Wednesday Grid Update, 10/11

Arkansas practiced like a No. 17 team Wednesday and that left a good impression with the coaches.

Arkansas continued preparations for Southeast Misssouri with the kind of intensity that pleased the coaches.

"The two workouts we've had this week are the best we've had all year," said secondary coach Louis Campbell, noting the confidence the defense practiced with Thursday.

"If we play like that Saturday, I think we will all be pleased with the results.

"We had an air, some confidence about them. It was in a good way. You could tell they felt good about themselves and about the way they played and they took that to the practice field. Sometimes, you can barely hear them make the checks and calls. The last two days, they shouted them with confidence. The communication is what you look for and they did it very well."

That was about the way head coach Houston Nutt felt, too.

"It was a good, long practice and I'm pleased with the attitude and intensity with which the players practiced today and this week," Nutt said. "You are either going to get better or worse every day. We got better so far this week."

Nutt talked about SEMO being an eight-man front team on defense and an option, power running attack on offense. That is no surprise since SEMO coach Tony Samuel is a Nebraska product of the Tom Osborne era.

"They don't blitz a lot, but you don't know how they will play us," Nutt said.

"The bottom line is that it will be about how we take the field. If we play with intensity the way we've practiced the last two days, we'll be OK."

Defensive line coach Tracy Rocker said Ernest Mitchell was still ahead of Marcus Harrison as the starter at defensive tackle.

"It's about the way they are practicing," Rocker said."We'll play the one who practices the best and that's Ernest.

"Marcus is going to play, but he's about 60 to 70 percent right now. He's had a scope and he's not full speed. We'd like him to be full speed in practice and see who is starting then."

Defensive end Antwain Robinson did not practice for the second straight day after injuring a hip flexor against Auburn.

"We'd like to have him back Thursday and see if he can still play on Saturday," Rocker said. "But you have to practice to be able to play for this team.

"We are looking at Chris Wade, Malcolm Sheppard and Anthony Brown there right now."

As for Mitchell's play against Auburn, Rocker said, "Ernest had a great spring. I told him from day one that we believe in him. It was a matter of Ernest believing in himself. He played well against Ole Miss for some plays last year and we thought he was ready to bust out, but then he started getting injuries. That made him up and down. Now he has some confidence and he knows he can make plays. It's amazing what happens when you get a little confidence."

Defensive coordinator Reggie Herring said his main worry after five games is consistency.

"We've got some starters playing pretty well at times, we just aren't consistent yet," he said. "What I want to make sure is that our players know that the Auburn game is over and that it counts as one W. If we are looking back instead of looking ahead, there are going to be weeks we get our teeth kicked in.

"If you want to be special, then start acting like it. Don't play down to the level of the your competition. That responsibility falls equally on the coaches and the players.

"So far, I don't see a letdown. We've tried to make sure starting on Sunday that our players know we have seven important games left to be played."

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