Thursday Grid Update, 9/20

Arkansas finishes up its workouts for Kentucky by having the coaches put a little fun back in the game and the secondary continuing to work hard after practice.

With the agony of defeat behind it, the Razorbacks are hoping to once again feel the thrill of victory.

Getting that thrill won't be easy with unbeaten and No. 21 Kentucky (3-0) coming to town to meet the University of Arkansas (1-1) Saturday at 5 p.m. in a game that will be nationally televised by ESPN2.

The Razorback coaches certainly tried to do their part at the start of Thursday's one-hour practice with UA assistant Chris Vaughn running 30 yards to blast a tackling dummy.

He was followed by all of the UA coaches, who then dogpiled on said tackling dummy.

"Just wanted to show them the game's still fun," Razorback head coach Houston Nutt said. "Someone makes a play,it's about passion and enthusiasm. Just haven't seen enough of that lately. I think it's important that they know it's still a fun game."

It's no secret that Nutt and his team are happy to be at home this weekend after falling 41-38 at Alabama last weekend.

"Nothing like coming home," Nutt said. " We're excited. It's going to be a packed house. It's going to be very loud. We need (the fans) loud. We need them at their best. We're glad to be home."

Arkansas went several periods working on its special teams before breaking down to touch up its offensive and defensive game plans.

The offense just needs some cleaning up per Nutt.

"Just keep doing what we're doing," Nutt said. "Want to stay on the field, eliminate mistakes, eliminate turnovers. We scored 38 against Alabama, and we stopped ourselves. We should've scored 50. Keep defense on the sideline. Let's score points."

Part of that special teams work was dealing with what to do if the football is kicked away from stars Darren McFadden and Felix Jones.

"We always work on that," Nutt said. "We expected that the first week. We know teams are going to try to kick it away from Darren and Felix."

Arkansas' secondary got lit up for nearly 350 yards and four touchdowns last week against the Crimson Tide and cornerbacks coach Bobby Allen got his troops back to the basics this week in practice.

"The way we handled it first was we looked at film and figured out why we got beat," Allen said. "Lack of technique, first of all. Then they made some good throws, and (DJ) Hall made some good plays. And there was one where Jerell (Norton) lost one in the lights. So now we know, we can't make those same mistakes again.

" Then you come out to practice, and you just work hard like we have this week on our fundamentals," Allen added. "And most important, in this league, you have to have a short memory. If you have a long memory as a corner in this league, you're not going to last very long. There's too much speed. You're going to get beat once in a while."

Arkansas will face an even more highly regarded quarterback this week in Kentucky's Andre Woodson – expected to be the first or second signal caller taken in the 2008 NFL draft.

The Razorbacks will confront Woodson and the Wildcats with a reconfigured secondary that has junior Michael Grant moving up to corner from free safety and senior Kevin Woods taking over at free safety.

"We have to do a great job overall in pass coverage," Nutt said. " Whether it's their tight end, their backs, they have a good rushing game, as well, but they throw to their backs. They have two real good receivers, tight end. Have to do great job all around in the secondary."

Allen says Grant has made the move back to corner smoothly this week.

"He's been good," Allen said. "He's making the transition. Fortunately, he played a lot there when he was a freshman and some as a sophomore. I think as the week went by, he got more confident as he got his technique down."

Woods is also ready per Allen.

"We wouldn't have made the change if we didn't think Kevin was ready to step up and accept that role," Allen said. " He's been productive when he's been out there for us."

Expect Rashaad Johnson to see time at safety as well in the game.

"Rashaad Johnson is a guy who has really come along in practice the last couple weeks," Allen said. "He's made a commitment to say, 'Hey, football's important to me,' and he realized the only way to play on Saturdays was to impress the coaches in practice."

Once again on Thursday, Allen and the defensive backs stayed way past the time everyone else had gone in from practice.

" We're just trying to do all the things like we've done with (former Razorback and NFL cornerbacks) Chris (Houston) and Ahmad (Carroll) and all the other successful guys," Allen said "It's nothing new to keep guys after practice.

"As the season goes on, I get a better idea of where we need to improve and where need to work a little bit after practice," Allen said. "Each week, we just want to get better. We don't want to stay the same, we want to get better."


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