Monday Grid Update, 11/21

Here's a summary and notes from Arkansas football practice on Monday. The Hogs usually take Monday off, but because of the short week they hit the practice field on Monday.

Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring plans on using Friday's game at No. 3 LSU as a measuring stick.

The Razorbacks' defense has been superb the past three games, but those opponents have combined for 12-19 records. LSU is 9-1 overall and 6-1 in Southeastern Conference play. A win Friday would send the Tigers to the SEC title game as the Western Division champions.

"We're looking forward to seeing where we're at, regardless of the outcome of the game," Herring said. "As long as we play hard and are competitive and we play Razorback football, we'll let it lie where it lies."

Other than his usual blitz packages, Herring doesn't plan on doing anything differently to try to slow the Tigers' multiple offensive weapons. The Tigers are second in the SEC in scoring offense (31 points per game). They're led by quarterback JaMarcus Russell, a 6-foot-6, 252-pound sophomore who has thrown at least one touchdown pass a game during their eight-game winning streak.

"They've got the best talent in the conference," Herring said. "With Russell, you've got to try to fluster him a little bit. He can get out-of-synch at times. They're offense will go as he does throwing the ball. They have turned the ball over some, so we're hoping that we can maybe frustrate him enough to maybe get a couple of those turnovers. If we don't, it's going to be a long day.

"When he's in a rhythm and in a groove, they're pretty hard to stop."

Herring said Russell has "incredible" arm strength. He has completed 62.4 percent of his passes (164 of 263) for 2,130 yards with 14 touchdowns and six interceptions. Four receivers have caught 20 passes or more, but Russell's top target is Dwayne Bowe, who has 32 receptions for 567 yards and eight touchdowns.

LSU starts three seniors on an offensive line which has been opening up plenty of holes for tailbacks Joseph Addai and Justin Vincent. They're combining for more than 114 yards per game and are among the most dangerous one-two punches in the league.

"After facing (Southern California tailback Reggie) Bush, all these running backs are a bunch of scout teamers, so it doesn't matter," Herring said. "All their backs are good. The bottom line is we've faced good backs, we face them every day in practice.

"LSU's offense is a balanced offense. You can't go and try to stop any one thing. They're very balanced, run and throw. They spread the ball around. We've got to play almost a perfect game and hope that we can get to the quarterback and frustrate him a little bit."

Arkansas practiced for the first time this season on a Monday and the result was a sluggish start as several players continue to be sore from injuries.

"It's a real different week because there's no Monday (off), so we kind of had to wake them up a little bit," said Arkansas coach Houston Nutt. "We had to let them know that this was a practice day, but once we got going, it was pretty good.

"We just tried to raise the intensity up a little bit."

Senior Kyle Roper (knee) returned to practice after sitting out of Saturday's game. He worked at left guard, instead of center. That means Jonathan Luigs likely will start his third game at center and Jeremy Harrell will start his second straight game at right guard.

"(Roper's) not quite full speed, but he's a lot better than he has been," Nutt said. "It was good to see him out there."

Roper said his knee "felt real good" and added that the week off done wonders in the healing process.

With Luigs, a redshirt freshman, at center and true freshman Casey Dick at quarterback, the Hogs could have problems snapping the ball cleanly. Dick has bobbled only one exchange (but didn't lose the ball) from center in nearly 200 snaps over a three-game period.

LSU has caused problems for opponents on quarterback-center exchanges and Nutt believes it's due to the pressure up front by senior interior linemen Claude Wroten and Kyle Williams.

"They just create havoc," Nutt said. "They are on top of that center and it seems like they know the snap count of that center because they are pushing him back. There's been fumbles on quarterback-center exchanges because of those two guys.

"We've got to work on it and the last couple of weeks, we've been pretty good. We've just got to keep building off of that."

LSU is second in the SEC in total defense, surrendering 282.5 yards per game. The Tigers have forced 11 fumbles while recovering four.

Hogs defensive end Jamaal Anderson was named the SEC's Defensive Linemen of the Week for his performance in Saturday's 44-10 win against Mississippi State.

"It's an honor, but that was last week," Anderson said. "If I could trade that in for another win, so we could be in the situation we were in last year against LSU (still playing for a bowl), I would do it in a heartbeat."

Anderson, a sophomore from Little Rock, tied for the team lead with eight tackles including three for loss, two quarterback hurries, a sack and a forced fumble. He has recorded 8.5 tackles for loss in the past four games since taking over as a starter after a season-ending injury to Anthony Brown.

"He's going to be hard to get off the field now," Herring said. "He's proved that he's a very, very important part of the team. We're very proud of the way he's stepped in. He's done well and we just hope he continues one more week."

Overall, Dick was pleased with the outcome of his third start. He did see some room for improvement after studying the film of Saturday's win.

"I didn't make some good decisions throwing the ball," Dick said. "There was a couple of plays that if I threw the ball to a different person, we might have gotten a little bigger result.

"But if you look at it, they have a very good defense. Nobody has really blown them out. I don't think anyone had 41 (points) on them, especially in one half."

Dick was 12 of 23 passing for 124 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. In his three starts, Dick has completed 41 of 71 passes for 436 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions.

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