Wednesday Grid Update, 10/4

The Hogs continue to get good news on the injury front as they prepare for a trip to No. 2 Auburn on Saturday.

Arkansas may send a healthy team to play No. 2 Auburn on Saturday. That was the news after Wednesday's practice in shorts and shoulder pads.

Head coach Houston Nutt was encouraged by what he saw from defensive tackle Marcus Harrison on Wednesday. Harrison had minor knee surgery only nine days ago and is still considered doubtful for the Auburn game.

"He ran early in practice and he looked good doing it," Nutt said. "He'll try to practice Thursday and we'll go from there. I feel good about where he's at right now and so does he."

Harrison said his knee does not have any swelling. He did not go through any drills with the team and did not wear pads or a helmet. He said he's a "maybe" as far as his ability to play against Auburn.

"I wouldn't go there just yet," said Tracy Rocker, the defensive line coach. "I've got to see him go through a practice. This ain't the NFL. I have to see you out here on the field practicing. Until I do, he's doubtful. He practices Thursday, maybe we can talk about it."

Houston Nutt was more upbeat about that situation and others as the Hogs finished their heavy work for the Auburn game.

"We are in a good frame of mind and our team has prepared well so far," he said. "Our concentration and focus has been excellent. We know that it will take all areas playing well for us to have a chance at Auburn.

"We'll have to make plays in the kicking game, play well on offense and slow them down with our defense. We won't win with seven or eight doing their part. It will take all 11 doing things right, not making mistakes for us to have a chance.

"We can't have turnovers and mental mistakes or we won't be in the game. I think our players understand that."

Tailback Darren McFadden thinks the Hogs are going to do well, mainly because they are healthier. He counts himself in that group of healed players. Gus Malzahn, offensive coordinator, noticed McFadden's step to be quicker and faster earlier in the week.

"He's right," McFadden said. "We got some rest last week. I missed some days with tonsilitis and when I came out Sunday there was something back in my burst. I feel much quicker. I felt that way Sunday and was excited that it was like that the last two days, too.

"The off week helped me and helped all of us. Now, it's just time to play ball. This is a big game but it doesn't bother me that it's on the road."

Nutt wanted to make sure the Hogs knew it was a road game with a loud crowd.

"We took the team inside to Walker Pavilion today and piped in some loud crowd noise and music," Nutt said. "It is going to be a loud atmosphere and it will be tough for our players to hear. We wanted to focus on that today."

Reggie Herring, defensive coordinator, coached linebackers at Auburn and has seen the crowd become a factor. But he's more worried about the Tigers offensive line.

"They have the finest pair of offensive guards in America," Herring said. "They lined up with those guys and Kenny Irons against South Carolina and kept it the entire third quarter, scoring twice. They threw only one pass. The rest were runs.

"Our challenge -- and they may throw for 600 yards this week because they are very good throwing, too -- will be to slow down those guards and Irons.

"We'll be able to slow them down only if our entire top 22 on defense plays well. We'll need all 22 on defense. We will have to use our depth. We have to use all 22 and make it a physical game. If we attack them properly on defense and can turn it into a physical game and we somehow get the game to the fourth quarter, then we have a chance.

"We have to be able to do more than just slow them down. We have to attack and get some turnovers. We couldn't do that last year. They ran it down our throats. We put eight in the box and they blocked the extra man, too.

"I hope we've made some progress. I think we are better. We have a different mentality. We understand how to fight and what it takes to compete against that type of team. But it's still going to be a tough battle, a real challenge."

The Hogs will go with junior college transfer Matt Hewitt at strongside linebacker for the second straight game.

"He's making progress," Herring said. "To say he's an accomplished linebacker would not be true. But he's getting better every day.

"He's got a chance because it's important. That's not a stat you see, whether or not something is important. But it's a big deal. You have to weigh maturity and accountability and will to execute. He has that. It's not about ability, it's the will to get it done so much. He gets better every day and he does that because of the kind of person he is."

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