Thursday Grid Update, 9/22

Arkansas senior linebacker Sam Olajubutu may be his team and the SEC's leading tackler right now, but he's not happy about the way it's happened.

Arkansas coach Houston said the Hogs' workout Thursday ranked right with Wednesday's good practice "giving us two days with great intensity back-to-back." The Hogs travel to Alabama this weekend.

Nutt said linebacker Pierre Brown was out for this week's Alabama game. Brown, one of the team captains, hails from Birmingham, Ala. He is sidelined with a slightly torn knee ligament. He injured the knee against Vanderbilt and did not play last week.

Tight end Jared Hicks, slowed with an ankle sprain since preseason, will try to play against the Crimson Tide.

"Jared is doing better and we are going to see if he can play this week," Nutt said.

Nutt said the Hogs had an "excellent attitude this week and we just want to carry it right into the game."

Asked who will start at tailback, Nutt said that decision would depend on the situation. There have been indications in the early portion of workouts that are open to the media that Darren McFadden has been running with the first team, but Nutt wouldn't clarify that position.

"It could be any of the four -- Darren McFadden, Peyton Hillis, Felix Jones or De'Arrius Howard," Nutt said. "It could be that it's De'Arrius (at tailback) and Peyton (at fullback) on the first play. It could be Darren and Felix back there and you could also have Brandon Kennedy (at fullback) -- any of those combinations depending on the call. For instance, last week, the first call was a screen and Felix was out there."

Nutt was concerned that the Hogs are thin in the senior class and some of the key members of that group are already out.

"We don't have many seniors and you are without Pierre and (Zac Tubbs) already," Nutt said. "Pierre is a captain and we've missed him from the point he went down against Vandy.

"But you just go with what you've got. Freddie Fairchild is a true freshman and you'd like to redshirt him, but he's a starter now and he's playing on special teams, too. He's getting all he wants. I love his hustle and his heart. He got lost on a couple of plays last week, but he did some good things in the game, too.

Concerning possible redshirts, Nutt said there was nothing in concrete just yet. He said the Hogs don't have to make a decision on redshirts until they finish the open week after this game. He said Chris Baker, Darius Vinnett and Zac Tubbs are all redshirt candidates at this point, but no final decision has been made.



Normally having 14 tackles on national TV against the No. 1 team in the country would bring a smile to a football player's face.

But doing it in a game in which his University of Arkansas team was hammered by 70-17 by USC was not conducive for any happiness whatsoever for Razorback senior linebacker Sam Olajubutu (5-9, 227).

"That individual success is not what it is all about to me," Olajubutu said. "I didn't even know I had 14 tackles until a writer told me. I only know that we lost and the defense didn't play well at all. It was embarrassing and can not and will not happen again."

Olajubutu, the SEC's leading tackler with 37 stops in three games, and his teammates have been trying to put that humbling loss behind them this week in preparation for Saturday's 11:30 a.m. game at Alabama that we be televised by Jefferson-Pilot.

They ended up on-campus work on Thursday afternoon with a short workout in which the team was focusing on one thing more than any other according to Olajubutu, who had a career-high 15 tackles against Missouri State in the season opener.

"We have been just trying to turn it around this week," Olajubutu said. "The only thing we can do about the USC game is not let them beat us again at Alabama this weekend. Our total focus this week has been on correcting mistakes, playing each play hard and worrying only about Alabama - not what happened at USC."

Olajubutu had 12 solo stops and a pass break up against USC, but he knows all people remember is that Arkansas gave up so many easy plays, including 4 touchdowns on the first 8 plays.

"It was just a lot of mental mistakes," said Olajubutu whio had 85 tackles as a sophomore and 52 as a junior. "It was everybody from the D-line to the linebackers to the secondary. No group played well enough and obviously we didn't play well enough together."

Asked about the criticism that defensive coordinator Reggie Herring has gotten this week and his brash style possibly wearing on the players, Olajubutu said that speculation was inaccurate.

"Look, anybody who tells you we have let go of the rope for Coach Herring just doesn't know what they are talking about," Olajubutu said. "I would love to blame it on somebody else, but it was a matter of us not doing what we were taught to do - not being taught to do it in the first place. We just got out there, made a few mistakes early and you can't do that against a college team that has so many future NFL guys playing on it."

In fact, Olajubutu - who also has five quarterback hurries - said he and the other defenders love Herring's scheme, but just have to play it better.

"We feel good about the scheme, very good about it," Olajubutu said. "But it doesn't matter what scheme you have out there, if you don't execute, you are going to suffer the consequences against teams like USC and Alabama."

Alabama may not be as exciting an offense or have as many NFL prospects as USC, but Olajubutu says the Crimson Tide offense is still going to be a load to deal with on Saturday.

"They have got some real good running backs and they are going to keep real good running backs because they are a running team," Olajubutu said. "They are a real big physical team, got a good big offensive line. It is just going to be some hard-nosed football."


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