Monday Grid Update, 8/21

After going off on his team and its performance Saturday night and then meeting with his seniors on Sunday, UA head football coach Houston Nutt gets what he is after during Monday's short workout inside the Walker Pavilion and also welcomes back several injured players and the removal of a pin from star running back Darren McFadden's toe.

It was tough to tell what made University of Arkansas head football coach Houston Nutt happier on Monday - his star tailback Darren McFadden literally and figuratively taking the first step back toward practice or his team re-establishing its focus after a lousy Saturday.

"I really thought we came back out here today with great concentration and great focus," Nutt said. "I want to give a lot of credit to our seniors. I thought they did a great job of taking ownership of our team and after camp of bringing everybody back together."

UA senior linebacker Sam Olajubutu said that the seniors met with Nutt a day after Saturday's disappointing workout and then they met with the entire team, who is less than two weeks from hosting USC in the 2006 regular season opener.

"He came and met with us the next day and we talked about all the seniors and how we had to be more focused at practice and take it more seriously," Olajubutu said. "We took it to the locker room, took it to the team and I think today we came out and it showed."

It showed on a day - the first day of classes - which Nutt said is traditionally one that has not brought about great concentration.

"Today was just a refocus on USC," Nutt said. "You had a day of school and most of the time you don't have a good day on the first day of school with that transition. But I thought our guys really came out here today and just focused hard."

There was also more good news on the injury front with defensive end Anthony Brown, linebackers Weston Dacus and Ryan Powers and freshman wideout London Crawford all practicing Monday inside the Walker Pavilion after missing time last week with injuries.

"London Crawford and Ryan Powers, it sure was good to see those guys back," Nutt said. "They are very, very athletic, very very talented and they can run. They just need to stay on the field after missing about half the camp."

McFadden, who hurt his toe in a scuffle in Little Rock back in early August, had his pin taken out in Fayetteville on Monday and was at practice with a steel plated shoe on instead of the protective boot he has been wearing since surgery.

"It was a major hurdle for him," Nutt said. "It is good to have it out and now you have to go forward and you have got to go forward and let the thing heal."

Nutt said McFadden was understandably sore and there was not much of a way to put a timetable on his rehab.

"He is awfully sore today, getting the boot off, getting the pin out - just awfully sore," Nutt said. "He will be ready to talk to you guys (the media) tomorrow, but it is just hard to tell anything right now."

McFadden - who has acknowledged that he feels he let his team and the state down - has been quoted previously as saying he plans to play against USC - but that seems highly unlikely.

"He is very, very tough and I love his attitude," Nutt said, "but I would still say that (UA trainer) Dean (Weber) said ‘very doubtful' and I would still say ‘very, very doubtful.'"

Nutt said the UA's medical staff and coaching staff will be very careful in how and when they bring McFadden back.

"You never know, but he is going to have to do something," Nutt said. "He is going to have to do something (in practice) before the first game before we would put him in there. I just don't know and right now I would say no (on playing against USC)."

Knowing that Nutt's mom had her pin taken out - ironically just a few days after McFadden was put in, Nutt was familiar with what is going on with the process and laughed when asked if his mom was cutting while running after the first week and what her timetable had been.

"I guarantee you the first week she couldn't," Nutt said. "We have the best rehab guys in Dean and Eric (Lison) and Don (Decker), they do such a great job. Let's ask this question in another 48 hours. It's hard to say right now that this is where he is going to be and no one knows that."

Arkansas will return to the practice field Tuesday at 3:45 in a workout that is closed to both the fans and the media.

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