The University of Arkansas went undercover - sort of - on Monday as it closed spring practice to the public for the first time in six practices.
It's all about getting as much out of the remaining practices as possible according to Razorback head coach Houston Nutt, whose squad was back on the field for the first time since a lengthy 70-play scrimmage on Saturday.
"We were a little bit sore today, but after we got going we were a little bit better," Nutt said. "We are just trying to get a full day out of them everyday. Every practice is precious.
"Whether they know it or not, this is an unbelievable pportunity to get better," Nutt added. "If you are second team, you are a play away. If you are second team you could be first team. There are jobs at stake. Get ready and compete. We have made some improvement. We need to keep coming every single day."
It's likely that Arkansas - under new offensive coordinator Gus Malzhan - will now begin to put in a little bit more of its new stuff with an idea toward having a lot more in by the end of practice.
They are building toward open-to-the-public scrimmages both this Saturday and the Red-White game on April 15th, which will kickoff at 1 p.m. and actually be televised by ESPNU later that same day at 5 p.m.
"You've got to be patient," Malzahn said. "We are very basic right now, just trying to get the basics down. You can get the fancy stuff later, but we are nowhere near that right now. But hopefully by April 15th we will be."
The offense certainly got the better of things on Saturday - which had not been the case the previous four practices - and put the defense in some binds for one.
"When you watch the defense, the thing that I love about them is that they are playing awfully fast," Nutt said. "We didn't tackle. But that is actually the first time we have tackled live to the ground, so I'm not worried about that.
"The thing about our defense, when you look at the effort of each one they are giving it to us," Nutt added. "They are giving us great effort. We are going to be quick. They may not be the biggest, but we are going to be extremely quick. If we keep working on the fundamentals of tackling, we are going to be all right there."
Coaches continue to laud the play of defensive end Antwain Robinson and walk-on safety Rashaad Johnson - brother of UA quarterback Robert Johnson - who were both moved up to first team spots late last week.
Obviously the younger Johnson has been a pleasant Johnson.
"He is athletic and is rangy," Nutt said. "He has made a play or two. He still needs to tackle better and get the feel of the game. Right now, he has made the fewest mistakes and that is why he is in the number one slot. He has some people on his heels. Some people are going to pick up their game. He has to keep coming."
One of the defensive bright spots on Saturday was redshirt freshman Rashaad Johnson. The younger brother of Arkansas quarterback Robert Johnson, Rashaad was moved to the first team after a solid week of practice and an impressive scrimmage effort. Nutt says his move up the depth chart can be traced to his consistency.
One downer during Monday's workout was the fact that wideout Rod Coleman was not able to go through the practice because of a lingering injury.
"It makes you sick for a guy like that to miss this much of the spring, especially when we were counting on him to make a move this spring," Nutt said.
The Razorbacks ended the workout with a successful pressure field goal boot by Jeremy Davis, which got them out of some extra conditioning work.
Arkansas will be back on the practice field on Tuesday before taking a scheduled day off on Tuesday.
Monday Grid Report, 4/3
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