Hogs Shift Focus To Eliminating Mistakes

FAYETTEVILLE -- Clearly, the presumed quarterback mystery at Arkansas still is on the minds of many.

But, it was not the focal point following Wednesday's practice.

Arkansas practiced again in shorts and shells for almost two hours.

Main focus? Eliminating mistakes and concentrating on getting better during this bye week.

Arkansas (2-5 overall, 0-4 in the Southeastern Conference) returns to action at 11:30 a.m. Nov. 5 against South Carolina (4-3, 2-3) in Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

"We didn't start out the right way at practice, but I think we finished better," said Arkansas coach Houston Nutt. "One thing about an open week is some times they start looking down the road and they know there's not a ballgame, but we have to come to practice every single day. That was the point of emphasis and we started a couple periods back over.

"We ended it right, though.

"In the middle we got sloppy, started some plays over."

Sloppy?

"Well, you know, things we're pointing out," Nutt said. "You can't have illegal procedures to stop a drive. You can't miss a block.

"We still had some. It's a 60-minute game and we have to learn how to finish."

Nutt said all four quarterbacks -- Robert Johnson, Alex Mortensen, Cole Barthel and Casey Dick -- continued to work and were put in different game situations.

"The quarterback didn't start out as well, but they finished up good," Nutt said. "We did one-on-one pass drills and put them in third-and-eight situations with people coming on different blitzes.

"They did a good job for the most part."

Keeping Up With Jones
With all the hoopla surrounding freshman tailback Darren McFadden, folks are forgetting about freshman tailback Felix Jones.

Arkansas sure hasn't, especially McFadden, who said it's nice to not be alone in shouldering the load.

"He's a great counterpart to have," said McFadden, who has won the last two SEC Freshman of the Week honors. "When I come out of the game, I always know I can count on him to come in with the same fire and the same ability to break one. It's all about trusting each other."

Jones leads the team and is second in the SEC with 134.1 all-purpose yards per game. He's getting a healthy chunk of that returning kickoffs as he's second in the SEC and 12th nationally with 29.0 yards-per-return. The leader is Auburn's Devin Aromashodu, who averages 29.1 yards per kick return.

"I just try to get as many yards as I can because it helps our offense," Jones said. "Returning kicks is not easy. You've got people flying down field and all around you like bullets. The game is a lot faster and you've got to look out.

"If you get hit by one of them, it's going to be lights out."

Besides rushing for 7.1 yards per carry and 62 yards per game off the bench, Jones is getting more involved with the Razorbacks' passing game. He caught three screens for 43 yards in Saturday's 23-20 loss at No. 4 Georgia.

"Anything to help the team, I'm willing to do it," Jones said. "They can pass me the ball or hand the ball off to me. I'm just happy to get the ball, regardless of how I get it."

Murphy's Romance
Hogs tight end Wes Murphy wanted his first reception so badly, he didn't mind bending over backwards -- literally -- to catch it. His 17-yarder against Georgia resulted in a first down.

"I was very excited," Murphy said. "We were down and I felt like it was time for me to step up and make a big play for my team. The ball was thrown to me, so I made the catch."

The ball wasn't thrown perfectly to Murphy. It actually was behind him. He had to stop in his tracks and dive backwards to haul it in.

"I didn't care," Murphy said. "I made up my mind that if it was anywhere in my vicinity, I was going to catch it."

Defense A Positive

Nutt said the defense had an excellent effort on Wednesday, and the strong leadership skills of linebackers Pierre Brown and Sam Olajubutu were noticeable.

Olajubutu is the team's leading tackler with 85 stops, including 48 unassisted and nine for loss. Brown is third with 47 tackles and 2 for a total of four yards lost.

"The defense really ran around at the end of practice and they looked good," Nutt said. "Pierre Brown and Sam Olajubutu gave some good leadership. For our defense we want to keep building off that.

"There were some positive things, but we want to be consistent."

A Familiar Foe
Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring said he'll have a different view of South Carolina when it plays against Arkansas next weekend.

It probably was a lot different when Herring served as the linebackers coach at Clemson (1994-96) and defensive coordinator/linebackers coach (1997-2001).

In the state of South Carolina, Clemson-South Carolina is an all-out war when those teams meet.

So, what's Herring's take on South Carolina now?

"Right now, every game is different, every team's different," Herring said. "Right now, where we are we have a different story, different situation.

"This program's different and we're battling different issues. We're just going to put all our attention on this and try and get this thing won."

Impressive Numbers
Razorbacks junior cornerback Michael Coe quietly is having a productive season in the secondary.

Coe leads Arkansas with 3 interceptions. As a team, the Hogs have picked off seven passes.

On those 3 interceptions, Coe has returned them for 25 yards for an 8.3 average. His long return is 16 yards.

In addition, Coe has 27 tackles this season, including 21 solo stops.

MORNING NEWS SPORTS WRITER MIKE CAPSHAW ALSO CONTRIBUTED TO THIS REPORT


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