Thursday Grid Update, 10/27

The Hogs didn't get their usual scrimmage work for redshirts, freshmen and walkons, but they still got a lot accomplished in their open week.

Arkansas put the wraps on practices for the week with a 75-minute workout in sweats and shoulder shell pads on Thursday. Houston Nutt said it was a good week with improvement on several fronts as the Hogs used an open week to get better.

It was a skeleton coaching staff as Nutt sent many of the assistants to the road for recruiting. The coaches joining the head coach at the workout was quarterback coach Roy Wittke, running backs coach Danny Nutt and defensive coordinator Reggie Herring.

Nutt said that all four quarterbacks got repetitions this week in practice and all improved. He declined to say which ones worked primarily with the first team or whether or not that he'd trim the quartet to two by Sunday when the Hogs return to the practice field. The team has both Friday and Saturday off because of the open week.

Arkansas meets South Carolina at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 5 in the Homecoming game at Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The game will be televised by Jefferson-Pilot.

"We had good practices this week, good focus," Nutt said. "We had a good practice today on a beautiful day. We had a lot of coaches gone to be on the road in high schools for two days and to see games Friday night.

"We asked them to improve each day and for the most part it was a week of unusually good practices. Like we told you, we didn't scrimmage the young players as planned, but we are little too beat up and we wanted to have our scout team healthy.

"The attitude this week has been good. The way we played last Saturday gave us a good injection (of enthusiasm). It tells them that when they play right, good things can happen. We still have to eliminate penalties and then more good things can happen when everyone does right. It's still a disappointment that final line -- you want to win.

"I think you see some confidence starting to build on what is being called in the huddle. They are playing faster. When you have confidence, you do play faster. When you know what to do, you have confidence and play faster."

Asked about whether players that still had their redshirt intact would play in the final four games, Nutt said, "We want to win now. As much as you want to redshirt someone, we want to put the best players on the field."

Nutt said the Hogs looked hard at the punt return specialist after Peyton Hillis fumbled away a kick against Georgia.

"We are looking at Peyton Hillis, Reggie Fish and Michael Coe," Nutt said. "We are disappointed in that area in the last game. We lost too many yards there. Reggie Fish hasn't dropped any punts in several weeks. We looked at Peyton hard this week. He didn't drop any this week in practice and we want to see what he will do again next week in practice. He caught them so far this week."

Running back coach Danny Nutt said freshman tailbacks Darren McFadden and Felix Jones continue to look good in practice. Both practiced well in the open date.

"They have their heads on right, but it's still tough when everyone is telling you how good you are," Danny Nutt said. "Both of them are playing and working hard.

"What I like is the way they study film and how hard they are blocking, too. They seem to compete against each other in all areas.

"I know they have good speed, but I think they hold their speed well with their pads on. When they get on the field, they seem faster. They play very fast.

"They have great vision and have true breakaway speed. They are hard workers and have been raised right. Their mommas and daddies taught them right."

McFadden averages 7.9 yards per run and Jones is close behind at 7.1 yards per run. That's quite a bit better than the 5.0 average by SEC rushing leader Joseph Addai.

"I don't know if we've ever had someone average that much a carry, dating all the way back to when we were at Murray State," Danny Nutt said. "If we did, it wasn't two tailbacks. Maybe just one. That's two high averages per carry."

They are good friends on and off the field, Danny Nutt said.

"They are around each other and they like each other," Nutt said. "They are very good buddies. They feed off each other. They are always doing something together -- playing catch with the football after we are done."

Nutt sees a lot of similarities. He watched them both play high school basketball and noticed similarities there, too.

"Great, great athletes on the basketball court," he said. "They weren't naturally gifted shooters, but they could run and jump. They could go get the ball with great hands. Darren played forward and Felix played the off guard, but both could and did go inside.

"I compare them to my triplet (daughters). They compete and are going to be together in everything they do. The triplets are something to watch. If one of them gets up on the couch with me, the other two want to know if they can do it, too, and why not if they can't. That's true competition. These guys are like that, too, and close just like my triplets. They do compete and feed off each other like my daughters do. They could be brothers."


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