Arkansas practiced for two hours Tuesday, just beating a thunderstorm which swept through the Ozarks in the late afternoon. The Hogs finished the day with a scrimmage pitting freshmen, redshirts and walkons.
UA coach Houston Nutt said the Hogs made improvement in several areas and spent the day working on fundamentals in all areas with an open date this week. The Hogs travel to Alabama on Sept. 15 for their SEC opener.
Matterral Richardson did not practice after having a wisdom tooth pulled. Kareen Crowell returned to workouts. DeMarcus Love didn't practice and may still be "four or five days away," according to the head coach. Peyton Hillis "rolled an ankle" during the workout, but returned later in the practice.
The Hogs looked at Hillis and Jerell Norton as punt returners along with Reggie Fish and Michael Smith, the two punt returners who struggled to make clean catches in the 46-26 victory over Troy.
Senior defensive end Marcus Harrison, suspended for the opener after an arrest, returned to practice and may be available against Alabama, according to Nutt.
"We brought Marcus back," Nutt said. "He needs us. With what Rodger Hunter is doing with him and after talking with his family, and finding out a lot of things on him, we wanted to bring him out here with us."
Could he play against Alabama?
"Right now, let's just see what happens," Nutt said. "Right now, he might be available. He still has a lot of responsibilities right now."
As far as practice, Nutt said the open date "came at a good time. We got a lot of people a lot of attention."
Nutt had praise for quarterback Casey Dick's play against Troy, mostly for the way he handled game management situations.
"The offense had a rhythm, it was managed properly," Nutt said. "He managed the clock. He made the proper checks. He will get better, too. He will get the ball down the field."
Quarterback coach and offensive coordinator David Lee said if anyone was disappointed with Dick's play against Troy, it should be on the playcaller.
"Put it on me because he did the things I wanted," Lee said. "I wanted to get the ball in the hands of our backs. I will not apologize for getting the ball to No. 5 (Darren McFadden) and No. 25 (Felix Jones). If people didn't like that, then they are going to continue to be disappointed because I want to keep doing that. When we do that, big things happen.
"We'll get the ball to the wideouts. We added a couple of things today that will help that. But Casey did some good things. He checked (to different plays at the line) 12 times. He did a great job of getting us in the right play. I was very pleased after watching the film."
Interestingly, Dick's younger brother, quarterback Nathan Dick, had a solid practice Tuesday, just as Casey did.
"Nathan got a lot of reps today and he looked pretty good," Lee said. "His (hip flexor injury) did not bother him today. He got quite a lot of work. We let him handle all of the scrimmage at the end and he got knocked around and held up. I think he was sacked three times and he popped up and kept going. I think that's a good sign (with his injury)."
Asked if Nathan Dick had a good day, Nutt said, "Oh, yeah. Yes, he did. He looked a lot better."
Offensive line coach Mike Markuson liked what he saw against Troy for the most part.
"We had some good things and some not so good things," he said. "Our tackles and our center were all very good. The guards were not as good. Our guards have to get better. I thought there were times we did some good things, but we can get better.
"Petrus and Felton can play better than that and they will. We worked hard on pad level today for all of our linemen. We can get lower and be more physical. There were times we stepped wrong and turned someone loose. As a coach, I want perfection and all the right steps. We weren't there yet and we have two weeks to get better.
"We are going to step up in speed and size this week. We know that. This is the big boys. This is the SEC and we know it will be different. So we have some work to do in the next two weeks. You've got to step right and have the right pad level when you are in SEC play."
Tuesday Grid Update, 9/4
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