Minutes after his team completed a long Wednesday practice, University of Arkansas head football coach Houston Nutt went through a laundry list of things his team had concentrated on in the workout.
Cutting down on turnovers, execution and keeping Vanderbilt quarterback Jay Cutler contained in both the passing and running game were among a few of those mentioned.
Nutt also spoke about how the team had worked hard this week on its passing game, which produced 108 yards and a touchdown on a 13-of-25 night in a 49-17 rout of season-opening foe Missouri State.
We've been working real hard on the passing game to keep improving that," said Nutt, whose team got its last 45 minutes of work in under a cloud cover. "We had a good day on that."
After rushing for 483 yards in the opener, Nutt knows Razorback starter Robert Johnson will see a lot of defenders close to the line early on in the game.
"I have been very proud of his concentration level and he has continued to work hard and is throwing the ball good," Nutt said of Johnson. "We have just got to keep going and be ready for anything - blitz, movement and ganging up on us in the box, which we expect."
Talented sophomore wideout Marcus Monk (6-6, 227), who opened his season with 6 catches for 77 yards and that touchdown, said he's seen improvement in workouts this week.
"It is all about preparation and we have a different level of opponent this week," Monk said. "We have been out here working hard and improving the things we do and I think we will be much more of a factor in this week's game."
There is certainly a difference in working with the departed Matt Jones and Johnson. according to Monk.
"With Matt there was more rollout and we just played pick-up ball at times," Monk said. "With RoJo, it is more of a system and a three-step drop and you have to be ready for the passes and it more of a receivers job to make plays now than the quarterbacks."
"We can't have those mistakes and it is just something you have to forget about and not let happen again in the next game," Monk said.
"We are deeper and we are more into the game now," Monk said. "We know the system. If they try to double-team one of us, now that we have so many weapons they are going to get burnt by somebody else. It makes it harder to scheme defensively against us."
Monk had a sensational freshman season, tying then-senior Stephen Harris for the team lead with 37 catches. Those receptions went for 569 yards and 6 touchdowns.
"I know what to expect now and how going through an entire season is," Monk said. "The system is new to me anymore and I just feel more comfortable and every thing is a little easier."
While Arkansas was working on its passing offense, it also was tuning up a pass defense that fared well against Missouri State, who was 12-of-22 for 160 yards with two interceptions.
Cutler was 25-of-36 passing for 276 yards with one touchdown and also rushed 10 times for 89 yards in a 24-20 road win over Wake Forest in which the Commodores squandered a 17-6 lead and then had to rally for the win with a fourth-quarter score.
"We had good concentration for the most part," Nutt said. "We are still working real hard on Vanderbilt's different schemes on offense. Again, anytime you run the option there is responsibility that is involved - who has the dive, who has the quarterback, who has the pitch. They do that to slow you down.
"They also have an excellent passing game," Nutt said. "This guy - we've mentioned Jay Cutler and we've been talking about him for the last few days - has great accuracy and very good receivers. We have got to do a great job with our eyes in the secondary and we've also got to put some pressure on him. We've got to rush this guy. He does a great job of getting rid of the ball, but hopefully we can get some pressure to him."
Arkansas got defensive tackle Jeremy Harrell (bruised thigh) back to practice on Wednesday while injured tight end Wes Murphy now looks like he will be able to play against Vanderbilt after missing the season opener.
"Wes Murphy got better and got a few more plays today," Nutt said. "Hopefully he will be just about ready by Saturday. He made it through about three quarters of practice and did some good things.
"Let us watch the film one more time tonight," Nutt said. "We are still working Marcus Harrison there, Keith Jackson, Marcus Shavers, Michael Tate - we have quite a few guys working in there."
Nutt was asked if its possible that offensive lineman Zac Tubbs would not play this season.
"I hope not, I hope he is ready by next week," Nutt said. "I keep wishing for the next week and I've been saying that for two weeks. He seems to be getting a little bit better."
Wednesday Grid Report, 9-7
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