With an eye toward next year's team and recruiting as well as next week, the University of Arkansas football team practiced inside the Walker Pavilion for just under two hours Wednesday in its next-to-last workout of this open week.
The highlight of the practice was once again the younger Razorbacks players, who got in a 20-play scrimmage at the end of the practice while being exhorted on by their older teammates and classmates who are seeing varsity time right now.
"We got another good practice in today and our young people like (freshman cornerback) Matt Harris and (freshman quarterback) Casey Dick and (freshman wideout) Rod Coleman did some outstanding things," UA head coach Houston Nutt said. "We got some good work with Louisiana-Monroe preparations and just trying to get better each day."
The open week gives Nutt and his staff a running start on Louisiana-Monroe, who actually hosts Arkansas State this weekend in Monroe.
"We have got them already broken down and we are into it pretty good)," Nutt said. "They are probably going to do most of the same things. Offensively they change two or three formations each week, but we have to expect that."
The open date certainly came at a good time for Nutt's team, which has been beat up physically and mentally during a three-game losing streak.
"We needed this open date, we needed to get well," Nutt said. "We have added a few things, but we put emphasis on correcting the things we didn't execute. If we just execute the things that we have, we are going to score more points, we are going to be a better team."
Wideout Chris Baker has suffered a setback, but offensive lineman Jonathon Luigs and linebacker Pierre Brown will be ready for Louisiana-Monroe.
"Baker's just a re-injury from earlier," Nutt said. "Luigs and Pierre Brown have made the most progress and will be ready for next week."
Arkansas, which had to workout inside because of rain, will get in a short practice on Thursday afternoon and then hit the ground - on in some cases the air - running.
Offensive line coach Mike Markuson left out Wednesday and other coaches will hit the road on Thursday.
"It is a really important weekend because the open date gives us a chance to go out and expand," UA recruiting coordinator Chris Vaughn said. "It's easy to go in-state somewhere near and get back, but when you have two days off it allows us to go to the furthest reaches of where we recruit like Minnesota, South Texas, North Dakota and different places that you couldn't normally get to on a Friday."
The Razorbacks will have seven coaches out on the road both Friday and Saturday and will be hitting junior colleges as well as high schools.
"On defense we need some older guys in the secondary and older guys at linebacker and older guys on the D-line," Vaughn said. "We have got some good young talent, but we need to get a couple of guys with experience to lead the way a little bit for the future. We are looking to the junior college ranks to find good people that fit our family. Not all guys that you recruit fit, so you have to find the right ones."
It would be a big bonus to have the juco players in for spring practice according to Vaughn.
"We have identified some guys that have a chance to be done in December," Vaughn said. "They would be here and ready to go in the spring."
Wednesday Grid Update, 9/28
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