Tuesday Grid Report, 11/14

Arkansas senior All-American linebacker Sam Olajubutu makes sure his team remains focused on the prize Tuesday by telling his teammates how they are going to practice or the price they are going to pay. His teammates then went out and responded to his wishes.

Arkansas moved inside Reynolds Razorback Stadium to take advantage of the good surface and nice lighting as they worked hard on what coaches and players say will be their Super Bowl on Saturday in Starkville.

But before they could hit the field, senior captain Sam Olajubutu asked for a team meeting without coaches present.

"That's the first time since 1998 that our seniors have called a meeting like that," said Houston Nutt, Arkansas head coach. "Sam asked for it. It didn't take long. Maybe five minutes."

Olajubutu is a man of few words. His speech took about 20 seconds, said defensive tackle Keith Jackson, another senior captain.

"Sam doesn't say much, but when he does everyone listens because of the kind of person and player he is," Jackson said. "I probably talked the most. Sam was first and was very effective. He just said that we had to stay focus and not to listen to the hype. He said if we slouched around at practice he was going to have practice started over again. He said we better have a good practice and be flying around. Or else, we were going to start it all over."

Nutt said there were no problems after the seniors talked. He said it was an excellent practice with good intensity and outstanding focus.

Arkansas, rated fifth nationally, needs a victory Saturday at Mississippi State to clinch the outright SEC West championship. The Hogs take a two-game lead to Starkville.

Nutt opened his post-practice visit with the media on Tuesday with a thank you for two of his bosses, Frank Broyles and Jim Lindsey.

"The last couple of weeks I've been thinking about this and I wanted to get it out there," Nutt said. "The last couple of years have been hard and there have been people who have gone to Coach Broyles and Mr. Lindsey and given them advice. They have continued to back me and believe in me and our coaching staff.

"When you go through a season like this, you think back to those things sometimes. I have been doing this the last couple of weeks.

"I think about Coach Broyles and the Board (of Trustees) hanging in there with our staff and me. I just appreciate them. It makes you feel good to have that kind of an athletic director and that kind of a board.

"The only thing Coach Broyles ever asked me about was what he needed to get for us to put us in position to win. He did that. He got us the meeting rooms, the weight facility, the academic center and tutors that are better than what anyone else has. He got us the support system.

"I went to see him today to tell him in person what I was going to say about him publicly. I didn't find him. But I'm going to tell him in person, too."

Nutt said the Hogs are coming off a good week with all the trimmings to turn heads nationally. But it won't mean anything if the Hogs don't win in Starkville.

"Now, we have to finish it," he said. "How do you avoid a letdown? You do everything exactly like what you've done for the last seven or eight weeks, concentrate and focus. We did that today."

The Hogs were missing several injured players. Stephen Parker, Peyton Hillis, Marcus Monk and Darius Vinnett did not practice. Parker and Hillis are out this week. Monk and Vinnett should play. Also, doubtful is fullback Farod Jackson.

Mitch Petrus and Ben Cleveland got the work at fullback with Hillis and Jackson out.

"They got some good reps today," Nutt said. "We are comfortable with both of them. They both had good days. Casey Dick had a very good day."


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