Wednesday Grid Update, 11/7

Arkansas practiced under the lights in the stadium on Wednesday as practice continued for a trip to Rocky Top. The injury report was much better.

Arkansas moved onto Frank Broyles Field for the bulk of Wednesday's practice, taking advantage of the lights in Reynolds Razorback Stadium for a practice in sweats and shoulder pads.

"It was a good day for the most part," head coach Houston Nutt said. "We hit every phase of the game and went over the game plan."

Nutt said many of the Hogs' lengthy injury list were able to work, but the Hogs were short handed at free safety where Kevin Woods is nursing a shoulder problem and Walner Leadre, junior transfer, left the country to attend his father's funeral in Haiti.

"Walner will not be with us this week," Nutt said. "His father's funeral is Saturday. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family."

Offensive tackle Jose Valdez, bothered by a sore ankle, did return to practice after sitting out Tuesday. Wide receivers Marcus Monk and Robert Johnson also returned after sitting out the previous days. All three are expected to play.

"Jose did a little more," Nutt said. "We think all three of those can play this week. Jose should get better each day. If he can't go, will start Ray Domingues at left tackle."

Offensive line coach Mike Markuson said Valdez has proven to be a quick healer and tough, too.

"He's played through a bad ankle on the other foot earlier this year, a lot like this," Markuson said. "We think he'll be fine. He thinks that, too. He's had this before and was ready pretty quickly."

Defensive coordinator Reggie Herring expressed concern over the balance of the Tennessee attack. He said a "50-50 team" is the toughest to prepare for.

"A team that can both pass and run equally well, like this, is very difficult," he said. "What impresses you is the decisions with the ball that the quarterback, Erik Ainge, makes consistently. He's a veteran player.

"What you notice is that they've played a bunch of games and they don't get sacked. They have three sacks on the season. That's unreasonable or unrealistic to even think about. They do a good job in their protections and the quarterback makes good decisions in a hurry. We'll have our hands full."

Still, Nutt said the Hogs have to be prepared to stop the run first.

"We know that is always the first thing to get stopped," he said. "We know (Coach David) Cutcliffe and that he's going to want to run the ball. They do a good job there and they have a great screen game. They have a very good scheme and give you a lot to worry about.

"And, we know we are going to get their best effort. They have a lot to play for, tied for the East lead. We know it's going to be a hostile environment and an excited team. How many do they have in that place, almost 110,000. It will be loud. We played music in the stadium today to prepare for the noise factor."

Speaking of having their hands full, that's what Markuson said about his offensive guards.

"We played well at offensive guard last week, but the two inside players for Tennessee are very, very good," he said. "They've played well in their big games. We know they are going to roll out against us and be very good. We know what to expect and our guards will have all they can handle this week.

"Their ends are athletic and that's going to be a job, too. The defensive front is outstanding. We know they are going to be excited for this game and give us their best shot."

Tailback Darren McFadden, recalling his big night against Tennessee last week, knows he'll see the best effort from the Vols.

"I expect they've prepared for the Wildhog plenty this week," McFadden said. "I think they are probably working an hour a day. So we know we are going to see a team well prepared for what we did against them last year. We have to be ready for that."

Herring talked about stopping Tennessee's offense, but said the best thing that could happen was another strong outing by the Arkansas offense in the run game.

"I loved that," he said. "In reality, what happened last year at South Carolina took place again this past week, with our offense running out the clock. I'd love that again."

There were reports of Herring kissing offensive line coach Mike Markuson square on the lips after the South Carolina game.

"That's what I'm told," Herring said. "I guess I did. I'll tell you what, if the (offensive line) plays like that again, I'll do it again. What I will tell you, he needs to shave. He's not very pretty."

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