Thursday Grid Update, 8/23

The Hogs are ready to hit someone else and find out if they still have some smashmouth ability. Players and coaches alike seem to be ready mentally to play a game.

Arkansas went inside to escape the heat on Thursday. One of the highlights was the return of All-SEC center Jonathan Luigs after missing two days with the stomach flu.

"It's good to get Jonathan back," Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said. "You see the things he does with calls. He makes a big difference."

Nutt said the Hogs "flew around on defense" and had an overall good day. Offensively, he worries that the team has not regained its physical nature after concentrating on the pass heavily in the spring.

"That is always a concern, can you be physical, can you protect?" he said. "We are working hard on that."

Offensive line coach Mike Markuson said the Hogs won't know about their physical nature "until we play a game. I think we are getting bored with practice. It's the time of year when you really just need to go play a game."

However, Markuson expects an inexperienced unit to perform well in the opener against Troy on Sept. 1.

"This is kinda like we were two or three years ago when we replaced four guys," Markuson said. "It's three this year. We've got some experience. But you want to see how they do when they get beat up in a game, how they respond to getting elbowed in the ribs, catch a helmet under the face mask. You can't find out some things until you go 70 plays in a game.

"I think we'll do well, but you just have to go play at some point. We are close to that point right now."

Markuson praised sophomore Michael Aguirre for his work over the last two weeks. Aguirre played tackle when starter Nate Garner missed seven days after a mild concussion. He moved to guard Tuesday and Wednesday when Luigs was out and replaced by starting guard Robert Felton.

"Mike has done well at tackle and guard," Markuson said. "He has done well at both spots. He knows tackle and guard. Felton knows right guard and center and can play tackle, too. Ray Dominguez is the backup at guard and tackle on the left side. We are working Wade Grayson at left guard, too, but we'd like to redshirt him."

Mitch Petrus is the starter at left guard. Jose Valdez remains the starter at left tackle. DeMarcus Love, slated to be the backup at left guard, has been out with a dislocated knee cap for the last week.

"Love is still limping," Markuson said. "I am not sure he will be ready for the first game."

Nutt said London Crawford has a thigh bruise, but seems to be improving. The head coach said Crawford continues to improve. Wideouts Chris Baker, Crosby Tuck, Reggie Fish and Robert Johnson also drew mention from the head coach.

Nutt said he was "proud" of true freshman Damario Ambrose, D. J. Williams and Alex Tejada for their solid fall. He also praised true freshman deep snapper Rhett Richardson, although he said Richardson continues to battle returnee Barrett Reynolds for the snapper's job. Nutt said a decision would be made there on Thursday night.

"We'll get you a depth chart on Friday morning," Nutt said.

Asked if he planned to play two quarterbacks in the first game, he said, "It will depend on the game. If it's close, we'll stick with one."

Quarterback Nathan Emert got some extra work with quarterback coach David Lee and wideout London Crawford after practice Thursday. They went to the practice field after the rest of the team had finished in Walker Pavilion.

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