University of Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring isn't big on looking at or worrying about somebody's combined stats during the season.
That's why he could care less how much Ole Miss junior quarterback Brent Schaeffer struggled during his team's first six games.
He's only looking at what Schaeffer did last week in a 26-23 loss at Alabama, which was 13-of-20 passing for 163 yards and a score and rushing for another 37.
"Stats is after the season coffee shop stuff," Herring said Wednesday after the Razorbacks' two-hour practice. "We are not looking at stats, we are looking at an athlete at quarterback that is capable of ruining our season and he is coming off his best game of the season against Alabama."
Schaeffer is hitting just 47.3 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and eight interceptions.
"That is what we are concerned with and not about what he did the first few games," Herring said. "Because he is better right now than what he was earlier in the year."
That was one of the storylines coming out of Wednesday's Arkansas practice, which lasted two hours and saw the offense work outside in cool temperatures and the defense work inside the Walker Pavilion.
The SEC leading and No. 15 Razorbacks (5-1, 3-0) - the league's only unbeaten team - host the Rebels (2-5, 1-3) Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
"We had a good practice again today," Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt said. "The guys really came out here and concentrated on their assignment and that has been what I have really been proud of. We know we are playing a good football team. Forget about the records, forget about all of that, you are playing a good team that is very athletic, and you have to be ready to go."
One of those athletic types is Schaeffer, the Herring thinks a big reason is because the Rebels put Schaeffer in the shotgun more last week against the Crimson Tide.
"I think they stumbled into something against Alabama," Herring said. "They had been in pro-ace personnel and team 11 personal, but they hadn't been in the shotgun that much and spread the field. But they came out against Alabama and decided to do that more and he looked more comfortable.
"...It was his most productive day and most of it was out of the shotgun back there where he could see, run around and do his little thing," Herring added, "where he was more under the center and coming out and having to see things as they developed. For some reason, he looks more comfortable back there than he does operating their offense under the center. That's not that they are not going to do both, but in the Alabama game they did that more than what they had and it was their most productive day."
That would seem to make Schaeffer a possibility to be as difficult for Arkansas to contain as was Vanderbilt's Chris Nixson, who rushed for 74 yards and a score and passed for 124 yards and a touchdown.
"If you really go back and look at Vanderbilt, the things that really hurt us was the inside runs with the running back where we were out of gaps and we missed assignments and missed tackles," Herring said. "The quarterback himself - with the exception of scrambling in the end zone for a touchdown - he really just scrambled around to keep balls alive and it was another facet of our game that hurt us against Vanderbilt. We didn't play very well at all the whole day."
That's not to say that Herring doesn't think that Schaeffer can cause havoc for his defense.
"The bottom line once again with this guy is that he can create and he is an unpredictable character and is one that will challenge your discipline and that is what makes for the ballgame," Herring said. "That's the storyline - can we contain and can we tackle their quarterback and prevent him from creating off busted plays. That is where he is most dangerous. It is not a methodical quarterback, it is not Johnny Unitas drop back and pick you apart - even though he he has that capability."
On the injury front, defensive end Antwain Robinson and defensive tackle Marcus Harrison are healthy and will start against Ole Miss, but Arkansas expects to be without cornerback Darius Vinnett and wideout/punt returner Cedric Washington.
"We fell pretty good (about the defensive line)," Nutt said. "Just about everybody is practicing and that is a good feeling. We are getting close to getting everyone healthy."
Arkansas is likely to have true freshman cornerback Jerell Norton back as well after his being out three weeks.
"Every single body that we get back helps," Nutt said. "We need everybody, and Jerell figures into some nickle and dime packages. So that really helps us."
Reggie Fish will get the shot at returning punts in Washington's absence.
He's been doing a great job of catching the ball and securing it," Nutt said. . We've been working hard on punt return, and hopefully he'll give us an edge there."
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