Thursday Grid Update, 10/25

Marcus Monk didn't practice on Thursday, but Arkansas coach Houston Nutt expects the senior wide receiver will play this weekend against Florida International.

Arkansas finished on-the-field preparations for this weekend's nonconference date with Florida International with a one-hour practice split between the outdoor workout area and Walker Pavilion.

"The first half was outside, with some special teams and kicking segments," Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said. "We came inside for the team periods and we finished with the two-minute drill. I believe we are ready to go."

Nutt said senior wide receiver Marcus Monk did not practice, but should be available for some plays Saturday against FIU.

"Marcus is going to try to go in the game," Nutt said. "He will definitely play."

Sophomore wide receiver London Crawford did not practice. Crawford sustained a pinched nerve against Ole Miss. He tried to practice on Wednesday, but sustained a sprained knee in that workout. He will not play against FIU. Wide receiver Robert Johnson (ankle) is also out for FIU.

"Our wideouts have been hit by injuries and that's the way it is sometimes," he said. "We will go with the hand that is dealt."

Nutt said he is hopeful that Monk's return can help the passing game. Asked what it could mean, he said, "Points, hopefully. We'll see what he can bring. Hopefully, we can keep the ball longer, convert some third downs. That's what we hope he helps."

Asked if tailback Darren McFadden is back to full speed after some bumps and bruises slowed him earlier this year, Nutt said, "He looks close (to full speed) now. He may be back to where he was before the Alabama game. He looks ready to go to me."

The Hogs hope to play better than their last nonconference game, a victory over Tennessee-Chattanooga that was in doubt deep in the second half.

"You don't take anyone lightly," Nutt said. "You better play hard every time out."

Assistant coach Bobby Allen said the cornerbacks, his specialty area, continues to improve, but he's far from satisfied.

"We aren't there yet," Allen said. "We did alright in the Ole Miss game and made more plays than we've made in the past few weeks, but we have still got to keep working.

"Jamar Love had a solid game. He made some plays. He got a few more snaps. He's working hard.

"The main thing we are working on is to keep the intensity every day in practice."

The Hogs will see plenty of variations in formations against FIU this weekend. Love and Jerrell Norton are both likely to see action as the third and fourth defensive backs when the Hogs go to nickel and dime coverages.

"They go from two backs to empty (with no backs) and change back and forth," Allen said. "You don't know from week to week what they'll do most. So we have to be ready for both. We'll have to change our personnel as the game goes along."

Allen said freshmen cornerbacks Isaac Madison and Greg Gatson continue to improve, although neither is seeing much action. Madison is playing on special teams, covering gunners in punt return situations.

"Madison is a little further along than Gatson right now and he may be a little ahead as far as athletic ability, too," Allen said. "Both of them are working hard and getting better."

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