Arkansas went to shorts and shoulder pads for a Friday practice designed to take some pressure off the players' legs ahead of an important mid-day scrimmage set for Saturday in Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
The Hogs will take to the field at around 11 a.m. Saturday with the start of the workout on the practice fields. After about 30 minutes, the Hogs will move to the stadium for a lengthy scrimmage that will be designed to test the quarterbacks. Unlike the other workouts this week, this one is open to the public.
"We'll set the ball down and put it first-and-10 and go from there," said Houston Nutt, the head coach. "We'll see who can move the chains. If it's three and out, then we'll make it first down and start again with the same group right there. We are going to give a group 10 plays, or see if they can put it in the end zone with a drive."
The Hogs will also look hard at placekickers and do a thorough check of the punting game.
"This is a big scrimmage for checking the position battles that are going on now," Nutt said.
As for what it will mean for the quarterback race, the head coach said it would be part of the picture, but not the entire picture.
"It's about checking everything," he said. "We'll look at all areas when we are done (with spring)."
Nutt said it was unlikely that the Hogs would change the depth chart at quarterback until after the spring. He promised all three of the scholarship quarterbacks would get some time with different units in the scrimmage in hopes of getting an accurate look at each of them.
"We shortened today's workout," Nutt said. "Just a little bit. We've gotten great effort through the first half of our spring workouts, but now we've got some wide receivers with a few pulled hamstrings."
Most of those injuries are ever so slight, but freshman Rod Coleman appears to have a serious strain. He will probably miss the rest of the spring.
"That's ashame because it's a wasted spring for him," Nutt said. "He needed this and he's going to miss it all, probably."
Nutt said Marcus Monk, Reggie Fish, John Aaron Rees, Cedric Washington and Chris Baker are all bothered with various leg strains. Rees, Washington and Monk all participated in Friday's workout, but were less than full speed.
"They have run a few more routes than they are used to running," Nutt said. "We have to keep them watered and stretched because they are getting a lot of running right now. I think most of them will be out there on Saturday. I'd say Coleman is out for sure and we are still unsure on Baker. We hope Baker is there."
It will be a "big film" for the safeties. Nutt said Randy Kelly has had a "good spring" and he hopes to have a clearer idea of who the main contenders are for the other safety after this scrimmage.
"We'll look at Michael Grant, John West, Rashaad Johnson, Kevin Thornton and Matt Harris there," Nutt said. "Louis Campbell has a lot of guys to look at and this can be a hard thing and a problem. We are trying to find someone to step up there."
Nutt visited with a big visitor before practice, Philadelphia Eagles tackle Shawn Andrews. The former UA All-American was attending his first practice of the spring and said it was only his second visit to the campus since he turned professional.
"I came back to see if I could get some Razorback gear to show off in Philadelphia," Shawn said. "I'll check in and see what I can get, what they'll sell me. I want to show them where I'm from and I came up today for that reason.
"Boy, it was great to step out here and see that bright sunshine lighting up that Hog on the helmet. I can remember the first time I stepped onto this field and saw that Razorback on the helmet. I fell in love and I'm still in love with the Razorback on that helmet. It still looks great."
Andrews said he's spent some time in Little Rock over the last two years since leaving the Hogs a year early. That's where he bought a home for his mother.
"We moved her from Camden," Andrews said. "I thought it was a good home, but she said it was too big. She made me sell it and buy her a more modest home. She's happier now."
Andrews said he's working to lose weight.
"I was too big last season, mostly over 370," he said. "I want to be lighter this season, a little prettier out there on the field. I want to be down to 350."
The circus that was the Terrell Owens flap was something he mentioned during the afternoon watching the Hogs.
"Things are calmer now," he said. "That was a tough season, with all the things going on with him. I know it upset a lot of the older guys. I didn't say much because it wasn't my place being so new. I didn't like it and it did bother some guys. I understood it, but stayed clear. We are doing fine right now. I'm looking forward to the season.
"Boy, it's good to be back. That's the big city up there. This is wide open compared to that area. I love to be back in Arkansas and it was great to see all the guys and the coaches."
Jonathon Luigs (63) and Casey Dick prepare for Friday's workout.
Houston Nutt and Shawn Andrews visit before practice.
Mike Markuson puts the O-line through a drill with the blocking sled.
Photos by Clay Henry
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