Tuesday Grid Update, 11/13

The Razorbacks know what they'll find in Little Rock, a tough-minded bunch of Bulldogs. The Hogs returned to the practice field with some help at free safety.

Arkansas worked for around two hours in full pads in what coaches and players called a physical, intense workout. The Hogs are trying to rebound from a loss at Tennessee. They play host to Mississippi State in Little Rock at 1 p.m. Saturday.

"We had a good day," Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said. "We got on Mississippi State's schemes today. We worked on what Anthony Dixon does."

Nutt said the scout team had a good day giving the starting units a "good look" on Mississippi State. He said those units "did a very good job and gave us great effort."

The Bulldogs are playing "with great confidence," Nutt said. "They are playing at a high level of intensity. Unlike last year, they have a lot to play for."

Tailback Felix Jones, who sustained a bruised thigh last week against the Vols, did not practice. It could be that he doesn't practice much this week, or at all. Offensive coordinator David Lee said the Hogs are preparing to go without him.

"Some players play well after not practicing," Lee said. "We'll see how he does. But we are getting Michael Smith and Brandon Barnett ready in the WildHog. We want to do some things in those formations (with Darren McFadden) and we have to prepare those players. I believe in Michael Smith. He was the tailback who took all the pounding in the spring. He made a believer out of me."

The Hogs will probably be without left offensive tackle Jose Valdez, hobbled with an ankle sprain. Valdez played sparingly against Tennessee after sustaining the injury late in the South Carolina game the prevous week. Against UT, Ray Dominguez played at left tackle when Valdez couldn't go. It might be different this week.

"We worked Robert Felton (normally the starter at right guard) at left tackle today," Nutt said. "I don't think Jose can play this week. We moved DeMarcus Love up at right guard. That's the plan right now."

The Hogs were a little deeper at free safety on Tuesday. Kevin Woods, out last week after recurring shoulder problems, returned to practice. Walner Leandre, who missed the UT game because of his father's funeral, also returned to workouts Tuesday. Woods worked with the first team on Tuesday.

"We are glad to have them back," Nutt said. "Kevin will be our free safety as long as he can go. We'll look at Leandre there, too."

Rashaad Johnson started and played all the way at free safety against Tennessee, but had problems tackling in the open field. He was the last man on all three of the Vols touchdown runs, as is typical at free safety.

Woods said he felt fine Tuesday after missing his first game because of injuries in his four years on the field with the Hogs. However, no one is convinced he can make it an entire game this week. Woods said his shoulder "has come out" five times this season.

"It comes out of place, then goes right back in," he said. "So far it's gone back in every time on it's own. It feels a lot better this week than it has. A week off was good."

Nutt said the Hogs have had good preparation so far this week. He called Sunday's team meeting and practice very productive and noted better intensity early in the week than was present at the Tennessee game.

"We've talked about it and gotten back to the field and corrected some things," Nutt said. "We've emphasized that a lot of football is left to be played. We have 120 minutes left these next two weeks, starting with Mississippi State.

"This week in Little Rock it will be about intensity, looking in the mirror and deciding who wants it the most. It will be about pad level. It will be about offensive line play. It will be about who makes the fewest mistakes and playing hard from start until the end."

Lee said it was a good Tuesday practice, but there were some rough spots typical of early in the week when a new game plan is installed.

"You guys always talk to me on Tuesday and not later in the week when things are smoothed out," he said. "Today was typcial of what a Tuesday is like. We had some things we need to improve.

"The key thing about this week is being ready to play and I think we will be. We don't know about Felix, but we are going to keep the WildHog in there. We will run it Saturday and we need to get some other guys ready in it.

"What we know about Mississippi State is they are very physical. We've seen that every week from them in looking at film. If you look at other teams, they aren't like that every week. They are the same every week.

"We know we better bring the wood because they are going to bring it. I think our players know that. I think our offensive line had a very good day today."

Quarterback Casey Dick, questioned about his confidence level after being pulled against UT, said he felt fine on Tuesday.

"The confidence is OK," he said. "We all practiced well today. We still have a chance to have a good season. What we have to do is get all 11 playing well at the same time. That's what we are trying to do in practice this week and what we have to do this week in the game.

"It's a big week. We are 6-4. A lot of teams are at six (wins). It's a big week to get a victory for us and a lot of teams."

Hawgs Daily Top Stories