Tuesday Grid Update, 9/25

Heavy rains forced Arkansas inside on Tuesday where the Hogs spent extra time on the passing game. A "sore" Darren McFadden did not practice.

Afternoon thunderstorms sent Arkansas inside Walker Pavilion for a two-hour workout in full pads. The Hogs spent over half of their offensive snaps trying to improve a passing game that has struggled.

"Every other play in team was pass and of course we spent all of pass skeleton working on the pass," said David Lee, offensive coordinator.

Lee said he was probably too rough on quarterback Casey Dick immediately after the game. He thinks the junior has played well enough for the Hogs to have won.

"I don't want to blame him," Lee said. "He's played well enough he shouldn't be blamed (for poor production in the passing game) in our first three games.

"I've tried to look at me (as coach) and tried to find what I could do (to improve the passing game). I see that we are not making many catches and I see that D. J. Williams has made good catches. We want to try find more ways to get the ball to him."

Lee said there are aspects of the passing game that are working, but not enough.

"Our pass protection has been good enough," he said. "We've been good in our play-action. We have not been very good in third and long.

"We've had some drops that have stopped drives. I think there is a fine line between being too tough and I was probably a little harsh with Casey after the game."

The Hogs rested some front-line players and made some personnel moves elsewhere on Tuesday.

Tailback Darren McFadden did not dress out for the workout, but should be back on Wednesday. Head coach Houston Nutt called McFadden sore. Nutt said trainer Dean Weber advised that it would be good to give the junior All-America a day off.

"He's just beat up right now, as are a lot of our players right now," Nutt said.

Nutt was asked if the pass play in the second half in which McFadden ran into the umpire over the middle was a contributing factor to his soreness. Nutt said, "He got twisted up on that one, yes he did."

Running backs coach Tim Horton said, "Darren will be fine. He'll be back at practice on Wednesday. he really wanted to go today, but we held him out."

Horton said McFadden's absence gave the Hogs a chance to give extra work to sophomore tailback Brandon Barnett.

"Brandon had a good day," Horton said. "He picked up a lot of things very well. He did a nice job picking up blitzes. He does not have the same acceleration of Darren and Felix (Jones), but who does?"

Defensively, Ernest Mitchell, suspended last week, returned to the starting lineup at right tackle. Marcus Harrison, who played the last two games at end, was moved to backup left tackle. Elston Forte moved ahead of Ryan Powers in the starting lineup at weakside outside linebacker.

"We are trying to push some buttons at some spots on defense," Nutt said of the lineup changes. "Harrison is back inside. We feel he will be more productive in there.

"Elston Forte is a little older (than Powers) and has been improving all along, but Powers will still be heavily involved."

Nutt said wide receivers Carlton Salters, London Crawford and Chris Baker "stepped up" in Tuesday's practice. He also said Robert Johnson was improved after being slowed by a sore toe last week.

Quarterback Casey Dick said it was a good day in the passing game. It may have helped that Dick and several wideouts went to the practice field on Monday, normally a day off.

"We were in a meeting room watching film on Monday and I just asked if the wideouts wanted to work some," Dick said. "So some of the guys who were there then went and worked with me. I just wanted to try to build some confidence. Monday is usually a day to watch film, but I grabbed London Crawford and Lucas Miller and we went in the indoor area and did some things.

"We have to find a way to get things going. I thought that might be something that would help."


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