Thursday Grid Report, 10/20

Georgia native and reserve Arkansas cornerback Michael Grant and his teammates put in a Thursday practice as he hopes to walk into Georgia with the Razorbacks this weekend and pull off a shocker.

Arkansas coach Houston Nutt confirmed that all four quarterbacks are traveling to Georgia this weekend and that all four could play. Nutt would not reveal the starter.

"I'll tell them Saturday morning," Nutt said. "I'm just not going to give Georgia an advantage by saying now."

Asked if the players themselves know, Nutt declined to comment. Asked if he knew, Nutt continued to be evasive despite repeated questions from some members of the media.

Quarterback coach Roy Wittke wouldn't reveal the starter, either. He said "the head man" would have to answer those questions. Wittke said the four quarterbacks on the trip would be Robert Johnson, Alex Mortensen, Cole Barthel and Casey Dick.

Asked if he had ever pulled the redshirt this late in a season, Wittke said he thinks he did in 1994 when a true freshman burned his redshirt for the final four or five games when he coached at Eastern Illinois.

"So that would be a similar situation," Wittke said regarding questions on taking the redshirt off of true freshman Casey Dick.

There was speculation that the Hogs were turning to redshirt freshman Alex Mortensen earlier this week, then rumors that Casey Dick was the man the Hogs would play instead of Robert Johnson, the starter for the first six games. It appears that Johnson is back in the mix and may be the likely starter.

Neither players or coaches would confirm that Thursday. Nutt would only say that he did not want to give any advantage to Georgia by naming the starter. The official depth chart released by the UA for game notes to be handed out in the press box listed the starter as Robert Johnson or Alex Mortensen.

Nutt said he could say that the Hogs were going to pull the redshirt on true freshman Antwain Robinson to provide depth at defensive end where the Hogs are also listing Jamal Anderson, Desmond Sims, Zach Snider and Michael Tate. Tate was returned to defensive end earlier this week when it was learned starter Anthony Brown was lost for the season.

"Tate is in the rotation at defensive end," Nutt said. "So is Robinson. He's going to have to play."

Nutt would not predict whether Fred Bledsoe and Jeremy Harrell, moved from defensive line to offensive line this week, would play this week. The Hogs may be without backup guard Chase Pressley because of a shoulder injury and Roper is slowed by a sore knee. Jonathan Luigs, the starter at right guard, is also the backup center.

"Depends on Kyle Roper," Nutt said on the status of Bledsoe and Harrell in the offensive line. "They could play. They know a couple of plays. The rest would be a matter of the guys on either side of them passing it down (as far as assignments) and try to help them. But we may have to play them. They do know some things. It's a scary thing if we don't have Roper."

Nutt said it was a good week of practice for the offense considering the shakeup at quarterback throughout the week.

"I think it makes them all accountable across all 11 positions," Nutt said. "It's given everyone a wakeup call. You have to understand that every player has to focus and be accountable.

"I will say that the team has practiced very fast. We've had great concentration and focus.

"What I want to see Saturday is to come out of the gates playing our kind of football, not giving them anything, getting some turnovers and making something happen in the kicking game. We can't give them gifts. Georgia is the best in our conference in turnover ratio. They are already plus nine. We've got to limit our turnovers and get some from them."

Not many people expect the University of Arkansas to go into Sanford Stadium on Saturday and walk out with a win over No. 4 and undefeated Georgia.

But just in case lightning strikes, current Razorback cornerback and Georgia native Michael Grant (5-11, 185, 4.37) and his teammates continuing practicing for the chance to pull off the upset.

"It's a big game for us, like all of them are," Grant said. "We don't go in there expecting to lose. We go in there trying to play a great game, have a few things go our way and walk out of their with a win. That's why you play the game."

This game has a little more meaning than most to Grant, who actually signed with Georgia out of high school and spent a summer there working out before coming to Arkansas and who has 13 tackles, one interception and three pass break ups as a reserve corner this season.

"I try to be ready to play every game, but certainly this is one I really get up for because it's about bragging rights when you go back home," Grant said. "They came in here and beat us last year (20-14), but we really played them tough and put a scare into them."

Grant has certainly done his part in making sure his family and friends can see the game by rounding up tickets from teammates for the 11:30 a.m. game between the Razorbacks (2-4, 0-3) and the Bulldogs (6-0, 4-0).

"I started kind of early," Grant said. "Some of the guys had a problem getting tickets, but I always start early. I'm good."

Grant signed with Georgia, but ended up not being admitted because of an incident his sophomore year at South Gwinnett High and landing at Arkansas instead after Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt reached out to UA Head coach Houston Nutt on Grant's behalf.

He admits he wasn't sure when he first got off the plane at the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport to make the short car trip to Fayetteville.

"When I came off the airplane, I was a little scared because of how everything looked with the cows and everything," Grant said. "But after you got away from the airport and closer to the campus, I saw what a happening and modern place it really is and how it was more city-like."

"They had great facilities, much better than I expected and that really got me pumped," Grant said. "The fact that they had an Indoor Track and that mean you would never miss a workout was important as well."

So the then 18-year-old Grant closed one chapter of his life and opened another.

"I look back it now as if it was something that was destined to happen," Grant said. "In the end, I couldn't be happier to be a part of this school's track and football programs. I love being up here and I think I have truly grown up a lot."

Grant was an instant contributor on both the football and track teams last season.

He played in all 11 football last season games as a true freshman while making 29 tackles last season for the gridiron Razorbacks.

Grant then moved on over to track where he was a part of two national championship teams and was the first UA two-sport star since Clyde Scott (1948) to win a national event title as he was part of the 4 x 100 squad at the 2005 NCAA Outdoor Championships.

"It was very thrilling to be a part of," Grant said.

Arkansas' secondary got lit up earlier this year in the fourth quarter of a home loss to Vanderbilt and then a 70-17 rout at No. 1 USC.

"I think I am a lot better than I was last yea at this time," Grant said. "As a whole, the secondary is playing a lot better her lately than we were at the begging of the season. I just think it took us getting used to the system."

While it seems like a game that would be tough to win, Grant says it's just life in the SEC and you deal with it and go out and plan to win.

"With the schedule we've got almost every game that we play is hard," Grant said. "But we just take it game-by-game. I do think we are getting better every game. We'll be ready this game."


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