From the look of Tuesday's practice, Grant Cook and Grant Freeman aren't going to turn loose of their starting spots in the offensive line without a fight.
Cook was at guard and Freeman was at tackle with the first units when the Hogs hit the practice field Tuesday in full pad preparations for Auburn. DeMarcus Love and Ray Dominguez, both of whom missed last week's Florida game, were also at practice and working the second team.
"They both performed well in the game, were very competitive and tough," said offensive coordinator Paul Petrino. "Both of them had good practices today."
Are those two positions open for competition this week?
"I think all of our spots are open," Petrino said. "On this team, it's a competitive situation at every position out there -- maybe with the exception of Michael Smith at running back and Jonathan Luigs at center. We don't have any place where someone has it locked up."
Petrino said it was a good Tuesday practice. He said the Hogs showed some improvement against Florida and some of that may have had to do with a simplified game plan. Are the Hogs going to keep it simple this week against Auburn?
"That's an interesting thing, because what we do on offense is sometimes contingent on how much the other team has on defense, how much they have in," Petrino said. "What you saw in Florida is that they didn't do a whole lot of things. Auburn is like that, too. They don't do a lot of things, but it's different. Where Florida was a zone blitz team, Auburn is more man blitz. It's about the defensive plan as to how much we have in."
Auburn has put pressure on all of the opposing quarterbacks.
"That's what they've seen, they have gotten after the quarterbacks," Petrino said. "They have made a lot of quarterbacks uncomfortable and not very accurate. They can beat you up front and they have real speed at the linebacker position. They've forced turnovers and that's had a direct impact in their games. We've got to do a good job of protecting the ball. That doesn't mean we are going to limit the things we do. We have to just do a good job of avoiding turnovers."
Petrino said the Hogs had "good intensity and good concentration" on Tuesday. They went inside Walker Pavilion because of light rains. He praised wide receivers Joe Adams and Greg Childs. He also noted that Jarius Wright had switched to the inside wide receiver position in the three-man receiver rotation.
"The last two games, you saw Jarius on the field more," Petrino said. "He's not at the same position as Joe Adams anymore and he's getting more time. Jarius wasn't as good today as he's been. Greg Childs had a good day today. He was kinda nicked up last week and didn't get as much time, but he was good Sunday night in our workout and he was good again today. I'd think that would mean he'll get (in the game) more this week."
Petrino said the two receivers who have progressed the most since the start of the season have been Adams and London Crawford.
"You've seen both of them get better each week, in practice and in games," Petrino said. "With Joe, it was a matter of practicing harder. I've had to get on him to practice hard. He's doing a better job of that although he could have done a little better than he did today.
"Joe Adams was in a position -- like a lot of our freshmen -- that he had to play. He's starting to catch on. He'll be really good some day. The more I can get him to practice hard, the better he's going to be."
Petrino was asked about quarterback Casey Dick's performance against Florida.
"Casey was pretty good for the first three quarters," he said. "Our checks were very good and he did well. But it's not about one guy. It's about all 11."
Grant Cook and Grant Freeman were two of the offensive players who stayed afterwards to meet with the media. Both were all smiles about getting their first significant playing time as Razorbacks. Both were joking about their time with the media afterwards with one of them doing the ESPN SportsCenter theme as they walked away.
"I'm a little more confident today than I was last week after getting that much time in a game," Cook said. "I guess I wasn't as nervous as I might have expected. You get in a couple of plays and the butterflies go away and it's like practice.
"When you are in practice, there are times that you might get bumped up to the first group for a few plays and you are pretty nervous because you know it's going to be over soon. The other guy will be back. You knew this time it wasn't going to be like that. You were going to be out there and you get to where you just play the game. The game wasn't as nerve wracking as that.
"You watch the film and you see what you can improve. You can always improve. And, I'm working to improve. But it was alright."
Freeman didn't start, but was on the field after just one play when Michael Aguirre went down with an injury. Teammates said he was smiling when he entered the huddle.
"A lot of the guys did say that," he said. "I guess I was just really excited and glad to be out there. You want to play. I didn't expect it because Aguirre is a proven player. He's done well in games and practice. I expected him to be out there for the entire game."
Freeman had practiced the strongside tackle (where Dominguez and Aguirre work) in the spring, but not this fall.
"So that was new," he said. "I got some good help from both Wade Grayson and Jonathan Luigs on the plays. It's a different position, but it's all about learning the offense in this system -- not just memorizing plays for one position. The coaches teach you the offense. So you listen to the play, listen for where the back is going to be and that tells you how to execute the block. So that's what I was doing, just understanding the block that was called. So in that way, it wasn't such a big transition."
Michael Smith wasn't surprised at the way Cook and Freeman clicked.
"We work with both lines and we see them play," Smith said. "I knew the holes were going to be the same. You are taught to trust your line, and I do."
Smith was praised earlier this week by head coach Bobby Petrino for the way he's prepared his body to play. That has meant being in the training room at 6:30 a.m. on most days.
"Really, it's not that big a deal," he said. "I have 7:30 class. So if I'm going to see the trainer each morning, it has to be that early. I lay my clothes out the night before, so I don't have to get up that much earlier."
Smith has made sure to avoid cramps and muscle pulls with a heavy dose of ice baths during the day.
"I do things like get the cool baths, stretching and things to help my flexibility," he said. "It's three or four times a day. It's what you do to play this game. It's a physical game. You better be ready for it. It's what you have to do to play the game of football. Yes, I'm there when the trainer gets there at 6:30. It's what I have to do to be ready to play."
Cornerback Jamar Love did not practice Tuesday. Love missed some snaps against Florida because of a hand injury. He went to the locker room briefly, but returned to play later in the game.
Tuesday Grid Update, 10/7
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