Wednesday Grid Update, 9/26

All-America tailback Darren McFadden was at full speed in Wednesday's workout. Defensive coordinator Reggie Herring talked about the inconsistent play of his unit.

Darren McFadden returned to practice full speed and pronounced himself "100 percent" afterwards as the Arkansas football team prepared for Saturday's nonconference date with North Texas.

"He was very, very fast today," Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said. "I think when he's out here, it lifts everyone."

McFadden sat out Tuesday's workout because of overall soreness, but appeared fit throughout Wednesday's workout. He took the snaps with the first offense and looked sharp and fast.

"We had a good day," Nutt said. "We emphasized not putting the ball on the ground. We wanted to protect the ball. We tried to do that in all areas."

Nutt said that meant both in the running and passing game.

"We are trying to get better on every play, concentrate on that play and improve," Nutt said. "Our receivers are getting better. London Crawford, Reggie Fish, Chris Baker and Carlton Salters -- they all had good days. We are trying to run better routes and secure the ball.

"Our tight ends had a good day. D. J. Williams had a good day. We are trying to find more ways to get him the ball. All of our tight ends had a solid day."

Defensive coordinator Reggie Herring wouldn't go into specifics but answered in the positive that it was an extremely intense practice.

"We got after it very hard," he said. "The warning flags are up, the Hurricane warning or whatever you want to call it. We had better get all guns ablazing and get after it. It's now or never right now. Yes, we got after them.

"We have been pathetic as a defense. We've got to get more consistent in all areas. When you aren't consistent, that means you aren't very good. That's the basic truth."

Nutt said McFadden's practice was typical of the day-to-day work from the All-America tailback.

"He was out here and ran very, very well," Nutt said. "A day off did him some good. He had a good day and that helps the rest of us.

"Overall, we emphasized one play at a time. We've got to get ready for North Texas and their four wideout scheme and that's what we worked on today."

Herring said the North Texas scheme is a different pace than what they've seen the last two weeks.

"We probably need to see some two-back offenses more than this because of what we are going to face later on," Herring said. "We haven't been very good and need to work on two-back stuff. But this is what we'll see, a lot of things we'll have to run nickel and dime and sub out our linebackers.

"What we are going to get this week is to be challenged in space again. It will be their skill against our skill. That's what they will put us into.

"The mistakes we made against Kentucky -- and the things we need to work against -- came against the two-back sets. We can't work on it now to correct it.

"But what we do know is that our pass coverage has not been very attractive. Really, it's been awful. Sometimes we are in position, but we don't make the plays. That's what we've worked on this week, trying to make plays. Now we need to go see if we can do it in games.

"At some points, players have to make plays. What you have to do is practice making plays and that's what we've tried to do.

"We've tinkered and moved some people around. Now we have to go with what we have and try to make plays. We have to get more pressure from our front and eliminate foolish penalties.

"I've been very disappointed. Right now, we are a poor defensive team. If you are not consistent -- and that's us -- it means you are not very good. To get better, you have to win every snap."

Asked about scheme, Herring said it's not so much any area that has been the problem. It's all styles.

"Some of the big plays we've given up have been in the safest coverage, two deep zone with four corners underneath," he said. "You can't get any safer. And, we've given up big plays in it.

"We've gotten in safe stuff and they've thrown underneath, a 5-yard pattern and broken two tackles in space for a 20-yard play. Some of our most critical areas have been when we were in safe coverages.

"At the end of the day, our guys have to be more mature and more dependable. We've decided to play some of our more mature players to get there."

That means playing Elston Forte at weakside outside linebacker instead of redshirt freshman Ryan Powers.

"In Ryan's defense, he really didn't get to play in our first game because of scheme when we were going all nickel and dime," Herring said. "Then, he did alright in our second game, Alabama. But he made mistakes due to inexperience in our last game. He'll get there. He needs time. So we'll go with maturity as he learns. He'll still play, but we moved Forte ahead of him."

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