Thursday Grid Report, 3/30

Arkansas straps on the full pads Thursday and starts hitting, beginning with a middle drill and ending the day with some 40 plays of live action.

For the first time this spring, full pads were popping at a University of Arkansas football practice.

It was music to the ears of the players, coaches and fans on hand. The practice got underway with a middle drill and was capped off with 40 snaps of live work at the end of the third workout of the 15 that the Razorbacks are allowed.

"We put those pads on today and got a lot of things done," UA head coach Houston Nutt said. "We got a little bit of taste of it with some live work... They are playing fast, playing hard, I I loved their attitude, loved their effort, but now they have got to come back out here tomorrow and do it all over again in full pads. They are going to be a little sore."

The workout was held indoors at the Walker Pavilion because of the threat of rain and was attended by UA signees Mitch Mustain and Ben Cleveland of Springdale.

The defense appeared to get the best of the offense during the late practice work, but Nutt saw enough on both offense and defense to both please him and make him remember why they have spring practice anyway.

There were a a few big runs by tailbacks Darren McFadden, Felix Jones and Michael Smith as well as the quarterbacks hooking up with wideouts Cedric Logan, Marcus Monk and John Aaron Rees.

"There are some things on both sides of the ball that looked good at times - real good couple of runs when we got 11 people doing it the right way," Nutt said. "There were a couple of long balls that were caught very well.

"Defensively, when they played fast and played hard and everybody took care of their responsibilities and took care of their job, we looked good," Nutt added. "Still we made too many mistakes, but again that is why we are having spring practice.

The Razorbacks continued to implement new plays into their offensive mix.

"I don't know that I learned a lot about either one of them, but I know they we have a lot of work to do and we are growing offensively," Nutt said. "We have a little bit further to go. The defense is a little further ahead which we expected."

Starting quarterback Casey Dick said after practice it is a joy to get the ball to his backs in the passing game.

"I think that is going to be such a big weapon for us this season," Dick said. "I'm just getting the ball to them and watching them make great plays."

Monk made a brilliant catch in triple coverage, a play on which he came up a little lame.

"Marcus Monk had a little tweak of a pulled groin," Nutt said. "You are probably exerting a little bit more energy, especially at the wideout spot because they are so excited. They have got to be careful and take care of themselves."

Monk will be eased back into practice after being eased out of it on Thursday.

"We started limiting him a little today because we want him out here 15 days where he doesn't miss anything.," Nutt said. "Hopefully he will get back to 100 percent. It is not real bad, but he tweaked it enough that it could have gotten worse."

Nutt praised Logan, Rees and defenders Freddie Fairchild (who picked off a pass), Randy Kelly and Anthony Brown.

"They got my eye today," Nutt said. "They made plays. Randy Kelly hit a blitz full speed, timed it up just right, boom - sack. Anthony Brown while chasing the ball has tremendous lateral quickness, reacts to the run and then goes and chases down the quarterback.

"John Aaron Rees made a couple of good plays and got a few more reps today since Monk and a couple of these other guys were sore," Nutt continued.

Nutt also thought Logan and Chris Baker both showed improvement made in a 24-hour period.

"Cedric Logan and Chris Baker have both made tremendous strides the last day - from yesterday to today," Nutt said. "In catching the ball, being more physical, on their route running there is a lot more crispness, wanting to create separation."

The Razorbacks wideout are getting a lot of aggressive defense played against them.

"The one thing about our cornerbacks is, boy, they are in your face from the moment you walk out here," Nutt said. "They are very physical."

The Razorbacks would go through another workout on Friday before holding a scrimmage on Saturday morning.


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