Wednesday Grid Update, 11/1

Arkansas had a solid practice from all accounts Wednesday as the Hogs get ready to hit the road for SEC play.

November arrived on Tuesday and so did Arkansas' concentration as the Hogs continued preparations for a trip to play South Carolina in Columbia.

"We didn't have great focus yesterday and I was disappointed, but we had it today," said defensive coordinator Reggie Herring. "It was a cold day yesterday and we had a cozy, bear feeling. Today we had a lot of focus."

That seemed to be the feeling across the board from the Arkansas coaches. Head coach Houston Nutt called it a "good, long work day. We got a lot accomplished."

Running backs coach Danny Nutt, paying special attention to the workout from Peyton Hillis, called it a great day. Nutt said his players have had "great attitude and great focus all week. They are having a great week of workouts."

Defensively, the Hogs are going to be closer to full speed than they've been in quite some time. Herring thinks he'll have all of his bullets for the trip to South Carolina.

"Sam Olajubutu will start," Herring said. "He's going to play and he'll go out there like a warrior. How long he can go, I can't tell you. I'm not sure about his durability, but the swelling (in an injured knee) is down. He did quite a bit today and he'll do more tomorrow. He'll be OK for Saturday night."

Herring also thinks that defensive tackle Marcus Harrison, cornerback Darius Vinnett and cornerback John Johnson will be available.

"I think Vinnett can play," Herring said. "We'll have more bodies ready than we've had lately. I think Marcus Harrison will be fine, too. He's nicked up, but you don't miss this game because you are nicked up. He'll play. John Johnson is getting closer to full speed. He's available, too. Having these guys back is going to help."

Herring said he has great respect for the South Carolina offense led by head coach Steve Spurrier and his quarterback, Syvelle Newton.

"They are a little different as far as what Coach Spurrier has done, but they are still very well coached," Herring said. "Coach Spurrier is one of the great college football minds.

"They still have his dropback game and Newton can throw it OK, but it's a little different because of his athletic ability. Instead of throwing it away when you cover his wideouts, he's going to tuck it and run. He makes it very difficult.

"We've played athletic quarterbacks the last three weeks so that gives us a head start, but it's still a challenge. Newton is going to stare down his receiver, but if he's covered he's going to make something happen.

"It's going to be an erratic game. He's going to make some plays when that happens and, hopefully, we are going to make some plays. How many can we make, I can't tell you."

Herring also said he has great respect for the atmosphere the Hogs will face Saturday night in Columbia after coaching against the Gamecocks for many seasons at Clemson.

"I never worried about going to Columbia if I knew I was going with a group which was ready to play," Herring said. "It remains to be seen if that is the case this year.

"I know their fans come to the game in great numbers no matter if their team is winning or losing. They fill those seats and support their team. They always have done that. And, they are loud."

The Arkansas head coach knows that is the way it will be Saturday night, extremely loud.

"That it's a night game means it will be a hostile environment," Nutt said. "We must have great focus. We know what we are facing. They have a great atmosphere and they have a very good team.

"We also know that they are going to be well coached. Coach Spurrier always has some tricks up his sleeves."

Danny Nutt likes the way his backs are preparing for the trip.

"My guys have had a great week so far," he said. "The attitude has been fantastic. Peyton Hillis has played very well of late and he's practicing like he's been playing -- very, very well.

"Peyton has been blocking out of this world. When he blocks like that, it makes our team go. He is a great, great H-back and fullback right now. I've been telling him he is the backbone of our offense right now. As he goes, we go. He's making plays as a blocker, runner and receiver. He's playing some great football and our tailbacks are the ones who really see it.

"With the way he's playing, we want him on the field in that fullback spot. He's so valuable. He's focused and playing some great ball right now."

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