Hogs Adjourn For Holidays

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas coach Houston Nutt had said the Razorbacks would practice twice Wednesday, their last pre-Capital One Bowl day on campus, but the players already seemed to know before the morning workout that they would be rewarded with the afternoon off.

There was more chatter and laughter than usual during the pre-practice stretching.

Nutt kibitzed with defensive end Jamaal Anderson, acting as if he could shoot a basketball over him. Anderson had a loud conversation with All-America tailback Darren McFadden, 15 yards away from him.

McFadden had sat down with an ABC crew on Tuesday for an advance bowl interview, and with "ESPN The Magazine" for a photo shoot.

To get the Hogs' minds on their business, UA strength and conditioning coach Don Decker snapped them to attention Wednesday by reminding them that they didn't want any "tweaks" in the last campus workout.

The players then stretched quietly and practiced about an hour, mostly on special teams. Punter Jacob Skinner boomed seven straight spirals at one point, including one that hit the roof of the Walker Pavilion. The Hogs worked against Wisconsin's passes and fakes from punt formation.

On the side, McFadden loosened up by flicking 55-yard passes to Felix Jones or Mitch Petrus in the end zone.

"McFadden is getting close to 100 percent (health)," Nutt said. "I've told him that's a must."

Sophomore defensive tackle Marcus Shavers, injured on Monday, underwent surgery Wednesday on his broken foot.

Linebacker Weston Dacus missed the practice because of a flu bug.

"We're so bumped and bruised," Nutt said, explaining the cancellation of the afternoon workout. "Antwain Robinson is nicked up, and Marques Wade had a concussion. Tony Ugoh just did some walk-throughs today."


Although Arkansas loses senior offensive linemen Ugoh, Stephen Parker and Zac Tubbs plus tight end Wes Murphy after this season, Nutt said, "I think we'll be all right next year. Nate Garner is like a starter and we return Jonathan Luigs and Robert Felton.

"(Freshman guard) DeMarcus Love has come the farthest this year, and guys like (sophomore tackle) Jose Valdez, (freshman tackle) Jim Hart, (freshman tackle) Ray Dominguez, (freshman center/guard) Joey Crossland and (freshman tackle) Michael Aguirre have gotten some great work. We've had an excellent nine practices."


Nutt said the No. 12 Hogs (10-3) were excited about playing No. 6 Wisconsin (11-1).

He said young defensive players such as linebacker Wendel Davis and cornerback Jerell Norton had benefited from the bowl practices, which included a good bit of scrimmaging among the reserves.

"This is what we've needed, guys," Nutt said.

The players will assemble in Orlando on Christmas night and begin practice there at 2 p.m. Dec. 26. They'll practice daily, going to morning workouts on Dec. 27.

While many of the Razorbacks will drive to Orlando in order to save some of their travel money, quarterback Mitch Mustain said he would fly.

Mustain said he was fine with not starting at quarterback against Wisconsin.

"I wasn't really expecting anything different," he said.


Mustain and starter Casey Dick have each gotten 50 percent of the reps during the bowl practices.

Both quarterbacks commended QB coach Alex Wood for his direction this season.

"He's been a great help to us," Mustain said. "He has great experience. He's pretty quiet, and fun to be around."

Nutt said quarterback Nathan Emert, who becomes eligible next season, has done a good job in scrimmages with the third team during the bowl workouts.

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