The best news you can have when you are about to play the best team in the country is news that one of your best players is going to see a lot of action.
That's the case with University of Arkansas junior running back Felix Jones, who played only one play last Saturday, but should play plenty against No. 1 LSU Friday afternoon in Baton Rouge.
"Felix looked good," Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt said. "He's going to be there and be ready to go.
"One thing I want to say about Felix, no one wanted to play more (last week) than Felix," Nutt said. "But what he did was encourage his teammates the entire game. That is what you love about Felix Jones. He wanted to play in the worst way, but he got a lot of treatment and he'll be ready to go Friday."
Certainly that's good news to Razorback offensive coordinator David Lee as well.
"It was real good to have him back out there because you have your whole package again," Lee said.
Cornerback Michael Grant also moved around well in a practice that the Razorback staff did hold out defensive end Malcolm Sheppard and cornerback Jerell Norton due to injuries.
"We have got to be smart with him (Grant) with the weather the way it is," Nutt said. "We have to keep him loose, keep it stretched out.
"We did not have Malcolm Sheppard today – he just watched," Nutt added. "Jerell Norton also just watched. It is that time of the year when you have some people banged up, but hopefully we'll be able to get some back."
Arkansas is working with a shortened time frame this week since the game is Friday instead of Saturday and thus practiced Monday – a day they usually do not get in work.
"We had a good practice today," Nutt said. "We wanted until this evening because of labs and we let them get their school work done and then came in here and boy, we had a good practice.
"The offense stayed outside under the lights and played very fast," Nutt said. "The defense went inside and they had a good day. It is a good start of preparation for LSU."
Nutt went up into the stands at Reynolds Razorback Stadium at one point in the practice.
"They were running a couple of plays that I wanted to see that were going to be a little bit different," Nutt said. "I wanted to see how it looked and that's a good view."
Lee knows his offense faces a major challenge going up against the Tigers' defense.
"Eww, man," Lee said. "(Kriston) Pittman, (Chevis) Jackson, (Craig) Steltz – they are all good, really good. There are a bunch of pro prospects to evaluate down in Baton Rouge. They are very deserving of the number one ranking.
"They are limiting teams to 70 yards rushing and number one in practically every category (in the SEC)," Lee added. "We will have our greatest test by far Friday afternoon in Baton Rouge. It will come down to us being able to block them."
LSU's best defender in All-American tackle Glenn Dorsey.
"We haven't avoided anybody all year," Lee said. "You look at them last year and we scored 26 or 28 points or whatever it was. It is mostly the same guys on their defense that are back. We have some new faces, a few in the offensive line, but no, we are not going to avoid him and we are not going to go after him either. We are just to call our plays and hopefully stay on them long enough to get those backs by."
Lee has never coached against a No. 1 team in his long career.
"I have coached 33 years and I have never had that opportunity to play a number one team," Lee said. "I might not be so optimistic here in the next few days."
"I think the deal is not to make a big deal out of playing number one though," Lee said. "If you do, you lose your focus. What wins is one play at a time and execution."
Arkansas will need another solid performance from quarterback Casey Dick to have a chance to win.
Dick was named the SEC's Offensive Player of the Week on Monday after going 14-of-17 for 199 yards and throwing four touchdowns in a 45-31 win over visiting Mississippi State.
"I was pleased and glad it happened for him," Lee said. "He's fought a lot of things since he has been here like a lot of us have. He richly deserves it and I thought he really played well in the game."
Dick was thankful for the honor, which gave Arkansas a double reward since Razorback senior Nate Garner was named the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week.
"It's exciting, but at the same time we have to put that behind us and worry about LSU," Dick said. "We have to worry about this week and not think about last week."
He knows the test ahead.
"We just have to play like we did last week and if we do everything will take care of itself," Dick said. "If we just go down and execute – all 11 on the ball at the same time – I think it will be a good day for us.
"Everybody knows they are good and one of the top defenses in the country," Dick added. "They are ranked up there in the top of every single category. They are good, but we just have to play good, sound, fundamental football."
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