Wednesday Grid Update, 10/24

Marcus Monk does enough on Wednesday to make UA head coach Houston Nutt believe he will play on Saturday while the Razorback coaches continue to rail away against a possible letdown against Florida International (0-7), the team with the nation's longest losing streak at 19.

While Razorback senior wideout Marcus Monk apparently will play on Saturday, it sounds like the University of Arkansas coaches are really trying to make sure its team gets the fact that Florida International will as well.

Such is life when you are the Razorbacks (4-3) about to host the Panthers (0-7) - the team with the nation's longest current losing streak at 19 – in a 1 p.m. non-conference game.

"What is always tough is when you step out of conference and you want them focused because there is so much parity in college football," Nutt said. "What we are trying to convince our guys is don't look at the record. They are enough athletes or the other side of the field every given Saturday. Anything can happen."

UA defensive coordinator Reggie Herring is certainly preaching that same sentiment.

"I can tell that these are the hardest games to coach ever," Herring said. "For anybody to make a joke about our opponent or who we are playing really is either in a daze or another time zone.

"It is not hard to get up for Auburn, it is not hard to get up for LSU, it is not hard to get up for South Carolina," Herring added. "These games challenge you most as a coach and as a player because all you do is read they haven't won a game, they are no good, creampuffs and all that stuff.

"We are fighting all this intangibles and the dynamics of the environment – you have got softness all around you," Herring continue. "You are supposed to win, but hey they are easy. Dealing with young people, it is very, very hard and is a major challenge for coaches. I promise you."

The Razorbacks could certainly get some energy from the return of Monk, who caught 50 passes last season but has been out all season.

He went through another practice on Wednesday with no swelling and seems ready to finally get some snaps.

"He's sore, but he really pushed through it again today and had a good practice," Nutt said. "Really for the first time I feel confident he will at least get some plays. I don't know how many, but he'll get some. No swelling, just sore."

"I think it is very important for his psyche, getting confident in coming down with a catch and somebody tackling him – all those things that he hasn't done since he hasn't played in awhile," Nutt added. "It is just a mind thing."

UA star running back Darren McFadden is excited about the fact that Monk will be out on the field this weekend.

"He is looking real good," McFadden said. "He stills runs with a limp, but that knee is looking real good."

Fellow injured wideout London Crawford, who hurt his neck while making a catch over the middle at Ole Miss last Saturday, was back in practice on Wednesday after missing Tuesday's workout.

"Crawford was out for a little while and then got re-injured," Nutt said.

Senior wideout Robert Johnson definitely will not play to rest a sore ankle, but did chip in by throwing passes to the wideouts during drills.

Nutt says the two practices this week have not been as crisp as he would like.

"There are some good things, but it has been too up and down," Nutt added. "We need to be very, very consistent. For the most we have been consistent, but again when you hear things about they hadn't won a game in 19 games, they haven't done this – you just have guard against that and you have to work hard selling it the other way."

Arkansas wants to build off last week's 44-8 road thrashing of Ole Miss instead of suffering a letdown.

"What you are trying to do is get the best out of them and build off the win and what we did at Oxford," Nutt said.

Arkansas does not want to have a repeat of its blasting of North Texas followed by a struggle against Tennessee-Chattanooga.

"You try to reach down and draw off that," Nutt said, "but our guys have practiced hard the last couple of days and you appreciate that, but it's just when they read things and hear things, you try to draw from that game. That is a perfect example."

The best thing would be to obviously jump out front early as they did against the Rebels by scoring touchdowns on their first three possessions.

"We are using that in a very positive manner because whether it be the kick-off team, kick-off return team, we need to start off fast and give them no hope early and then finish the job."

Herring does not want another letdown as his team suffered in its last back-to-back games with teams that had losing records.

"It goes back to North Texas," Herring said. "We played basically flawless. We were ready, we played like we were capable of and that was the end result.

"But then you play UTC back-to-back and to sustain it for two weeks in a row, we slopped around, we didn't do things very well and then all of a sudden it's here we go," Herring said.

The defensive coach noted that stopping Florida International – who has just scored 56 points total this season and no more than 16 in any one game – will be slowing down quarterback Wayne Younger.

"FIU – it all starts with their quarterback," Herring said. "He is a very talented, athletic young quarterback. Their skill people get your attention as far as running backs and wideouts, but the quarterback is where it all starts.

"He is their leading rusher," Herring added. "They have a great package for him with the quarterback running the football and they have an excellent two back run-offense."

Miami downed Florida International 23-9 in week 3, a far different out than a 59-0 loss at Penn State and 55-3 loss at Kansas.

"If you look at the Miami game, they really got after Miami and it was a very close game," Herring said. "They had some nice runs against Miami and blocked Miami pretty good – enough to give you a concern."

"They are multiple offensively and you will see every personal package that there is in football," Herring said. "You have to prepare for a lot."

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