Arkansas took off the leg pads for Wednesday's two-hour workout, but that didn't keep it from undertaking a long, tough, physical practice. "We want to be more physical," Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said. "We've worked hard on that aspect the last two days.
"We are working on keeping our pad level down. We want to play Razorback football, hard, tough, physical football. That's what we are going to concentrate on doing."
That coincides with what offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn preached on Tuesday when he said the Hogs want a "physical mentality whether they are running the ball or passing the ball. We've got to get that mentality in practice and in games."
Offensive line coach Mike Markuson was the one preaching Wednesday. Offensive tackle Zac Tubbs said his coach got after everyone the last two days.
"We had a tough practice yesterday, but today's was tougher, very intense," Tubbs said. "We banged heads all day today. We have to have that kind of mentality when we take the field Saturday night. We know we have to run it better every time we play than we ran it Saturday night. I'm not saying we have to run it more, just run it better."
Markuson said, "Gus wants to run it and we've got to give him more in our running game. What I am proud about is that in the first game it showed that what we worked on in the spring and this August was better and that's our protection. Now, we have to get that run blocking back where we play good, solid fundamental football there, too.
"We are building our passing game and we have to continue to build our run blocking, too. We have to build it a little better right now.
"My nature is that I get after people. That's what I've done the last couple of days. We had some good run blocks on Saturday night, some real flashes. But we missed a block there or here and we didn't maintain our double teams like I want. We'll get that fixed. We took a step in that direction the last two days. We got nasty the last two days."
Markuson said two of the front five graded out "excellent," and that was left tackle Tony Ugoh and center Jonathon Luigs. He said Tubbs also had a solid game and that the others can improve. Robert Felton replaced starter Nate Garner at right guard for this week with Garner moving to the backup tackle slot. Jeremy Harrell will backup Felton and Luigs. Chase Pressley was moved up to the backup slot at left guard with Jose Valdez continuing to back up Ugoh.
"Zac wasn't bad," Markuson said. "He's worked hard. He's going to have a great senior year. He's come a long way from spring drills with his pass sets and he is working very hard in practice. He's going to get it done this year."
Defensive coordinator Reggie Herring announced that Weston Dacus had moved ahead of Desmond Sims at middle linebacker. Both will play in the game and the two will continue to compete for the job.
"Sometimes it's about pushing buttons," Herring said. "Dacus had a nice game. He actually played well at all three linebacker spots. We are going to let him concentrate on middle linebacker and see what happens there. He had a solid game. He played his assignments well. He had his man-to-man responsibilities in the passing game the best."
True freshman Malcolm Shepherd also showed flashes at defensive end.
"We are going to move him to second team at both end spots with Jamaal Anderson and Antwain Robinson at the first team spots," Herring said. "Antwain Robinson played his technique very well. He got some sacks and pressure by playing his techniques against the bootlegs. It wasn't a straight pass rush technique, just holding his spot on the backside and not leaving home.
"Shepherd is really coming. He showed us those fast-twitch muscles and ability to make plays. He has confidence and is acting like a sophomore. He also looks like he is accountable and will play his position."
Concerning offense, Houston Nutt said quarterback Mitch Mustain had a "solid day." He said the Hogs worked on correcting mistakes from the game and also on third-down situations and in goal-line work.
Wednesday Grid Update, 8/6
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