Thursday Grid Update, 11/2

Arkansas may be in great shape injury wise as it travels to play South Carolina's Gamecocks.

Arkansas worked in sweats Thursday evening, covering a lot of special situations like the two-minute drill, all areas of the kicking game and other mental situations.

"We had a good day with good concentration," head coach Houston Nutt said. "We know we are going to play a good team in a loud environment. We know it's going to take everyone concentrating to play a solid game."

Nutt said it appears Sam Olajubutu, Darius Vinnett, John Johnson and Marcus Harrison all will be available for duty when the Hogs play at 6:45 p.m. Saturday night against South Carolina. All are defensive players battling minor injuries.

Secondary coach Louis Campbell said the play on his side of the ball got progressively better as the week went along, perhaps due to Olajubutu's presence.

"We weren't as good Tuesday as you'd like, but maybe Sam not being out there had something to do with it," Campbell said of the injured outside linebacker and team captain. "At any rate, when he came back on the field Wednesday, we sure got better. He's not quite full speed, but he makes a difference even by just being out there."

Campbell also was glad to have Vinnett back on the field. The senior cornerback has battled knee problems and a recurring concussion this season and has played very little. However, he will be needed this week to combat the formations utilized by USC coach Steve Spurrier.

"South Carolina is going to try to spread you out and put three and four wideouts on the field," Campbell said. "When a team does that to you, there's a need for more corners and we don't have many. Darius is back and so is John Johnson. Both of them will help this week. We can rest our main two a little and play the schemes we want to play."

Campbell has played against Spurrier several times, including once in the SEC title game.

"The thing you know is that they are going to recognize what you are doing on defense," Campbell said. "I don't know if it's him or who he has in the press box, but if you are trying to take something away, they know it. If you are playing the inside slant, they call the outside fade. If you overplay the fade, they call the slant.

"He's also been in it long enough to know and be able to identify your weaknesses. When you go into the game, you can expect that they will attack you exactly the way you don't want to be attacked and they will recognize what you are trying to do to cover up your weaknesses.

"Seriously, his offenses do the best job of attacking your defense of anyone in the league. There are no defenses designed to take everything away, so what you have to do is mix it up when you play him. There is no such thing as the perfect defense. He knows what you are trying to do and what will work against it.

"The good news is that we are relatively healthy. We've got most of what we need to play this game. Our players have practiced well and are playing well."

Offensive line coach Mike Markuson likes what he sees on his side of the ball, too. He sees his group getting better every day.

"South Carolina does a nice job of giving you many fronts on defense, almost everything you can imagine," Markuson said. "So we've thrown a lot at our guys this week and they've handled it all. That's a sign of a veteran group and that's exactly what we've got in our offensive line.

"Our guys are improving each and every game and you can say that about the individual practices, too. We've been flying around this week and doing a very good job of knowing our assignments against a multiple defensive front. We've given our guys some really bad looks up front as far as defensive alignments and they've picked it all up.

"I'm excited about the way we are playing up front right now. I see them working hard every single day. I've heard the same thing from the pro scouts who have come through. They study the film. They know if you are getting better. There are no secrets where those guys are concerned. They tell me that we are playing extremely well as a unit up front. That's what I see, but when they tell it to you, it's a little different because if we weren't doing good things, they wouldn't say a word."

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