Tuesday Grid Update, 10/11

Arkansas may be close to full speed with a pair of starters back at practice Tuesday.

Kyle Roper and Cedric Washington, both out last week with injuries, returned to the practice field Tuesday as Arkansas continued preparations for Saturday's game with Auburn in Fayetteville.

"We had a good day," said Arkansas coach Houston Nutt.

Asked about Roper and Washington, Nutt said, "Roper practiced today and got a lot of the work. Washington practiced, too. Washington is further ahead than we anticipated. We'll see how their week goes."

Roper is the starting center. Washington is the Hogs' starting flanker.

Nutt said Cedric Logan, who started in Washington's place, had another solid practice and said the redshirt freshman is gaining confidence.

The Hogs did sustain one injury. Backup tight end Wes Murphy had to leave the workout after taking a kick to the groin area. Nutt said Murphy would be x-rayed.

"We practiced hard and had a good day," Nutt said. "Tuesday is a tough work day. We'll have another hard day on Wednesday.

"We got a lot done today. We need to get a lot done again Wednesday."

Nutt said he expects Auburn to play the Hogs tighter than any team they've faced this year as far as "over populating the line of scrimmage. Auburn has done that every year. They'll play the 4-3 and walk a safety up to have eight in the box. So far, we haven't seen a lot of teams play us that way, but we expect that to happen."

Asked about needing more in the passing game this week, Nutt said, "We think Robert Johnson has been able to do more each week, but the key is protection. Auburn's linebackers and ends are small and very fast, 4.5 guys. They come off the edge very quick and hard. We'll have to handle that."

Nutt said he's been surprised by how loose and soft most defenses have played the Hogs so far.

"I think that is probably the home run hitters, our freshmen backs, more than anything," Nutt said. "When people see them run past people, they don't crowd the line as much. We've also been able to do a little better job with our screens. That slows the blitzes some.

"But we expect Auburn to crowd us and over populate the line of scrimmage. They have every year and that's what we anticipate this time."

Another concern is Auburn's tall, athletic wide receivers.

"They've got one 6-3 and another 6-5," Nutt said. "They have great hands and they do a great job of going to get the ball."

Defensive coordinator Reggie Herring knows what to expect from the Tigers.

"They have a young quarterback who is gaining confidence and getting better," Herring said. "I think they've played a Merry Christmas schedule after the Georgia Tech game and we'll see how far he's come. Tech got after him and he struggled, but he's done well since then. He's gotten better and we'll see where they are after an open week.

"Sometimes the schedule they've played gives you a false sense of reality. Every team should have to go play Southern Cal in the third week of the season. You get a sense of reality there pretty quick.

"Auburn is very good. They did play one very good team. Georgia Tech is a real team. I know what the ACC is about. You don't want none of it.

"I do hope that having played some of the (senior quarterbacks) we've seen has prepared us for what we are going to see the rest of the season. Knowing this quarterback is young, we will try to get after him early and see what he can do. If we get after him and we are successful, we'll give him some more. If he can handle, you back off. We can do what we have to do. We will play it as the game goes along. Now, that's all easier said than done."

Wide receiver coach James Shibest is a father for the second time. Wife Diane gave birth to an 8-pound, 15-ounce girl Monday morning. The daughter is named Jordyn Grace Shibest.

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