Arkansas Focuses On Ole Miss

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas got another favorable report card from coach Houston Nutt following Tuesday's practice.

The Razorbacks practiced for about 90 minutes afternoon as they prepared for their road game against Ole Miss at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Arkansas is 2-6 overall, 0-5 in the Southeastern Conference. Ole Miss, still with bowl hopes, is 3-5, 1-4.

Essentially, Nutt said his team worked on correcting mistakes and improving fundamentals.

"We came out and practiced real hard today," Nutt said. "I'm real pleased with their attitude. In this man's game it's hard when things aren't going just right and you appreciate the guys coming out to work hard and trying to get better and correct those little things that will make a difference in the ball game."

Mostly, Arkansas concentrated on different short-yardage situations.

"Today we stressed hanging on to the block, stepping right and hitting the hole with authority and being able to get that yard that's been lacking," Nutt said. "That's basically it."

Nutt said his team will be facing another test against a tough defense. That defense is led by junior linebacker Patrick Willis, who leads the SEC in tackles with 90 and averages 12.9 tackles per game.

"This defense is probably one of the best we've seen so far," Nutt said. "You can see why when you look at (McKinley) Boykin, (Jayme) Mitchell and (Michael) Bozman. They are familiar names and it seems like they've been there forever. Their linebackers look big and strong.

"Patrick Willis and those guys are very physical. This is a tough team that hasn't given up very many points."

In The Trenches
Pay close attention to the Arkansas offensive line this week. There could be some changes.

On Tuesday, redshirt freshman Jonathan Luigs and junior Jeremy Harrell, a converted defensive tackle, were given more snaps, because senior center Kyle Roper and junior offensive guard Stephen Parker have been banged up over the past couple weeks.

Nutt said he is trying to let them rest.

"Kyle Roper and Stephen Parker are really beat up right now," Nutt said. "They're fighting through it, but Jeremy Harrell is stepping up.

"Jonathan Luigs has been a swing guy for us all year long, so we moved him to center. If something were to happen, then Jeremy Harrell would have to go (in place of Parker).

"I think Kyle and Stephen will be there by Saturday, but you don't know how full speed they will be."

Did You Know?
Arkansas freshman quarterback Casey Dick worked at a fireworks stand during the summer months in junior high and high school.

"Yeah, I did," he said. "I worked there, probably for about four years. My brother and I both did.

"The last year I worked there was going into my senior year of high school."

Dick played his high school football in Allen, Texas, but lives in Lucas. He worked in nearby Branch, only a long forward pass from his home.

"I worked near the Branch store," he said. "The fireworks stand is right there, right before you get to the mile-long bridge.

"If you know where that is."

Guess, you have to be from Texas.

Dick started his first college game in a 14-10 loss against South Carolina last Saturday in Reynolds Stadium.

Nutt said he's still the No. 1 quarterback.

"Oh, he's just getting better and better, with everything," Nutt said. "From the huddle, to the line of scrimmage. Seeing things, throwing better.

"More confident."

Youth Movement?
Sophomore Matterral Richardson, true freshmen Marcus Shavers, also from Allen, Texas, and true freshman Elston Forte could see a lot more playing time on defense this weekend.

Richardson is penciled in to start at cornerback instead of Michael Coe. Shavers, a defensive tackle, has been moved to defensive end because it's not sure if Zach Snider will be able to play.

Although junior Randy Kelly is scheduled to start at strong safety, Forte could get a lot of playing.

Many Happy Returns?
Nutt said Peyton Hillis, Reggie Fish and Felix Jones all worked on returning punts again.

"Peyton Hillis looked good today, feels much better," Nutt said. "Right now, we'll go back to Peyton the rest of the week, see how that goes. Felix is coming on. There's the guy, who really could do it.

"He's truly a difference maker."

Hold The Praise
Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring was careful not to single out any individual on his defense, despite the fact it's gotten much, much better since the start of the season, and especially since a 70-17 loss against two-time defending national champion Southern California.

"The one thing I say about the group, as a whole, is they have developed a sense of toughness since we challenged them," Herring said. "They did slip against Auburn, but they do seem to be trying to be tougher and more physical.

"Look, all this could go down the drain. There's no way ... we've got three games left and Ole Miss ... we're not in any situation to be thinking cozy.

"It's day-day-to-day. It's game-to-game. You've got to keep the thumb down and keep it going.

"You can never relax around here. Really, to brag on anybody right now would be foolish because it could all wind up back in our lap.

"We'll just say they are all trying."

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