Friday Grid Report, 3/31

On a day when word comes that Arkansas will open its 2006 season by hosting USC on Sunday, Sept. 3, Casey Dick says he plans to be the one starting at quarterback against the Trojans. This Friday practice report includes several pictures from the workout.

Casey Dick has the keys to the new car and he really isn't of the mind to let anybody else drive.

In other words, he's the starting quarterback at the University of Arkansas and wants it to stay that way even if the nation's top prep quarterback will be on campus in the fall and he has a couple of returnees nipping at his heels.

That's what the sophomore-to-be plans to be when the Razorbacks open the season Sunday, Sept. 3 by hosting USC in a game that will be played at 6 p.m. - a time and date that was confirmed on Friday by UA officials.

"There's no doubt I want to be the guy and that's what I am working toward during spring practice," Dick said. "We've got a lot of guys who could be the starter, I want to be the one and will work hard to make that happen."

After finishing up a two-and-a-half hour practice on Friday, Dick and his teammates will be on display Saturday morning in a workout that will begin at 10 a.m. and feature a scrimmage at around 11.

"We are going to practice for an hour and then have some scrimmage," UA head coach Houston Nutt said. "We will have some different situations - red zone, 3rd-and-medium, 1st-and-10 and just try to keep playing the game and looking at these guys and try to keep getting better each day."

Friday's workout was the fourth of the 15 the NCAA allots college teams during the spring and was viewed by a large group of fans off to the sides of the practice fields.

"We are starting to get a little sore and we have got to learn to push through it," Nutt said. "We got a lot of good work done today. It was a beautiful day. I think a lot of people came right before the baseball game. We got some good fundamental work done today."

The defense got the best of the day, especially early as Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring's troops spent a lot of time in the backfield before the offensive line steadied itself.

"We haven't slowed down Reggie at all," Nutt said. "We are seeing fast, fast bullets, which we don't mind. I think they (the offensive line), when you look at tday from the first day, it's a little bit better. There are some things we still have to get corrected, but I love the way we have been moving.

"You can tell (offensive lineman Zac (Tubbs) has been away from the game for almost two years," Nutt added. "That hurts. But we'll get him caught back up and Nate Garner is also doing very, very well. You've got some depth at offfensive line, which really makes you feel good in the spring to be able to do what we are doing."

What they are doing in incorporating some new facets to the offense that were brought in by new offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn and quarterbacks coach Alex Wood, a former NFL coach.

The fact that Dick is getting a head start will no doubt help him in fending off Springdale phenom Mitch Mustain and others. He got confidence starting the last four games of 2005 and is getting his work in this spring with the Razorbacks' new offense with a lot more swagger than he had as a rookie."

"I have a lot more confidence," Dick said. "I came out here the first day with lot more confidence and the knowledge that I have done it before. Now it's just progressing every day and getting better every day and it's just a matter of getting timing and everything else and getting back to where you were."

After spending the first two days of practice in shorts, the Razorbacks have spent the last two days in full pads.

"It's been okay,' Dick said. "We made a couple of bad throws, getting used to it, but you just go back into the film room and study a little more to figure out where you make the mistake and just come out tomorrow and be better than you were today."

Dick said he is happy with the way the offense is learning its new scheme.

"We are happy with the progression," Dick said. "We have come a long way from where we started. We have learned a lot of different plays. "It's a matter of getting with the same guys and getting our timing down and finding out what guys are going to be together in this offense."

The fact that tailbacks Darren McFadden, Felix Jones and Michael Smith are being used more in the passing game is a win-win situation according to Dick.

"I think they are all fantastic receivers,' Dick said. "They have speed that most guys don't have and all three of them have fantastic hands. I think it is good that they are coming out of the backfield and we are using them in a lot of different ways. It's going to keep defenses off balance and have to make them get ready for a lot more stuff."

Nathan Dick, Casey's little brother and a junior prospect at Allen (Texas) High - now has offers from SMU and Wisconsin with Rice and Vanderbilt expected to offer soon. "He's interersted in Arkansas, "but I talked to him the other night and he isn't sure what he is going to do," Dick said. "he's taking his time."

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Practice tidbits:

...Injured wideout Marcus Monk was able to do some things in practice on Friday, but was limited. Redshirt freshman wideout Rod Coleman injured his hamstring slightly on Friday.

...Mustain, Springdale tight end and fellow UA signee Ben Cleveland were on hand for practice Friday as was UA offensive line commit Seth Oxner of Monticello and fellow 2007 offensive line prospect Lee Ziemba of Rogers.

Ziemba, one of the nation's top prospects, has been to three of the Razorbacks' four workouts this week.

Springdale kicker Alex Tejeda was also in attendance.

Assistant coach Louis Campbell supervises Matterral Richardson (16) and Chris Houston (2) in punt coverage drills.

Cedric Washington loosens up before Friday's workout.

Gus Malzahn visits with wideout Marcus Monk before practice.

Gus Malzahn throws some passes to his wide receivers in a loosening up drill before Friday's workout.

Defensive tackle Cord Gray stretches.

Assistant coach Tracy Rocker supervises as the defensive Hogs stretch.

Photos by Clay Henry

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