Tuesday Grid Update, 10/25

The pads came off on Tuesday as the Hogs began practice on the open date week.

Thoughts on who was taking snaps with the first team were kept away from the media on Tuesday after the Arkansas football team began an open week with a 90-minute workout in sweat clothes and shell shoulder pads. The Hogs did not practice on Monday.

"We had a good practice today," said Arkansas coach Houston Nutt. "All four (quarterbacks) got work in individual drills and then we zeroed in after that. They all got some good work.

"We had a lot of throwing and catching. We emphasized execution on our play-action, carrying out fakes and getting the timing right and more precision on routes. We added a couple of new wrinkles that will help them. They all got better."

Quarterback coach Roy Wittke, the passing game coordinator, said the Hogs focused on improving the passing game.

"But we are focusing on taking it one day at a time," he said. "It's an open week and you have a little more time to focus on fundamentals and an opportunity to get more reps for everyone. We are going to continue to work, compete and try to improve our passing game.

"There are some things we are doing good things with, but the bottom line is that we must get better at quarterback. We have to improve and play better in games."

Nutt said the Hogs did not don full pads because of the number of injuries, some of them nagging injuries that just needed a day of rest. Tight end Mason Templeton, center Kyle Roper, linebacker Weston Dacus and linebacker Clarke Moore all took it easy Tuesday with sore knees.

There was one positive development on the injury front. Freshman running back Michael Smith, out since a knee injury on the first day of contact in August, returned to practice. He will continue to redshirt, but he did practice at full speed.

"He looked fast and quick," Nutt said. "It was good to have him back. He worked with the scout team."

"We may scrimmage some with the younger players on Wednesday," Nutt said. "Today, we wanted to focus on the film and correct our mistakes.

"There were some key mistakes in the red zone ... penalties and missed assignments ... that were critical and kept us from scoring more points. If we play with all 11 carrying out assignments, there is no question that we get quite a few more points (against Georgia). We focused on those mistakes today.

"We got better in Athens. We got some turnovers from our defense, but we didn't take advantage of them. But it was something to build off of."

Asked about the lack of passes to wide receiver Marcus Monk, Nutt said, "We want to do so much better in that area. We will, too. People are doubling up on him, but we are going to get him the ball more. He's a class individual and has handled what has happened there well, but we need to get him the ball and we are going to do that."

Center Kyle Roper said the attitude of the team is up beat despite going winless in the SEC.

"We know we are getting closer and we know one or two plays a game have been the difference," Roper said. "We just have to stick together. This is a week to get some guys healthy. That's what it will be for me."

Roper had trouble with muscle cramps in the same leg that has the knee injury.

"It's a sprain to the medial collateral ligament," he said. "I started cramping in the second half. I had to lean against another player in the huddle to take the weight off of it in the second half. That's a first for me. Never had to do that ever before. But I wasn't going to come out. That was an awesome experience to play in that stadium. I had 20 members of my family there and it was a big game for me.

"We are just going to keep working. We know we have stopped ourselves and we are going to work to correct our mistakes and keep going hard. We played hard Saturday."

Defensive coordinator Reggie Herring said it was clear after watching the film that many members on his side of the ball played hard. Still, the defense ended Tuesday's practice with a long series of up-downs.

"We are improving each week," Herring said. "I didn't want to talk about individual players after the game until I saw the film. You guys wanted to ask me about Jamal Anderson and I didn't want to talk about anything except how the team played as one unit. That is so important and why I emphasized that after the game. It's important that we did play as one unit in that game.

"But it was obvious that Jamal Anderson did play very well. Looking at the film, he did play outstanding. But what I thought was true, too. We played as a unit very well except for one play, the long pass just before halftime. That was our one bad play. Except for that play, I was very proud of the way we played and the effort. That was without a doubt our best team effort.

"We don't have any great individual players. We have to play as a unit. We did Saturday and I'm proud of them."

Asked about the play just before half, Herring said, "We were in our safest coverage against the deep ball. We were playing quarters, or four deep people with a big cushion. We had 15-yard cushions. We lost our cushion. We were ready for four deep routes and they came out in two tights and kept them in for max protection. That gave us double coverage on the outside. We kept our cushion on one side and lost it on the other side. That's what happened on that play."


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