Wednesday Grid Update, 9/19

Arkansas coaches and players thought the intensity was at a higher level on Wednesday as the Hogs prepared for Saturday's SEC grid contest with Kentucky.

Arkansas worked hard on special teams, short yardage and goal line situations in what coaches and players termed a good, intense Wednesday workout.

"We want to be very good in the return game, kickoff and punts," Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said. "We want to do a better job in all phases of the kicking game. Kentucky is good in that area and has a very good punt return man. We have to get better in those phases.

"We worked on those areas and really focused on them. We worked hard on special teams.

"We had a good preparation day. It was a good practice."

The Hogs play host to SEC foe Kentucky at 5 p.m. Saturday in a game set for ESPN2.

Peyton Hillis, who left practice early Tuesday with a sore knee, practiced without complications on Wednesday. He was the punt return specialist in the early segments of practice and had no problems with his knee. He did not have any tape, brace or anything else on his knee.

Marcus Monk, out since surgery in August, went through some sessions in practice, but is not ready for game time. He wore a helmet, but no shoulder pads. The team practiced in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts.

"He's anxious to get out there, but he's still a ways away," Nutt said of Monk.

Nutt invited former NFL assistant coach and UA offensive line coach (under Lou Holtz) to address the team at the close of practice.

"He told the team a couple of jokes and then talked about the game of football," Nutt said. "He told them they were a real good football team."

Senior wideout Robert Johnson said Beightol's talk was about "protecting home field and intensity. We had an intense practice. We had a much better Wednesday than we did last week. We didn't have enough intensity last Wednesday. We tried to bring it today."

Defensive coordinator Reggie Herring said the focus is on stopping Kentucky quarterback Andre Woodson, a probable NFL first round choice. He said the 6-5, 240-pound Woodson uses his big frame to see down the field and plays poised football.

"He's very, very accurate, too," Herring said. "That's the tough thing with him, his accuracy. He has good wideouts and they are in sync. You can tell the chemistry between the quarterback and the wide receivers is excellent. It's a systematic thing, too. They are good at what they do.

"They have a good running back, like every one else in the SEC. The good thing for us is recognition. They are a one-back, zone blocking team, just like Alabama. We are seeing some of the same things two weeks in a row and that is helping us as far as seeing things.

"They are very good at what they do. It's like this in the SEC. You see good players every week. The quarterback is very good."

Herring was asked about the practice play of Fred Bledsoe, now listed as the first teamer at tackle with Ernest Mitchell suspended for this game.

"Fred is the starter because Ernest is suspended," Herring said. "We'll find out about Fred this Saturday."

The defensive secondary stayed late with the cornerbacks the last players to leave the practice field. The corners worked on fundamentals late under the instruction of assistant Bobby Allen. Corner Matterral Richardson said his group embraced the extra work.

"The way we played last week, we need it," he said. "All of us know that and we are trying to get better. We are working on our technique, trying to get better. We know the way to get better is to work harder in practice and that's what we are trying to do."

Michael Grant, converted from safety, said his second day at corner went well.

"It was better today than yesterday," Grant said. "I was pretty rusty yesterday. I'm getting it, though. I've played corner before. I came here as a corner. I came in with (Richardson) and now I'm back in there. I came into the meeting room with the corners yesterday and he said, 'Welcome back!'"

Richardson said he knew Grant would do well with the return to corner.

"Mike is an athlete and he can play a lot of places," Richardson said. "It wasn't a problem because he is a team guy. Just like Matt Hewitt last year when he moved from safety to linebacker, you do what the team needs. That's Mike. But he wasn't going to have a problem because of his skills."

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