Arkansas moved practice to the evening and worked into darkness Monday in hopes of getting more done at the end of a long day. Head coach Houston Nutt liked what he saw and promised more cool practice weather for his football team the rest of the week.
"I told them as long as we focus and concentrate the way we did tonight, we'll work at night this week," Nutt said. "Is it a reward? You know it is.
"There is a reason NFL teams go north or to low humidity for their training camps. You get more done."
With players not making it to the training room after the workout until after 9 p.m. it means a late night for the Hogs' medical staff, but trainer Dean Weber said it's worth it.
"I will gladly work late nights with the guys if it saves us from so many IVs," Weber said. "I think you'll see we get more done and keep our players on the field."
The Hogs' lone practice Monday didn't start until around 7 p.m. but that was after a full day of other duties, Nutt said.
"We had media day responsibilities early, some school work for those finishing up summer school, and then a walk through in the afternoon," he said. "And, then we had a really, really good workout tonight."
The best news after the third workout of fall camp? The Hogs are still without any serious injuries.
Nutt said earlier in the day that the coaching staff would like to make a decision on the first two quarterbacks by the middle of next week. To do that, the Hogs will need a lot of evaluation time in team sessions. They went through a long team period on Monday night.
"It was a long team period," Nutt affirmed. "We are looking hard at quarterbacks and wide receivers, trying to make some decisions. We are grading hardest on turnovers as far as quarterbacks, and those who are making the most accurate throws and making the best reads. We'll grade the film hard from tonight's practice."'
The Hogs were in a long session on the no-huddle offense that featured some nice runs by Felix Jones, Peyton Hillis and Michael Smith.
While the offense turned in some big plays, the defensive secondary also produced some, too. Randy Kelly and Elston Forte both came up with pass interceptions. Kelly ran his back for a probably touchdown. While freshman quarterback Mitch Mustain was involved in the interceptions, he also hooked up on some nice pass completions. He found John Aaron Rees on a long pass down the sideline that drew cheers from the large group of fans on that side of the field, the west side.
Quarterback Casey Dick enjoyed a solid workout, making some nice throws in the no-huddle session and also throwing several accurate strikes to open wide receivers.
"I thought Cedric Washington, of our receivers, had a very good day," Nutt said. "He dropped one ball over the middle, but he also made several nice catches. Marcus Monk and Cedric Washington both had nice practices."
Overall, Nutt said the switch in times "helped our team. We'll continue to do that as long as they keep their focus. I think they will tell you that this practice tonight was like being in air conditioning."
As far as the quarterback battle, Nutt said, "Each day we are finding out more in our evaluation. We are having some really good competition there right now. We are looking hard at who is turning it over and who is making the most accurate throws. You can tell they know that."
Mustain had two interceptions and Robert Johnson had two throws that should have been interceptions. Johnson also had the ball stripped from behind on a weakside cornerback blitz that he never saw despite some shouting from the coaching area.
Nutt likes what he sees from the wideout group, especially compared to what he saw in the spring.
"The main thing, guys, we have long lines now," Nutt said. "In the spring, we had no chance. We didn't have any numbers there. Marcus Monk and Cedric Washington were running too many routes. We have our top guys fresh now and we are adding to them with the new guys and also Rod Coleman."
Cedric Logan made a spectacular one-hand grab in the 7-on-7 portion of the day. Also, John Aaron Rees made a nice deep grab in the team session, a ball thrown by Mustain.
"You see what Rod Coleman can do now," Nutt said. "He's doing well.
"The thing we just can't do is throw the picks. We can't give them easy gifts."
The Hogs have gone three days with no pads. They'll add shoulder pads, but no leg pads, for Tuesday's single workout, another one set for 7 p.m.
Nutt likes what he sees from the freshmen linebackers, especially Ryan Powers and Chip Gregory. He said, "Those two are adjusting very fast. Those two are in the mix right now."
The defensive line did not always handle the no-huddle portion of the team session, jumping off sides on the quarterback's hard count. That led line coach Tracy Rocker to put his group through extra short sprints on the movement of a ball after the entire team finished a series of gassers and up-downs.
"We ran them because we had a missed field goal," Nutt said. "If the kicker had made all of them, we wouldn't have run. So his miss caused the gassers."
Jeremy Davis and Will Moore each hit a field goal, but Davis missed his second kick to set up the team's running.
Line coach Tracy Rocker said he would have had some extra work for his defensive line anyway, but the offsides just gave him something to concentrate on after the team running.
"If it was hot like Saturday, you can't put them through that stuff because they are already taxed," Rocker said. "But it was cool, so we stayed late and did running and situps. I wanted them to sit on a hard count, too, since they had jumped in team. Still, we would have done something anyway. I believe in hard work and they understand that. It was cool, so we just worked after everyone else was done."
Secondary coach Louis Campbell liked the interceptions from his safeties, but said there was plenty of mistakes, too.
"When the offense was in the no huddle, we were late lining up and lazy in getting into our stance," Campbell said. "We made things happen with the interceptions and that was good. We made two or three tonight and in the spring we had a lot of practices with zero. So that stands out. I bet when I see the film that I see a lot of mistakes, too."
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