Tuesday Grid Update, 10/18

The Hogs lost a defensive starter for the season, but the key questions centered around the quarterback slot as they prepared for a trip to Athens.

Arkansas learned defensive end Anthony Brown will be lost for the season with an injury to his ankle. Coach Houston Nutt said the tendon "was torn from the bone" on the injured ankle.

Jamaal Anderson wills start in Brown's place this week against Georgia. Defensive coordinator Reggie Herring added that the redshirt "will be burned" on true freshman Antwain Robinson if the Hogs need a fourth end this week.

"It looks like Robinson will have to play," Herring said. "We just don't have much depth there."

The top three defensive ends at the two spots are Anderson, Desmond Sims and Zach Snider. Robinson, product of Little Rock Central, would be next in line.

However, most of the talk at Tuesday's shorts and shoulder pads workout centered on the quarterback post. It seems the Hogs are going to make a change with the starting slot after Robert Johnson stuggled against Auburn, but no one was ready to name a starter. In fact, it seemed unlikely there would be any mention of the starter against Georgia before the game from anyone in the Arkansas camp.

"I'm not trying to be vague," said head coach Houston Nutt, but it was obvious that he was vague on any quarterback questions.

Asked if the quarterbacks had a good workout, Nutt replied, "Yes."

Asked if the team responded to whatever move was made at quarterback, Nutt again said, "Yes."

Nutt added that all of the quarterbacks "worked hard and looked good." Asked if true freshman Casey Dick would play this year and burn his redshirt, too, Nutt said, "I'm not trying to be vague, but ... " And, he did not finish the sentence.

Nutt did say that one quarterback got the "majority" of the repetitions at quarterback.

"That's about all you can do and then the rest get scraps," Nutt said.

Alex Mortensen has been the second team quarterback throughout the fall and has been the second to enter games behind Johnson. Quarterback coach Roy Wittke would not reveal the man who got the majority of the snaps, either.

"You'll have to get that from the head man," Wittke said. "That's all I'm going to say."

Wittke would discuss the practice and the way things have been handled in meetings with what has likely been a demotion for Johnson as the starter.

"All of our quarterbacks have dealt with this situation fine," Wittke said. "All four responded extremely well as far as attitude and effort.

"Obviously, this is a visible position whether you like it or not and there are positives and negatives no matter what happens. You must be of strong mind to play the position. We've talked about that."

As far as the negative side to the equation, Wittke said, "We are trying to do our best to guard against that."

Wittke did confirm that all of the quarterbacks "took snaps and all of them took repetitions" on Tuesday. Asked by several reporters to whisper the name of the first teamer in their ear, Wittke smiled, then said, "Matt Jones."

Asked if it was time for a change after Johnson's performance in the last two conference games versus Alabama and Auburn, Wittke said, "No question, Robert struggled. The quarterback is going to be the first one to come under scrutiny. It's the nature of the position. The bottom line is that we haven't scored enough and we haven't won enough. We have to play the guy who gives us the best chance to do both of those.

"I told the quarterbacks in the meeting today that it's not an easy situation, but that we were all in this thing together. It's been a tough decision. A lot of talk has gone into this decision. There has been a tremendous amount of evaluation and discussion as a staff. We have to do whatever we think is right for the team."

None of the quarterbacks were available for interviews Tuesday and will be "off limits" for reporters throughout the week, according to UA sports information director Kevin Trainor. Other position players declined to discuss the quarterback situation, too.

Tuesday is the day defensive coordinator Reggie Herring meets with the media. After mentioning that Auburn had played a "Merry Christmas schedule" last Tuesday, Herring had nothing but the highest praise for the Bulldogs.

The biggest news from Herring was his relationship with Georgia coach Mark Richt, the man who calls the Georgia plays. Both played football at Florida State. Herring was Richt's host when the Georgia coach made his on campus visit to Florida State.

"We go back a long way," Herring said. "My wife and I showed Mark around campus on his visit. She wasn't my wife then, we were dating. We picked Mark up and showed him around."

Herring has matched wits with Richt many times on the playing field. Most of those came when Herring was coaching at Clemson and Richt was calling plays for Bobby Bowden at Florida State.

"He's running the same plays he ran at Florida State and the players he has now look a lot the same as those he had there," Herring said. "They are very talented and they are playing very well with a lot of confidence."

Herring's praise for Georgia quarterback D. J. Shockley was extremely high.

"We hoped that when we saw film of him that we might see someone that was inconsistent and struggling with the passing game, but instead we saw someone that was very, very, very poised and very good in the passing game," Herring said. "He has poise in the pocket. He is extremely accurate. He throws on time and is confident. He has very good wide receivers with very good hands. If you do happen to cover them, then he makes good decisions, pulls the ball downs and takes off. He's displayed great touch with the deep ball. They have great wide receivers and the tight end is a big threat, too. They have great running backs."

Does Herring fear that Georgia will line up and assault the Hogs the way Auburn did in the second half last week?

"You don't know how things are going to go, but that's not the way Mark likes to play," Herring said. "That's not to say they can't play that way. But what they like to do is throw on first down and set up the run with the pass. They will hit you with the draws and play-action, but they do a nice job of keeping you off balance by throwing on first down.

"Each game is different. You get into a game and see how people are playing you and things develop from there. You don't know what it's going to be like. I will say that they have very good running backs. If they wanted to run it a little more, you'd hear more about them. They have very, very good balance and can run the ball if that's what they want to do."

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