Friday Grid Update, 3/30

It was a better day for the offense on Friday as big plays were the order of the day. Quarterback Casey Dick bounced back with one of his better performances.

The offense took some revenge on the defense during the team session of practice, taking three or four plays to the house.

"Our offense had a much better day," said head coach Houston Nutt. "Casey Dick was much better. Our protection was much better."

Defensive coordinator Reggie Herring must have agreed. He had his unit doing up downs as soon as the team segment completed. The offense continued to hold the upper hand immediately after that session when the Hogs worked on the two-minute drill.

On the second play of the team session, Dick found wideout Marcus Monk behind corner Matterral Richardson for a 50-yard touchdown bomb. Monk was five yards clear and Dick's pass -- completed just in front of his parents and younger brother Nathan Dick on the sideline -- hit Monk in perfect stride at the 10-yard line.

The offense also clicked for a big pass completions to Rod Coleman and Peyton Hillis. Just for good measure, the offense fooled the blitzing defense with two draws, both of them going the distance. The first was to Michael Smith. The second was to Darren McFadden. There were no defenders close enough to touch either of those tailbacks on either run.

"We had a good one today," Nutt said. "I think one thing is that you probably didn't see some of our players go as hard since we were in shorts and shoulder pads. We need them to bring the intensity every day.

"But the offensive line protected much better today. Another highlight was Jeremy Davis. He hit the ball very well in our placekicking sessions. He finished the two-minute drill by hitting one very good. His leg looks very strong right now. He had a good day."

The Hogs weren't in full pads Friday as they prepared for a major scrimmage on Saturday. The team will start the workout at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, but will move into the stadium a little after 11 a.m. The scrimmage will begin around 11:15, Nutt said.

"We'll go about 30 plays with the first group and about 30 more with the backups," Nutt said. "After that, we'll try to get some plays for the rest of them."

Nutt said the Hogs would not tackle tailbacks Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, but the rest of the team will be open to live contact.

"We will get some individual work in first and some fundamentals before moving into the stadium," Nutt said. "We want to see if we can continue to progress with our protections. We want to give our quarterbacks time so we can throw it down the field."

Line coach Mike Markuson said the Hogs are getting better every day, but have yet to perfect all of the new protections that have been added this spring.

"Reggie Herring has really brought some different looks and that's tough for a young bunch like we have in our O-line, but we are going to have to get this down and we are getting better," Markuson said. "I'm pleased with what we've done so far.

"We've got some young ones like DeMarcus Love and Ray Dominguez that have their heads swimming right now. It's going to take an entire spring with them. But they will get there. If we just went out there in base they could do it. But that won't help them. We are going to give them everything.

"Saturday will be a big day. So far, they've had me right there with them in the huddle. Now we'll see what they do if I'm on the sideline with my arms folded. We are going to see how much they know."

Center Jonathan Luigs knows the defense will come ready.

"You see it go back and forth from one day to the next in the spring," Luigs said. "We got the better end of it today. Yesterday they handed it to us. So you know the defense will bring it tomorrow and we better be ready.

"Yesterday was tough. Coach Herring showed us some blitzes we haven't seen before and we didn't adjust to them very well. We were ready for them today. It's something new every day from him and that's good for us."

Wideout Marcus Monk liked the way Friday's workout went from start to finish.

"We are getting better," he said. "Our quarterbacks are making good progress and so are our wideouts. We've got some guys who haven't played out there making plays. That's good. I'm trying to help them."

Monk said new wideout coach Alex Wood has helped them learn some new tricks.

"I think what you've seen is that he's taught us how to get off the line a little better," Monk said. "Separation, that's what I'd say we've improved. You could see it today.

"Coach Wood has coached some big-name wideouts like Antwain Bolden and Randy Moss in the NFL. He has showed us some of the things those guys do. We are trying to learn all the new tricks. I'm trying to soak it up as much as possible. Today was a good day for the wideouts."

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