Hogs Sluggish To Start Stretch Run

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas' final week of spring practice didn't get off to the best of starts on Monday.

"We got off to a slow start today," said Arkansas coach Houston Nutt. "We're really bruised up and I understand that, but we've got the rest of the month of April and May to get the bruises off of us."

New Razorbacks offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn didn't figure that problem would drag into a second day.

"We didn't come in with an approach to really put the hammer down and get better," Malzahn said. "It's our job as coaches to do that, and it's my responsibility, so we'll come out ready to go tomorrow."

The final week of spring practice, leading into Saturday's Red-White game, is critical, Nutt said.

"Today's not an off week," Nutt said. "Today's not, 'Hey, let's just get ready for the scrimmage.' Today is practice and it took us awhile to figure that out.

"But what we want to get out of it is consistency, getting better, a passion for the game every single day. That's the only way you get better is going full speed and doing it the right way."

Nutt also said it wouldn't be a problem getting his team back into practice mode today.

"Coming off of a scrimmage (Saturday), this is the hardest time, to come back," Nutt said. "We had too many balls on the ground offensively, we had too many dropped balls and again, it's a little bit of a lack of concentration, a little bit of feeling sorry for yourself and we can't do that, not if we're going to have the team that we want to have."

After practice ended, a large portion of the Razorbacks had to go through up-down drills, while Malzahn and the offensive staff had a short but spirited talk with that unit.

"We're trying to push 'em, push 'em, push 'em to be as good as we can," Nutt said. "Because we've got a big-time event coming up Saturday with the spring game, a great day for kids, great day for the players (and) former players, and we're excited about it."

Nutt said the Razorbacks would practice today and Thursday in pads, before working out Friday in shorts in preparation for Saturday's game.

Red-White Format Set
Saturday's Red-White game format will feature the starters on the Red team, with everyone else on the White, Nutt said.

"We're going to have a little more depth over on the white side," Nutt said.

That doesn't mean, however, that the Red team will just have 11 players per side though.

At quarterback, the Red will feature both Robert Johnson and Casey Dick. Darren McFadden, Felix Jones and Peyton Hillis will also all be on the Red squad.

In order to make scoring more competitive, the White team will get seven points per quarter, or 28 points for the game, spotted to them.

"It's going to be very game-like and it ought to be very exciting," Nutt said.

Offensive Picture Clearer
Malzahn said the picture is clearing up as to who will see the majority of the playing time on the offensive side.

"The first two weeks, we've let a lot of people play and we were trying to give everybody a chance, to see who the best players were on the field," he said. "We've had 11 practices now under our belt, we are aware of who we need to go to battle with, we're going to be a little more specific and we're going to get better."

Consistency is the main thing Malzahn is looking for now, he said, especially at wide receiver.

"We're doing basic 'Football 101' at wide receiver right now," Malzahn said. "It's just a matter of executing, getting it done and making plays. Once we get that down, we'll get fancy. Right now, we ain't ready. We've got the basics. We'll get to the fun stuff later."

Cedric Washington and Chris Baker returned to practice Monday after being unavailable in Saturday's scrimmage due to injuries.

Offensive Line Lauded
Nutt credited the offensive line as the unsung heroes of spring practice Monday.

"This is one of the reasons we're having such a great spring is because we have depth in the offensive line," Nutt said. "That's good; just a blessing to have that many guys out (playing well) ad that's a good, young group behind them."

Nutt singled out several across the front, including sophomore Mitch Petrus, senior Chase Pressley and redshirt freshmen Michael Aguirre and Andrew Davie.

Play Of The Day
During the live-action portion of Monday's practice, sophomore defensive end Antwain Robinson leapt up just in front of an Arkansas quarterback, picking the ball off with one hand.

Although Nutt was pleased by the play Robinson made, he was concerned about his offense after Robinson nearly made a similar play last week.

"He almost did it the other day," Nutt said. "He's a good athlete; he's making plays, but we've got to do a better job of getting the ball over his head."

Extra Points
New quarterback coach Alex Wood said it hasn't been much different working with college quarterbacks than it was when he was tutoring quarterbacks in the NFL. "It's just the same thing working with quarterbacks at just about every level --footwork, timing, understanding schemes, hot defenders, those kinds of things," Wood said. "It's pretty basic stuff but it's all crucial." ... Malzahn said if McFadden was running at less than 100 percent, he couldn't believe how good he's be at full strength. "He's already scary," Malzahn said. "I can't imagine him being much better." ... Nutt praised Marcus Monk as a receiver he could count on, but said the rest were a question mark. "We're looking at a few of our other guys, the one that catch the ball, the ones that make plays. Those are the ones that we're going to put out on the field." ... Nutt said Michael Grant is adjusting well to his new role as a safety. "He can run," Nutt said. "That's the thing that gives him a great chance. He covers ground. He's made a few errors, a few mistakes, which we expected. We'll get those corrected. ... Then I feel like the coverage part of it, he'll be fine."


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