Arkansas welcomed Zac Tubbs back to the practice field, but learned starting linebacker Pierre Brown is unlikely to play this week at No. 1 Southern Cal.
True freshman Freddie Fairchild is the probable starter at outside linebacker in place of Brown, sidelined with a slight tear in a knee ligament. The Hogs were hopeful that Brown would return by the Alabama game, next week. Michael Robinson would move to be Fairchild's backup. True freshman Tyrell Graham will be Sam Olajubutu's backup.
Tubbs practiced for the first time since sustaining a high ankle sprain midway through preseason practice. He was available on a limited basis on Tuesday. How his ankle responds Wednesday will determine his status for the trip to SC.
Split end Chris Baker is still out with a knee sprain. MRI results didn't show any tears, but the damage still should keep him out two more weeks. Nutt said no decision has been made on whether or not to redshirt Baker. Baker has yet to play this season and has not redshirted in the past.
"We had a good day of practice," Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said. "We had a good preparation day for SC."
Nutt said the Hogs finished the day with some "good on good," meaning the first offense worked against the starting defense to try to simulate the game speed they'll see Saturday night against SC.
"We have awesome respect for that team," Nutt said. "Our guys know about them even without the radio and the other media. But this game is about pride and more about us than about playing them.
"I expect our team to give great effort Saturday. We want to take advantage of an awesome opportunity against the top team in the country."
Asked about the betting line that has gone over 30 points with SC the favorite, Nutt said, "We've been underdogs before and we've responded and played well. We've faced that situation before. It's like in the SEC, we know we are facing a great team, but we are not thinking about that."
Nutt thought the team practiced hard and was obviously giving effort throughout the day. He said as down as the team was on Sunday after the upset loss to Vanderbilt with heads lowered and eyes down in the meeting room, it was just the opposite on Tuesday in all meetings and on the field.
"They gave it to us today, no question," he said. "It was a great day of work and I'm proud of them. Sunday was a tough day around here. It was different today."
Reggie Herring, the Hogs' defensive coordinator, said he was pleased with the attitude and work ethic of his unit on Tuesday. That goes for the game against Vandy, too.
"We grade loafs hard and we had only 12," he said. "That's 25 guys playing about 75 snaps. That's a lot of plays. If you have just 12, you ought to win. We didn't have as many missed tackles, 10 or so, but there were four on one play.
"So you say, how did we lose because all of that is pretty good? All of that should have resulted in a win. We were in position to make plays and just didn't. Our focus this week in practice is making plays. We put a premium on that today. We have to get better there.
"I saw improvement on defense against Vanderbilt. We didn't win because their quarterback, Jay Cutler, made some great plays. We had Razorbacks right in their throats in a lot of plays and he and their receivers hung in and made plays. Now, we had our hands on some. We have to finish those plays. We didn't finish.
"We have to keep working, keep improving. We just have to keep doing what we are doing and make more plays. If I had to do it over again, we'd do a lot of the same things. I wouldn't back off (on blitzes) one inch or people would be saying we were in prevent. I'm not even talking about any of the penalties. We just could have made more plays. They made plays and we didn't.
"We were much better on our assignments than in the first week. We made improvement, but we have to keep doing that. We have to keep getting better and grow. I loved some of the things we did, even on the play where we had four missed tackles. Darius Vinnett gave incredible effort, chased the guy down inside the 5-yard line and then we held them to a field goal! I love that. I can live with effort like he gave. Now, we have to get it from all of them on each play, but we are getting closer."
When Herring talks about making plays, what is he looking for?
"I'm talking about catching an interception when the ball goes through your hands," he said. "I'm talking about more than just be tight on your man. You have to turn to look for the ball and then go get it. There were some of Cutler's passes that were floating, but we didn't turn around. We harped on that today."
Herring didn't buy the fact that the Hogs had no chance at SC. He also thinks the Hogs will give a fair account of themselves.
"There is not a doubt in my mind that our character is being challenged this week," Herring said. "How many people have been kicked in the teeth one week and then have to get back in front of the college football world the next. Our manhood is being challenged.
"I know what people are saying about us. But, we are going to look at it like we are 1-1. I don't think we will throw in the towell. We have nine to go and plenty of time to get it all straightened out.
"Everyone is talking about us and laughing. They say SC will breeze. But those guys in Vegas, the bookies, can't judge character. They don't have a heart chart. We'll come to play. We'll see what happens."
Herring said he sees excitement in his players' eyes about going to Los Angeles to play the No. 1 Trojans.
"Number one, if you are a competitor then you have to be excited about a great opportunity," he said. "What we have to do is spend this week worrying about Arkansas and not them. We have to go out there and fight them with every breath in our body. We can't and aren't going out there with our tails tucked between our legs and thinking the sky is falling, the sky is falling."
Herring said he's been in similar situations and seen good results as far as effort. He recalls an underdog Oklahoma State team going to Lincoln, Neb., to play a Nebraska team loaded with the same kind of talent SC will bring to the Coliseum floor.
"That Nebraska team had Turner Gill, Irving Fryer, Mike Rozier, Dave Remington and a bunch more," he said. "We weren't given a chance in the world. We played them dead even and lost at the end. I think it was 20-17 and they were glad to be done with us.
"I remember that we played Oklahoma with J.C. Watts, Billy Sims, David Overstreet and another great bunch of players. That was a similar team. We gave them all they wanted.
"I just know that you can't always measure the human spirit. People don't understand the 21-year-old mind. Yeah, we got kicked in the teeth, but let's bow up and move on.
"What would you do? You bow up. You can't worry about the pulse of the community, polls or who thinks which team should win. We lost one we shoulda won and we didn't make plays. Let's get better and go see what we can do.
"We are going against a Heisman Trophy winner (in quarterback Matt Leinert). A true competitor looks at it as a great opportunity. It's a great chance to play the game and see if you can intercept one of his passes or sack him or upset the No. 1-ranked team.
"We've seen there film. We've seen teams like Oregon State play 'em close. We've seen Notre Dame play 'em tight except for one quarter. There are games they are human."
Then, there are others that the Trojans are super human.
"We didn't show our guys the Oklahoma game in the bowl," Herring said. "I don't want to demoralize them. OU has better players on defense than those teams I just mentioned and that one wasn't close.
"But we are going to rely on the human spirit. You cannot put a price tag or measure the human spirit. That's what we will rely on."
Defensive tackle Keith Jackson said, "We are excited. We know what they have, great players at every position. They have the best quarterback, best tailback, best wide receivers and best tight end. But we are excited to go out there. I've waited for this chance. I've looked at film of them this summer. I've seen them play.
"We will be there. We are not moping about last week. You can't. We will show up. Let them know we are coming."
Tuesday Grid Report, 9/13
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