University of Arkansas sophomore defensive tackle Marcus Harrison was wondering before practice Sunday what type of mentality and effort he might see from the Razorbacks during workouts this week.
After all, Arkansas (2-6, 0-5) lost any chance it had to go to a bowl when it fell 14-10 to visiting South Carolina the day before at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
"What I found out is that we were all going to come back to work and while we may not make it to a bowl this year, we are just looking toward next year but trying to do that by finishing strong this year," Harrison said. "Right now, it is looking pretty good as far as the defense goes. We are gelling together now like we were suppose to. It's actually been quite fun this week with a lot of noise and a lot of effort. There's been no quitting here."
That's no surprise since defensive coordinator Reggie Herring would accept nothing less according to Harrison (6-3, 300), the former Little Rock Mills standout who went to Hargrave Military Academy a season before matriculating to Fayetteville.
"Coach Herring always ups his intensity and you have got to be ready to match it," Harrison said. "There is not a question of whether you want to do that or not. You have to. Practice is still fun, everybody is giving it everything they've got and not laying down."
That intensity continued on Thursday when Arkansas finished up its on-campus workouts for Saturday's non-televised game at Ole Miss (3-5, 1-4).
"We finished a good week of practice," Houston Nutt said. "We played loud music in Walker Pavilion the last 30 minutes to get Casey Dick ready for some road noise. He had to talk louder and he did fine. He's getting better each day. This was better than last week. He's gotten better every day this week.
"It looks like Kyle Roper and Stephen Parker will be able to play at this point in our offensive line. They rested, but they know it and we could take it off of them this week. I think they will be good by Saturday.
"Peyton Hillis will handle the punt returns. He's had a very good week, guys. Felix Jones would be next. He's getting better, too."
Harrison was solid at defensive end for the Razorbacks in his true freshman season with 31 tackles and became the first true freshman in 22 years at Arkansas to start his first game, but got moved inside when Herring arrived from North Carolina State.
He has has 29 tackles this season with four for losses (including one sack) as well as eight quarterback hurries.
It's been a tough transition inside for Harrison, but he has been helped by defensive line coach and former Auburn defensive tackle and Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award winner Tracy Rocker.
"You get beat up pretty good inside," Harrison said. "You have got to play the gaps more because that is mostly where the ball is going to be coming. The transition has been hard, but I have been dealing with it because of Coach Rocker. He helps me out every day and he has played there so he knows what I am going through."
Like all the Arkansas defenders, Harrison was ashamed of his unit's effort in a 70-17 loss at two-time defending national champ USC back in the second game of the season.
"It was just an embarrassment for the whole Arkansas program and the SEC," Harrison said. "We just had to come out and get better because we know we were better than that. Some guys came out not ready to play.
"Hats off to USC - they are that good," Harrison said. "But I think we could have and should have played better than we did."
But Harrison says that he takes great pride in the effort, intensity, results and pride the defense has shown since that loss and it was clearly there while holding South Carolina and Steve Spurrier to a season-low 187 yards and a season-low 14 points.
"It (the intensity on defense) has been like so high," Harrison said. "Coach Herring - the great coach that he is - and the rest of the coaching staff. I think it was before the last bye week when they just picked it up. We were expecting something else and just trying to get through the week. We pretty much thought we knew what we were going to do, but Coach Herring just took it to another level."
Harrison is also taking great pride in the fact that he and other Little Rock products are becoming big parts of the Razorback team once again, especially on his side of the ball with guys like Elston Forte, Antwain Robinson, Jamaal Anderson, Keith Jackson and himself.
"They keep rolling in," Harrison said of the Central Arkansas natives. "Guys like Elston Forte and Antwain Robinson - who was taking his redshirt off but hasn't played yet - they are getting better everyday. And you have guys like me, Jamaal and Keith that are coming together every day and trying to do what we can do."
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