While the University of Arkansas offense got a pick-me-up with a Michael Smith sighting and his limited work, defensive coordinator Willy Robinson was also very pleased with his unit during Wednesday's workout.
"It went really good," Robinson said with a smile after the indoor workout on a rainy Wednesday afternoon. "Today they flew around and picked up things really well. It was really a good Wednesday practice for us."
That's two in a row for the Razorbacks per Robinson, who made it clear that Arkansas players needed to get over the 21-20 loss at Kentucky quickly.
"We stressed the fact that they should have recovered by Monday," Robinson said. "We are all down, but staying down doesn't make you stronger. They did a nice job yesterday. We had some new things and so they struggled with that a little bit, but today they came back and we spun extremely well."
It was the second straight day that Arkansas – trying to get its legs back - shortened practice to around 90 minutes after going longer earlier this season.
"Mentally and physically both," Robinson said. "The thing about our work is that during the year we do have to cut back on some things. Fewer reps and higher energy. It seemed higher energy yesterday and today."
The defense – which was gutted by highly ranked teams earlier tin the season – has put together two pretty good outings against Auburn and Kentucky, who scored two short field touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
That includes coming up with seven turnovers in those two games. That was something they didn't do at all earlier in the season.
"They are executing the defense, running the ball and some of them (turnovers) are stripped balls," Robinson said. "We had two the other night, actually three, but we didn't recover the third. We are rallying to the ball and running to the ball full speed. The thing about tackling is when you bring your arms to tackle the guy to get him down, sometimes you also knock the ball out. People are running to the football."
The defense should have more depth this week as both cornerback Jamar Love and Ernest Mitchell will be able to go this week.
"We are not real sure on that (Love)," Robinson said. "Yesterday he came on and did indo (individual work) and today he took some reps. We are not real sure what his status is. It might be a just-in-case-it-happens deal, in case we need another guy.
"The thing about it is that he came out there on his own and yesterday we were surprised that he dressed," Robinson added. "It's good that he did and he wants to be out there. His reps might not be as a starter, but if there is an accident waiting to happen, he might be out there."
Ramon Broadway will continue to start in Love's spot.
His fourth quarter interception - his second pick of the season - looked like it might seal the deal for the Razorbacks, but obviously didn't when Arkansas turned the ball right back over.
"It was unbelievable," Robinson said, " because I was upstairs looking at it and thinking ‘man, he is three yards behind. Oh, no.' But he did a great job of recovering and really did a nice job in timing his jump and coming down with it."
Razorback fans should expect to see the same offensive scheme from Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt as they did when he was at Arkansas according to Robinson.
"You are probably looking at a mirrored image that you saw when Coach Nutt was here," Robinson said. "They do very the same stuff with all that back in the backfield with the quarterback (Jevan Snead), who is really a fine football player.
"They have a veteran offensive line, good skill people and number 22 (wideout Dexter McCluster, who runs the Wild Rebel) is a special guy," Robinson added. "They have a lot of different weapons and they do a good job of spreading the wealth."
Albeit the Rebels still lean toward the ground instead of the air per Robinson.
"You look at their football team and they are a little bit more favored to the run – probably 60-40," Robinson said. "They move the ball on those special trick plays with all the razzle dazzle and then that kid (Snead) came step up and throw the rock. He makes all the throws."
Robinson said that the current Razorbacks familiarity with the old coaching staff helps.
"It really does," Robinson said. "There is a couple of things that they were able to help us sit down and figure out – how they break out of the huddle, what they are doing, help in recognizing things. We got a lot of input from them."
Ole Miss left tackle Michael Oher (6-5, 318) is a top NFL prospect.
"He is really big, strong and a veteran guy," Robinson said. "There is not anything that he doesn't do well to be honest with you. He is a big, big man and he plays with an attitude. We have to make sure we do a great job on him."
Smith, who suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter of a 192-yard rushing effort against Kentucky, missed practice Tuesday, but did some work on Wednesday.
Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino said Smith got in about 25 minutes of individual work and that he was "very encouraged" about his chances to play on Saturday.
Nathan Dick got the back-up quarterback snaps behind his older brother Casey as true freshman Tyler Wilson – who is out indefinitely - missed practice once again with mononucleosis.
Wednesday Grid Update, 10/22
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