Hogs Prepare For The Rain

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The forecast for the Capital One Bowl calls for cloudy weather and a chance of rain. That could cause a problem for both Arkansas and Wisconsin.

To prepare for the possibility of sloppy conditions, the Razorbacks spent time during Saturday's practice having quarterbacks Casey Dick and Mitch Mustain take snaps with wet footballs.

"Well, it's supposed to be raining Monday so you're always prepared. You got to be prepared for a wet ball day, and there is a good chance of rain," Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said following the team's final practice before the Capital One Bowl.

"We haven't played in a rain game for a long time, so we want to make sure that the centers and quarterbacks are handling the ball."

The Razorbacks didn't need to worry so much about practicing on a wet field. When the players arrived to Orlando earlier this week, they found that the high school field that they were using to prepare for Wisconsin was drenched.

The practice field has been muddy and wet over the last few days, which Arkansas offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn believes could turn out to be an advantage come Monday.

"The good thing is we've been practicing on a wet field, a soggy field for the last week. We hadn't had that opportunity up to this point, so it may be a blessing in disguise that when we go here there was a lot of rain," Malzahn said. "Our guys got used to the surface."

McFadden Close To 'Full Speed'

Arkansas running backs coach Danny Nutt has seen a significant improvement in running back Darren McFadden since the team resumed practicing earlier this week.

McFadden has been bothered by a high ankle sprain and a strained Achilles tendon suffered early in a 38-28 loss to No. 2 Florida in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game on Dec. 2.

"When he showed up here on (Tuesday), he was still limping a little bit," Nutt said Saturday. "But he got better every day."

Nutt said he has limited the amount of work McFadden has gotten in practice, including not allowing the sophomore to participate in scrimmages. But Nutt said the All-SEC running back is "pretty much back to full speed."

"I feel pretty good," McFadden said Saturday. "Practicing on a wet field like we did was kind of hard on me, but I feel pretty good."

Tickets Available

A Capital One Bowl spokesman said Saturday that about 60,000 tickets had been sold for Monday's game at the Citrus Bowl stadium, which has a capacity of 64,500.

Arkansas and Wisconsin were expected to sell 12,000 tickets each. UA ticket manager Mark Scobey said Saturday that Arkansas had upped its request to 13,500 tickets and sold all but a handful of those.

Wisconsin didn't release its ticket figures, but Badgers linebacker Mark Zalewski said, "Every year it seems like we have the (crowd) advantage in the bowl game. The whole state rallies behind us."

Contrasting QBs?

First-year Wisconsin defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz was asked Saturday about differences between Arkansas quarterbacks Casey Dick and Mitch Mustain.

"I don't see a marked difference," Hankwitz said. "Mustain has thrown more interceptions, but he can run a little better. I don't see a discernible difference."

Arkansas offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn offered this helpful information: "Mitch will have his own script for the third series. We'll be starting over."

Beckum Hot Topic

After Hogs defensive coodinator Reggie Herring had raved about Wisconsin's "No. 9," tight end Travis Beckum, Badgers quarterback John Stocco had similar praise for the 6-foot-4 sophomore.

"When Travis first moved there his routes were not always the right depth, but he kept making plays," Stocco said. "He just makes plays for us."

While Herring was wary of Beckum, Stocco sounded wary of Herring.

"We haven't faced a whole lot of 'man' defense this year," Stocco noted.

Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst had a cryptic solution for his quarterback.

"Just call the plays that work," Chryst joked.

Interleague Rivalry

Both Stocco and Zalewski acknowledged the regional stakes in Monday's game.

"There is a lot of pride in the Big 10," Stocco said. "We think we're one of the best conferences in the country."

Zalewski added, "It seems like we never get the respect we deserve. It will be fun to play Arkansas. If we can beat a team like that from another great (SEC) conference, it will boost our conference, I think."

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