DeCori Birmingham and Carlos Ousley were the last men standing Tuesday as Houston Nutt continued to look at punt returners for the SEC opener with Alabama on Saturday.
Birmingham and Ousley each fielded about 25 punts, with a pair of drops apiece. Arkansas coaches have yet to decide on which one of the wide receivers will be the punt returner against Alabama. Birmingham is a true sophomore. Ousley, who transferred from Wake Forrest, is a redshirt freshman. Ousley has been slowed by a knee sprain this year. He played briefly in the second game after sitting out the opener.
Lawrence Richardson was the punt returner in the opener, and then gave way to Birmingham in the Hogs' second game after letting several punts hit the ground. Marvin Jackson returned punts last year, but is out for the season with a knee injury.
Nutt said the Hogs know they are in for a physical war against the Tide, and said there "were probably going to be some 1-yard plays" in the game. In other words, he wants his team to stay patient when they meet tough resistence from the Alabama defense.
"We had 92 snaps against them last year, and we've looked at a lot of clips of that game," Nutt said. "It's going to be a war. We know that. We know what to expect when we get into SEC play and Alabama is a tough, physical, well-coached team. Our players know that."
The Hogs are in good health. Only Josh Melton is bothered by injuries. He has a knee sprain that might hold him back against Alabama. Dan Doughty is the starter, and Kyle Roper is listed as the backup. Nathan Ball could also take some snaps at center, if necessary. Melton could still be cleared to play in a backup role, too.
The Hogs are coming off an open weekend in which they took Friday, Saturday and Monday off to rest injuries. The Tide has played in each of the first four weeks of the season, compiling a 3-1 record, losing only to highly ranked Oklahoma on the road.
The Hogs coaches said they are preparing as if they will see both Tyler Watts, the injured Bama quarterback, and Brodie Croyle. Watts sustained a foot sprain against Southern Miss. Alabama does not release an injury report unless a player is not expected to play the rest of the season, but Arkansas coaches think Watts will play against the Hogs.