Brown Back At Practice, Anxious To Go

FAYETTEVILLE -- The view from the sideline is not one Pierre Brown has relished the past two weeks.

A knee ligament has made him nothing more than a spectator.

And's he's tired of it.

"It's been like the hardest thing I've ever had to go through," Brown said. "I had never even missed a practice in my whole life. I was blessed and I had never gotten hurt before."

With Brown -- a senior linebacker from Birmingham, Ala. -- forced to the bench, the Razorbacks have had to rely on true freshman Freddie Fairchild to fill in. And while Fairchild has made strides, getting Brown back on the field will be like music to the Arkansas coaches' ears.

"Pierre Brown is a guy that brings calmness. He brings maturity and a sense of workmanship and leadership," said Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring. "I'm just saying, hey, if he had been in on that last (Alabama touchdown) play, he might have gotten somebody lined up and calmed them down.

"That's what you lack in Pierre not being there. The quarterback of the defense, the maturity level, the poise and a great commitment to football."

Brown has done his best impersonation of Razorbacks cheerleader over the last two weeks, minus the pom-pons. But he admits cheering for his teammates doesn't come close to playing alongside them.

Which made his return to practice Tuesday all the more sweet.

"It feels so good to get back out her with the guys," Brown said. "It's been real tough. I'm a captain and I want to be out there with my team."

Blast From The Past
Former Arkansas quarterback Clint Stoerner (1996-99) took in the Razorbacks' practice Tuesday afternoon.

An all-rookie selection this past winter as a member of Arena Football League's Dallas Desperados, Stoerner still keeps an apartment in Fayetteville in the offseason.

"I get back here quite a bit," Stoerner said. "I don't like to come to practice very much and get in the coaches' way. They have enough to deal with already.

"But I've been back in town, on and off, for about three months now."

As a sophomore first-year starter in 1997, Stoerner experienced much of the same growing pains being felt by Arkansas' current starting quarterback, Robert Johnson. In his first season as a starter, Stoerner completed just 48 percent of his pass attempts while tossing 13 interceptions and just 12 touchdowns.

In his final two years at Arkansas, though, Stoerner -- who said he is in the middle of a trade which will send him to the Arena League's Nashville organization -- developed into one of the best signal-callers in school history, passing for 4,922 yards and 45 touchdowns while leading the Razorbacks to a combined 17-7 record in 1998 and 1999.

What advise does Stoerner have for Johnson?

"Personally, he's got to hang in there," Stoerner said. "He can't change what he's trying to do. That was my problem, I was trying to do too many different things that first year.

"From my perspective, just be the same guy you were before. Even though you might be hurt or mad with the way things are going, the team needs him (Johnson) to stay calm. Let the defensive linemen or somebody else do all the cursing."

Internet Chatter
The Razorbacks have been a hot topic recently on a pair of sports Internet websites. Not necessarily in a good way, though.

At ESPN.com, college sports editor David Duffey ranks a "Bottom 10" in college football, listing the 10 worst or most disappointing teams each week. And while Arkansas escaped the Bottom 10 poll, it was mentioned as one of six teams -- along with Army, Central Michigan, Kentucky, Louisiana Tech and Rice -- on Duffey's "waiting list", of teams close to entering the Bottom 10 ranks.

ESPN.com wasn't the only one picking on the Hogs, though. At CNNSI.com, Stewart Mandel, the senior college football writer for the website, made Arkansas coach Houston Nutt his Hot Topic in Monday's Two-Minute Drill piece.

Mandel called Arkansas' losses to Vanderbilt and USC "humiliating" and said Nutt was in danger of losing his job with critics looking to replace him with former Miami University and Cleveland Browns coach Butch Davis.

"His one trump card, an oral commitment from the nation's top-rated high school quarterback, Mitch Mustain, may not even save his job," wrote Mandel. "Mustain hails from the same northwest Arkansas town, Springdale, as Davis."

Nutt Pulling For Bulldogs
Arkansas coach Houston Nutt is facing a dilemma of sorts.

Who to root for when No. 1 Springdale plays No. 2 Fayetteville on Friday.

While Nutt will be paying close attention to Springdale quarterback Mitch Mustain -- an Arkansas commitment considered by some to be the nation's top prep quarterback -- there's a quarterback at Fayetteville High who Nutt is quite fond of as well.

Houston Nutt III, coach Houston Nutt's son, is a senior quarterback at Fayetteville, forcing Nutt to perhaps root both ways this Friday in The Battle of the Bulldogs.

"I'm looking forward to it," Nutt said. "I'll tell you what, there's a good quarterback on both sides.

"It'll be fun watching that game."

So coach, who's it going to be? Purple'Dogs or Red'Dogs?

"Boy, that's a hard one," Nutt said. "I've got to pull for my son. But I'll tell you, I'll be pulling for a lot of people on both sides of the ball, if you know what I mean."

Injury Report
Getting Brown back at practice was the best news for the Razorbacks on the injury front. But Brown wasn't the only player who made his way back to the field on Tuesday after battling injuries

Both defensive end Marcus Harrison and offensive guard Jonathan Luigs (ankle) returned to practice as well. Harrison -- who played at Alabama Saturday, but was banged up with a high ankle injury -- was able to complete a full practice while Luigs went through offensive line drills.

According to Nutt, Luigs should be ready in time for the Razorbacks' Oct. 8 meeting with Louisiana-Monroe and is expected to reclaim his starting spot, currently held by Tyler Morgan.

Freshman tailback Darren McFadden was still nursing a sore shoulder and is being kept out of full-contact drills this week and junior receiver Chris Baker (knee) was able to practice Monday before cutting things short on Tuesday.

"He had a good day yesterday (Monday)," Nutt said. "He's still a little sore. We're really hoping to get him back."

In addition, freshman offensive linemen Michael Aguirre left Tuesday's practice with a boot on his sprained left ankle. He is expected to return to practice today.


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