Spring Grid Excitement Builds

Winter conditioning drills are winding down and spring drills are just around the corner for the Arkansas football team.

Houston Nutt met with the media at today's announcement by Rick Schaeffer on the details of the Razorfest, the events surrounding the spring game set for April 15 in Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Spring drills begin in 12 days.

Nutt said practices have gone extremely well with some players stepping up. The early-morning offseason workouts conclude with workouts the next two days.

"There are still some young ones, some redshirts, that may not understand the level that they need to be at when we start spring ball in a few days, but I think the workouts are going very, very well,"said Houston Nutt, the UA head football coach.

"Those guys haven't played and they don't know what it's like just yet. We are a very physical team. We are one of the toughest teams in America. They better get ready and be ready every day because practices are about to start."

Nutt said the early-morning workouts have not been perfect, but they have been good.

"I tell you one thing, we are getting a lot out of most of them," Nutt said. "And, we've found some new players, I think."

Asked about finding new players, Nutt said, "I mean some new ones, one walkon in particular has caught our eyes. Andrew Davie is an offensive linemen and he's winning every race at every station."

Nutt said the redshirt freshman from Central Arkansas Christian is an older player who first tried his hand at professional baseball before coming out for football last fall. Nutt said the 6-4, 285-pounder is lining up at left offensive tackle at this time.

"I know he played some baseball out of high school and is an older guy," Nutt said. "He's sure been someone the coaches have noticed. He wins everything. He's big and fast."

Nutt also praised defensive tackle Fred Bledsoe, going through his second offseason.

"He's made it through everything, every drill," Nutt said of Bledsoe. "He's not stepped out of one thing. Fred is not there yet, but he's so far ahead of where he's been since coming here. He's made improvement."

Defensive line coach Tracy Rocker wasn't ready to say too much about Bledsoe just yet, noting he hasn't seen him with pads on in real practices.

"Let me see him do it right out here," Rocker said, pointing to the stadium. "I want to see him out here. I've seen some others do it on the field. I haven't seen Fred out here stay in it. I will say he's well under 300 and he's doing what we've asked right now. The good news is that Fred is still out here working."

Nutt praised redshirt freshmen Dallas Washington and Desmond Williams as making strides, too.

"These two haven't really played, but they are getting better," Nutt said. "They are showing that they will work."

Nutt also praised some returning playmakers like Peyton Hillis, Felix Jones, Chris Houston, Sam Olajubutu and Desmond Sims. Others drawing praise from the head man for increasing their speed and strength were Marcus Harrison, Keith Jackson, Zach Snider, Antwain Robinson and Michael Hall. He said both Robinson and Hall were measured with vertical jumps above 35 inches.

"Those guys are really doing well," Nutt said. "And, you have to love what Anthony Brown has done. He's up to 236 and looks really good. He's moving really well, too. He's healthy and going good.

"Of the others that were injured, Zac Tubbs has been good. He's at 331 right now and maintaining that weight. He had that long Christmas break and came back at a good weight and that's a good sign."

Nutt said there are some final meetings among coaches to wrap up plans for spring drills, but he said most of the playbook is ready after much visiting between holdover coaches and new offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn and quarterback coach Alex Woods.

"I've been involved with the meetings," Nutt said. "Gus runs them. He sets the agenda and has done a great job. He and Alex have taken the best of what we do and added it to what he does."

Nutt said that most of his playbook was retained since much of it was also in what Malzahn ran at Springdale.

"We had the four vertical stuff, we just needed the players to run it," Nutt said. "He was already doing some of what we did in the running game, the power stuff and the counter package. He wants to keep that."

Nutt said that Malzahn and Woods decided to keep the UA terminology and adapt their plays to the old system.

"Gus said it didn't make sense to try to teach his terminology to so many older players, so he learned what we call it," Nutt said. "Of course, we added his stuff to it and we settled on some names for that so that it fits well."

Nutt said the winter preparations began with loads of film review attended by the offensive staff.

"We sat in the film room and went through all of last season," Nutt said. "We watched every game together. That way Gus and Alex could both understand our philosophy.

"Then, we watched Springdale film. We went over what we would call the new routes. Everyone understands the system. It all went very well. I will say that there were no egos in the room. Everyone worked well together.

"I'm telling you it was outstanding, both with Gus and Alex. There was a lot that Alex brought to the table. He has called plays and coordinated at the highest level. He was able to help when it came to putting things together, pairing up plays that seem to work well together in the system we were going for and was a big help with Gus. We got a lot accomplished. I feel very good."

Nutt said the excitement he's felt from speaking at Razorback Club meetings has been intense.

"I know we have a lot of people that are interested in seeing the spring game on April 15," Nutt said. "The good news is that we have enough offensive linemen, more than we've had, to play it more like a real game. That excites me. I think people are going to see a little more than in the past, more what they expect as far as close to game conditions.

"I don't think there has ever been this much excitement for a spring game since I've been here. There is a lot of anticipation. Some of it comes from our new coaches and some of it comes from the players we signed."

Nutt said he's spent more time in the defensive film room this winter than ever before.

"I'll say this, you knew what to expect from those meeting rooms with Reggie Herring," Nutt said. "There is no gray area with Reggie. He is sure of what he wants from the coaches to the players. He's all ball coach and has no other hobbies. It's all football all of the time."

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