Wednesday Grid Report, 8/9

It wasn't the best practice for the Arkansas football team. Penalties upset head coach Houston Nutt after the Hogs went through another evening workout, their fifth of fall camp. The Hogs will don full pads for Thursday's workout, the last before two-a-days.

Arkansas coach Houston Nutt wasn't as thrilled with Wednesday's workout as he's been with the team's first four fall practices. He was disappointed by penalties on both sides of the ball late in the workout as the Hogs worked under the lights to avoid the heat of the day once again.

"We had illegal procedure penalties, holding penalties and our defense jumped offsides," Nutt said. "It was a good night, but it wasn't as good as we've been having.

"Towards the end we got tired and we helped the other team. Our offense would have third-and-2 and have a penalty. That puts you in third-and-7 and that's an entirely different thing. And, then the defense would have us in third-and-7 and they'd jump. You can't help the other team. It's too hard to make that up.

"We had a good practice, but we can do better. We have to do better."

Quarterback Casey Dick, working with the first team most of fall drills, sat out most of the throwing part with a "tight lower back," according to Nutt. Dick did take part in the run polish portion of the practice.

"He could have practiced and he's really fine," Nutt said. "He's a little sore and tight. Dean Weber wanted to rest it. Casey said it tightened up a little tonight. Everyone thinks he's going to be fine."

Nutt said it was no different than what the defense did to take some pressure off of cornerback Darius Vinnett and some sore muscles. Vinnett is coming off offseason knee surgeries. He was a little sore and tight, so he got the night off, too.

"Vinnett wanted to practice, but we don't need him out there and we want him well for Sept. 2," Nutt said. "I made the decision and told him he was going to rest tonight."

With the depth slim at tailback, Nutt said he does not want to put green jerseys on Felix Jones and Peyton Hillis. But he did see fit to give the defense a talk.

"We told our defense, that under no conditions are they to touch Felix or Peyton," Nutt said. "They aren't to be touched until Sept. 2. They know not to touch No. 25 or No. 22."

Nutt said the Hogs are still awaiting word on the eligibility of cornerback Jerrell Norton.

"We know the courses they are waiting on are fine, but they need that stamp to be put on it and it okayed," he said. "It's just a matter of waiting on the paperwork to come through. It could be any day."

Nutt praised freshman quarterback Mitch Mustain and noted, "The speed of the game is starting to come to him. He's calm and cool. He's making some good, accurate throws. He's getting beter and better. He's very accurate."

Defensive coordinator Reggie Herring said the Hogs didn't have a great workout, but he said the focus has been good through five practices.

"I think if you ask either side, this wasn't great tonight, but it wasn't bad, either," he said. "I think you'll know more when we get the rest of the pads."

For example, he said it was too early to put too many evaluations in stone about his group of freshman linebackers.

"They have a long way to go because they are still learning fundamentals, but even at that, you can't tell too much about playing linebacker until you put on full pads and scrimmage," he said. "We'll know more then."

Asked about junior college transfer Matt Hewitt working with the first team at free safety, Herring said, "I'd call Hewitt and Michael Grant 1A and 1B at free safety. They are competing. Hewitt is working with the first team, but they are really tied.

"We are asking Michael Grant to compete for it with Hewitt. Really, we just put Grant there in the spring. He didn't earn it. We are asking him to compete and earn it. So far, both of them are getting after it.

"We are going to see what happens there over the next two weeks. We'll see what happens. They'll fight for that spot. It's called good competition."

Hewitt opened fall camp as the backup to Randy Kelly at strong safety, but Kelly has been so solid it was clear that Hewitt had no chance to win that job.

"He wasn't going to beat out Kelly," Herring said. "So we moved him to where he could battle someone. I really like Hewitt, but we don't know enough yet. We are going to find out about free safety. It's going to be a good, healthy fight. Right now, they are tied. We just want to see Mike compete and see who earns it."

Chris Wade, another juco transfer on defense, drew praise from his position coach. Line coach Tracy Rocker said Wade is everything he saw on film, although the defensive end is still learning the system.

"Chris Wade has got something to him," Rocker said. "He is learning our terminology and getting in shape. He's making progress on both fronts. He's got a big up side.

"What I've noticed through five days is that he likes to work. I like that a lot. He has to learn the package and what I can tell, he is eager to learn. He's catching on more and more each day. He's getting into shape, but he's still not in quality shape. But someone who likes to work, I can deal with him. This player has ability and he likes to work."

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