Not A Good Day For the Hogs

FAYETTEVILLE — After chastising his players for looking lackadaisical in front of a home crowd, Arkansas coach Houston Nutt stormed out of the team's meeting room.

Defensive coordinator Reggie Herring left the room a moment later, clearly too annoyed to speak with reporters following the Razorbacks' second preseason scrimmage Saturday evening.

"They don't deserve to be talked about!" Herring said as he walked away, leaving his players to defend their disappointing performance in front of an estimated crowd of 5,500 at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

No one, from Nutt and Herring to the players themselves, was pleased with the effort that was displayed before lightning forced Arkansas to end the scrimmage after an hour of work.

Apparently, it couldn't end soon enough.

"Everybody was bad, bottom line," Nutt said during one of his more heated tirades in recent memory.

Nutt referred to the scrimmage as "embarrassing," adding that he didn't see any positives. He had nothing good to say about the way the offense or defense looked in the noncontact scrimmage. He was even disappointed with his kickers.

"He was really upset. I mean, he should have been," running back Peyton Hillis said. "We came out, didn't play very hard, went through the motions. It looked very lackadaisical, and we can't do that come Sept. 2."

Even though tackling was not allowed in the scrimmage, Arkansas' coaches had hoped to see players line up properly, hustle to the football and show that they can get in position to make a play. But for the most part, none of that happened.

That was particularly disappointing for Nutt, especially considering that the Sept. 2 season opener against the University of Southern California is less than two weeks away.

It also didn't help that some Arkansas fans had driven in to watch the scrimmage, which was cut short by around 30-35 plays because of poor weather.

"He just knew that we couldn't perform like that in front of our fans," defensive end Jamaal Anderson said, referring to Nutt. "We've just got to come out there with a lot more want-to than we did today."

Aside from defensive end Antwain Robinson intercepting a Nathan Emert screen pass and returning it 45 yards for a touchdown, the defense had trouble stopping the scout team.

The offense, according to coaches, didn't look much better before the heavy rain fell.

"You either get better or you get worse," offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn said. "And obviously, we didn't get better. But the good thing is we've got two weeks to get it right, and we will get it right."

Junior Robert Johnson, who was named last week as the starting quarterback for the season opener, completed 7-of-10 passes for 65 yards. He also connected with Chris Baker on a 15-yard touchdown pass.

Freshman Mitch Mustain finished 3-of-6 for 27 yards, but it was hard to judge the first-team offense because they faced backups who were not allowed to tackle.

But Nutt dismissed the notion that his team's lack of effort was somehow a result of the players not being allowed to hit each other.

"Don't give me the excuse, ‘Oh, we're not tackling,'" Nutt said. "That's the wrong way to approach a practice. That was embarrassing."

After noticing that his players were tired, Nutt decided to cancel Thursday night's practice. He had hoped the short break would rejuvenate his players, but instead the team has had two straight days of bad practices.

Arkansas is not expected to practice today, though Nutt left the possibility open.

Nutt said he could tell early on Saturday when the players were stretching that their focus wasn't there. It didn't get any better.

"To me, it wasn't a good day," Nutt said.

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