Thursday Grid Update, 8/16

Arkansas coach Houston Nutt didn't have much to report on the positive side after Thursday's workout as the Hogs continued fall camp.

Arkansas didn't finish what it started Thursday so head coach Houston Nutt ended things early followed with a series of conditioning runs and up and downs for the entire squad.

"We were a little bit sluggish today," Nutt said. "We were not as fast as I'd like. We'll turn around and go early in the morning and see if we can do it a little better."

Nutt ended the workout 15 minutes early after some miscues on both sides of the ball. The offense had some mistakes, but the defense wasn't sharp either, giving up four long passes for touchdowns.

"There is not much good to report," Nutt said. "I know they are tired. I know it's hot. But you have to come to play every day. You can't fake toughness. You can't fake sacrifice."

Asked if it was offense or defense messing up, he said, "Both. We gave up some deep balls. (The offense) got behind (the defense) all day. We haven't had that happen in a few years like that."

Actually, the offense scripted five deep passes in a row. Nutt said four of them went for completions. Two of the completed bombs came from the arm of Casey Dick. One each came from Nathan Emert and Nathan Dick.

Asked if the problem on the deep passes was the result of poor play by the cornerbacks or the safeties, Nutt said, "Corners ... but the safeties have to bear some responsibility there, too. The thing was, the corners got some picks in individual work coming up and they got to looking for that and they gave it up deep (in team)."

There were some missed handoffs and miscues in the Wildcat Package. Nutt said part of that was understandable because it had not been the focus in several days.

"We hadn't hit on that, working on the passing game the last few days," Nutt said. "We know what to do there. We'll work on that and get it right."

Several mainstays were still out of practice. Tackle Nate Garner, fullback Peyton Hillis and tight end Ben Cleveland all sat out. Garner is out because of precautionary reasons after a concussion. Hillis is bothered by a sore hamstring. Cleveland has a shoulder stinger. Placekicker/punter Jeremy Davis was out with a sore nerve in his foot.

"Peyton wanted to come back out here today and is frustrated (trainers held him back,)," Nutt said. "He wants to play 14 games and is tired of being hurt. I think he's almost ready. Ben is going to the doctor to check on his (injury) in the morning. He feels a lot better. Nate, we are just being real careful since it was a concussion. He should be back soon."

Cornerback Shedrick Johnson took a spill, landing hard on his back and missed the final plays of the practice. His injury was not thought to be serious.

Filling in for Hillis and Cleveland and playing several roles in practice, true freshman D. J. Williams continues to impress.

"He's doing a lot for us right now," Nutt said. "I meant to say something about him the other day. He's really a mature guy and continues to make plays. He's going to have a role. With Peyton and Ben out, he's getting a lot of work and he's doing well."

Williams had to sit out some plays early in the week after taking a solid hit from tackle Ernest Mitchell in a scrimmage.

"I don't remember all of what happened," he said. "I remember watching the film the next day and seeing some plays I was in that I didn't remember. That's what happens when you get to this level. You are playing with some big boys."

Williams said he's excited to be getting so much action and doesn't mind the multiple positions.

"I was recruited to play behind Peyton and Ben so with them out, I assumed I'd get more," he said. "I do not feel any pressure. This is what I came here for."

What part of the package does he like?

"Really, I like it all," he said. "I played H-back, tight end, flanker and running back in high school. I like, well, going in motion, all of it. I think doing all of those things is fun."

Defensive tackle Malcolm Sheppard sounded like Williams when he discussed his move from end. Sheppard said he likes playing anywhere and everywhere in Reggie Herring's defense.

"They asked me to move and that's fine with me," he said. "Tackle is fine. I'm learning and getting better at it. I think I'm handling the double teams OK. That's part of playing tackle, taking two blockers to free up a linebacker.

"I am not the biggest guy at 270, but I listen to Coach (Tracy) Rocker tell me 'where there is a will there is a way,' and that's all I think about. You fight through it best you can. You know that's your role and you know what, the linebacker is free because of it.

"Coach Rocker has encouraged me. I listen to Coach Herring encourage me and I know I can do it. That's all I need to hear."

What about the running at the end of practice?

"If the coaches think we need gassers and up and downs, it's going to help us get better," Sheppard said. "We will come back strong in the morning."

Quarterback Casey Dick felt the same way.

"I think we came out today and relaxed a little bit," Dick said. "We'll get better. We'll come out and play harder in the morning."

The quarterbacks had their good and bad moments in the team session. Nathan Dick struggled with some of the reads in the execution of the base offense.

"That's what we meant that yesterday when we said we'd continue to give him things," Nutt said. "He has a ways to go, but he is doing some good things. He struggled today when things got going fast. It's not easy. There is a lot to take in at that position. It comes at you pretty fast. We'll keep working him and get him accustomed to it, but it's tough for a true freshman at this point."

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