Arkansas will likely start Pierre Brown at middle linebacker against Louisiana-Monroe, but dept at the linebacker spots is still a tough situation for the Hogs even with the senior captain back on the field.
"We are still very thin across the linebacker spots," said Reggie Herring, linebacker coach and defensive coordinator, after Tuesday's full pads workout as the Hogs prepared for their first trip to Little Rock this season.
The Hogs will meet Louisiana-Monroe at 6 p.m. Saturday at Little Rock's War Memorial Stadium.
Head coach Houston Nutt said the Hogs had a "good day" working against ULM's various offensive and defensive sets. He said the Indians are "multiple" on both sides of the ball.
"They will offer you every formation known on offense trying to get you to line up wrong," Nutt said. "They will run option and every thing you've seen, all out of the shotgun. They have a senior quarterback and a 6-6 wide receiver.
"Defensively, I know Kim Dameron. He was here and he was also with us at Murray State. He is going to blitz you and bring everything you've seen.
"Both offensive and defensively, we had a lot to go over and we had a good day."
Nutt said to expect to see true freshman Rod Coleman on the field some Saturday. How much may depend on the progress of Cedric Washington, slowed abit by a minor injury.
"Rod will play, how much I don't know, but he will play," Nutt said. "We want him to use his speed, we want him to block and we want him to go catch the ball."
Nutt said quarterback Robert Johnson has had a series of good workouts since the Alabama game, the first game that he looked unsettled this season.
"We've put a lot of pressure and showed him a lot of blitzes this past week and he's done well," Nutt said. "He had played well in his first three weeks and was really coming off a good half at Southern Cal before the Alabama game. I think you can see that even a quarterback like Chris Leak who has seen a lot of things over the past couple of years struggled with Alabama's defense."
Nutt said Johnson has shown no problems with the back injury that knocked him out of the SC game three weeks ago. However, Nutt said tight end Jared Hicks is out for the ULM game with an ankle problem.
Pierre Brown has been sidelined since sustaining a partial tear of a knee ligament late in the Vanderbilt game in the season's second week. Brown started the season at strongside linebacker, but has moved to middle linebacker, ahead of Clarke Moore, with the emergence of freshman Freddie Fairchild at strongside linebacker. Sam Olajubutu, the SEC's leading tackler, continues to start at weakside linebacker.
"We will roll our linebackers, but those three are going to play until they wave at us," Herring said. "We are going to go with them until they get tired. I made the mistake of pulling one at SC and he gave up a touchdown on the next play. So Pierre will play until he gets tired."
However, Herring thinks Moore will still get plenty of snaps.
"Pierre is rusty and he's not in game shape," Herring said. "I really don't know how much he can go. But Pierre is one of our spiritual leaders, a senior captain. We need him out there."
Herring said it's not a stretch to move Brown to mike linebacker.
"We cross trained Pierre at all those spots in the spring and preseason," Herring said. "That's not a problem. And, we can roll them around a little if we need to do that. We don't have much depth and we probably aren't going to have much this season. We probably can't address that until after the season. Moore is the backup at mike, Brandon Sturdivant is the backup at will and Weston Dacus is the backup at sam."
Herring said one of the bright spots on defense of late has been the play of Marcus Harrison and Keith Jackson at defensive tackle. He said the Alabama game was "the first time I looked out there and thought we had two D-I tackles out there. Keith Jackson played very well. We still have depth issues there. Marcus Shavers is coming on, although he still makes mistakes. But he's coming on there."
There was one light moment in the post-practice media session. Asked by Democrat-Gazette beat writer Bob Holt about Fred Bledsoe's progress, Herring said, "You go ask Fred about why he's not out there." Holt replied that he might not for fear of getting "beat up." Herring said, "If that happens, he might move up to the second team.
Herring was asked about playing a senior quarterback for the fourth straight week.
"That's an advantage for the offense and we know he will take advantage of your mistakes," Herring said. "Our main concern, and I will just leave it at that, is that we don't leave anyone uncovered this week.
"They are going to give us a lot. They are going to run every trick play known. They have a 6-6 wide receiver who hurt Arkansas last year and we will have to try to get a matchup there because they are going to throw it up for him. He got two catches against Arkansas State that were nothing more than jump balls and that was the difference in that game. We'll have to guard on that and work on that this week.
"They scored 20 on Arkansas last year and have the same quarterback and the same wideout. Enough said.
"We are a 1-3 football team. If we overlook this one and we are not ready then we all failed and we are all fools."
Tuesday Grid Update, 10/4
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