Arkansas sustained the first injury of fall camp -- at a position that could not afford it. Tailback Michael Smith, suddenly in the mix because of Darren McFadden's late summer injury, went down with a problem that plagued him all of last season, both during the fall and in the spring.
Late in the team session, the smallish Smith ran into a linebacker and ended the play prone on the artificial surface clinging to his left hamstring.
Head coach Houston Nutt wasn't sure of the severity of the injury when he met with the media after the workout. He said, "I think he popped his hammy." Trainer Dean Weber didn't like that choice of words, stating only, "It's an injury to his left hamstring." Smith went straight to the training room after the workout. His status will be evaluated again Wednesday.
A large crowd lined the west sideline at the practice fields again Tuesday as the Hogs finished under the lights after another 7 p.m. workout. The player they probably wondered about as far as injury when he sat out the team portion of the drills wasw actually fine.
"Casey Dick, he's OK," Nutt said. "He might be a little sore from the first three days, but we just wanted to rotate things and get a few more reps for Robert Johnson and Mitch Mustain. It was a planned thing. We are trying to make things equal as far as evaluation. It will change again tomorrow."
Dick did throw plenty and well during the earlier part of practice, in both one-on-one work between defensive backs and receivers and later in the 7-on-7 portion.
It was the first day of shoulder pads and it triggered a good day from the defense. The defensive highlight came when cornerback Red Richardson, sporting the old No. 9 worn by Matt Jones, jumped a route in a red zone passing drill to intercept a Mustain quick out. He sprinted away with an easy TD return.
The defense also spent much of the team session chasing either Mustain or Johnson as they unveiled a few new blitzes.
"It was a good day for our defense," Nutt said. "It was a very fast practice. The defense was moving around with a lot of confidence. They should be a lot more confident.
"The offense didn't play as well. That wasn't a scout team they were going against. That was good on good and at this point in fall camp, the defense should be a step ahead."
Nutt said the quarterbacks "are getting better. They did some good work in one-on-one, made some nice throws. We are trying to mix things up and change the order and the rotation. We are not telling them who is going when. We don't want them to get comfortable and think, well, it's this period of team and this number of plays and I'm fixing to be in. We want them to be ready when they call them and see what they can do."
There was one position change. Van Stumon, who played both ways in high school, moved from linebacker to fullback. Nutt said the North Little Rock product did some good things, but that he is behind after spending his first three days with the defense.
"He can play a lot of places -- fullback, linebacker and defensive end," Nutt said. "We are going to give him a week or so at fullback and see how it goes. He's got good hands. He's behind at fullback, but he did some good things today."
Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn was asked about Stumon.
"Gosh, it was his first day," Malzahn said. "Give him some time."
Malzahn said he sees good things with the offense, especially at wideout.
"We are real pleased with the wide receivers," he said. "I think if you ask the quarterbacks, they'll tell you the wideouts are getting open and catching the ball. They have really improved from the spring. It's not even close as to how far they've come. I think we have enough now that we will have a good rotation of eight."
One of those making a move to get in that rotation is redshirt freshman Rod Coleman.
"He's very athletic and continues to make plays," Malzahn said. "He's getting better and trying very hard. He was behind after missing the spring. He's still not getting some of the little things. Some of it is the reads. Some of it is the routes. But he's getting better. He has to just keep coming. He's one of our most athletic players, but we just need him to keep getting better and learning and putting it altogether."
Asked about the status of the three quarterbacks, Malzahn said, "It's hard to say. I really don't think you'll find out where you stand until you put on full pads. We put on shoulder pads today, but that isn't like when you put on all the pads and scrimmage. The scrimmages will tell a lot more.
"We are trying to put everyone in position so that we get to the scrimmage we can find some things out. We are still learning. Right now, all of them are improving and getting better."
Asked about what was revealed in the passing game Tuesday night, Malzahn said, "That wasn't the main focus tonight. We put on the shoulder pads so we looked harder at the running game tonight. It wasn't about throwing as much tonight."
The Hogs will continue their single workouts at night on Wednesday. Practice will be at 7 p.m. again Thursday and finish under the lights on the practice fields.
Tuesday Grid Update, 8/8
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