There were a few excited players at Arkansas' football practice Monday, but not enough to satisfy head coach Houston Nutt. He promised the coaches would do a better job of preparing the players ahead of Tuesday's workout.
"We were a little sore and beat up from Saturday and were feeling a little sorry for ourselves today," Nutt said. "We started out okay, but we didn't finish the way we want to finish. We need to come out with the idea that our chin straps are buckled up and we are ready. We've had very good practices until today. We will do better jobs as coaches to get them ready before our next practice."
The excited players were the offensive backfield group of Darren McFadden, Felix Jones, Peyton Hillis and Michael Smith. That combination was on the field for much of the time when the Hogs installed the Wildcat Package with McFadden at quarterback in the shotgun for the first time this spring. (Hillis wore a green jersey Monday after taking a shot to the lower back in Saturday's scrimmage.) The Hogs worked on the radar option with offensive coordinator David Lee and running backs coach Danny Nutt taking turns with instruction.
"It didn't go too good, but you could tell our guys were excited about it," said Danny Nutt, running backs coach. "You knew it was going to be rusty first time out this spring. We've added some things, like some reads. We are making him read the option and that's tougher. He'll get it. He was pumped up. We had to slow him down a little bit."
McFadden said things will get smoother as the Wildcat gets more attention in the fall.
"It was good to get in it some," McFadden said. "We'll get better at it."
Felix Jones said, "You could tell Darren wanted to do it bad and sometimes we rushed things. We'll get the timing down as we go. It was a lot of fun. I think he was cool with it. He got to throw some passes and that fired him up, too."
The Hogs were missing several injured players and some who had class room duty. Fred Bledsoe, Marcus Shavers and Marcus Harrison continued to miss time with injuries at defensive tackle. That left Cord Gray as the only scholarship player among the defensive linemen for Tuesday. Bledsoe sprained a knee in Saturday's scrimmage. He should return before Saturday night's scrimmage. Harrison will undergo his ACL surgery on Tuesday.
"We may hold out quite a few players Saturday night," defensive coordinator Reggie Herring said. "Weston Dacus won't be out there any more this spring. Freddie Fairchild is done for the spring. We are too thin to risk those two."
Marcus Monk and Jonathon Luigs did not practice Monday because of some work on a special project after class. That gave Robert Felton a chance to take all the snaps with the first unit at center.
"He would be our backup center, Felton would, in the fall," line coach Mike Markuson said. "He did fine today. He's the swing guy up front. He can play several spots. He's a veteran. We are going to give him a lot of work at center the rest of this week."
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