Tuesday Grid Update, 11/17

There's nothing wrong with a little healthy competition, even at quarterback. Mitch Mustain and Casey Dick both enjoyed productive days on Tuesday.

Arkansas worked in full pads for over two hours Tuesday with Mitch Mustain and Casey Dick both logging effective work on the day, according to coaches. Practice was closed to the media, just as last week on Tuesday.

"Competition makes them both better," Houston Nutt said. "Mitch had a good day today. He threw it well. Casey Dick threw it well, too. They are both working hard. We are going to need both of them."

Mustain said that it was a good day for all concerned.

"This was an important day," Mustain said. "We were all ready to go on Sunday and had a good practice then and we carried that over to today. I threw well today. Hopefully, I can keep that going to Saturday."

Dick said he continues to work hard as the backup knowing his chance could come at any time.

"A bunch of people don't understand this, but as the backup, you prepare just like you are the starter," Dick said. "You don't know when your time might come and so you must be ready just like you are the starter. That's what I'm trying to do."

Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn said there was no change in practice routine this week compared to the previous four games.

"About four games ago, we started splitting the practice reps to 60-40 and that's what we did again today," Malzahn said, noting Mustain gets 60 percent. "It's like any other position. You have to get your backup ready and we've done that.

"The good news is that we have two good quarterbacks and we want both of them ready. Casey had a good game against Southeast Missouri, but Mitch did some good things, too."

Were there some areas where Mustain struggled?

"He missed a couple of throws and he missed a read, too," Malzahn said. "He has some things that needed to be corrected and we've gone about getting them corrected this week.

"That's what we've tried to do every week, correct our mistakes and get better. I think we've done that every week, get better."

Mustain knows the records may not reflect it, but he expects a tough battle from Ole Miss, a team that took Alabama to overtime last week and defeated Vanderbilt earlier this season.

"Ole Miss is very athletic," Mustain said. "They will be ready to play. They've had a good couple of weeks. Plus, we've gotten a lot of attention. They will be ready for us."

Nutt said the Rebels are solid in almost every area.

"They've gotten better every week," Nutt said. "They are very fast and athletic on defense. They can really run. They've improved."

Nutt thinks the Hogs have improved, too.

"From the first game, we've come a long way," Nutt said. "I think you can attribute that to great senior leadership. This bunch is very focused. I liked the way we came out from Sunday on last week and I saw that same focus and concentration starting this week on Sunday. This team is very mature, very unselfish. We've got some seniors really stepping up. They've kept us together."

The Hogs were without seniors Darius Vinnett and Cedric Washington, both struggling with concussions against Southeast Missouri.

"We looked at Michael Smith and Reggie Fish at punt return," Nutt said. "Right now, that's the direction we are going."

Cornerback Jerrell Norton, out several weeks with a high ankle sprain, returned Tuesday. He made it through the entire practice and will be assessed for swelling as the week progresses.

Defensive end Antwain Robinson, out for the SEMO game with a hip flexor strain, practiced without problems Tuesday.

Nutt said the defense got a good look on the scout team from Rod Coleman. The UA wideout was a high school option quarterback and he impersonated Ole Miss signal caller Brent Schaeffer on Tuesday. Schaeffer is a scrambler with great ability as a runner.

"Rod did a nice job and helped our defense out by playing quarterback today," Nutt said.

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