Along with Murphy, defensive tackle Jeremy Harrell and wide receiver Carl Baker both were back on the field in pads

As for offensive lineman Zac Tubbs (ankle), he participated in stretching exercises and took on some light jogging before leaving practice early Tuesday.

See Razorback Central for more Hog stories.

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