With a game set for the eighth straight weekend, Arkansas tried to take the physical pressure off the team with a lighter regimen on Tuesday. Players said they appreciate the thought from their coaches.
"I was a little shocked," said center Jonathan Luigs after practice Tuesday. "We came in to the locker room about 30 minutes before practice and Tim Cheney said, 'Shells today.' We all kinda looked at each other thinking, 'Could this be right?'"
Indeed, it was correct. It was the first Tuesday practice this season the Hogs were in shorts. That doesn't mean it was an easy practice.
"With Coach (Bobby) Petrino, there are no easy days," wide receiver Lucas Miller said. "We still got after it. But we all knew there wasn't quite as much weight with some of the pads off. Our legs should be better. We tried to move around pretty good to thank them. It was cool and we were glad about it."
Offensive coordinator Paul Petrino laughed a little bit about the perception that it might have been easier.
"It's all up here," Petrino said, pointing to his head. "If they think it's easier, maybe they can get through it a little better. We have been through a grind. This makes our eighth weekend in a row to play. That's tough on players, but they have come to work.
"We had a good day today. We need to get better over the next two days, keep improving. That's what it's all about, getting better as far as picking things up as you move through the week."
The Hogs visit South Carolina and will go against legendary coach Steve Spurrier. Both coaches and players know Spurrier will be on the other sideline.
"We have a lot of respect for him," Paul Petrino said. "We've copied some of the things he does. I remember one year at Idaho, John L. Smith went to see Spurrier. We got some things then. Then, another year at Utah State, all of these Florida tapes showed up at our place. We really studied them.
"You always look at what other people do and try to copy some things. You copy each other. Where we've been we've always looked at his tapes. Certain things they do, we do similar."
Miller knows that is true.
"We have some of their stuff," Miller said. "It's from Coach Spurrier. Hopefully, we can use it against him this week and make it work."
Actually, it will be used against a defense coached by Ellis Johnson. The South Carolina defensive coordinator was at Arkansas for a few days last winter before returning to his home state to coach with Spurrier.
"That was just coaching," Paul Petrino said. "You do what you have to do for your family. We all understood that. His family is from there."
It will be the second time Paul Petrino goes against a Johnson coached defense. He was offensive coordinator when Southern Mississippi beat Alabama a few years ago.
"Actually, I know he was on that staff at Alabama, but he might have been sick and out that week," Petrino said, noting Johnson's bout with cancer. "I do know we beat them 21-0. But I can't remember specifically if that was one of the games he missed when he was sick. It might have been."
Petrino said the Carolina defense is solid. He praised the work of both safeties.
"Their defense does a good job and the safeties are really good," Petrino said. "The safeties tackle well. When safeties tackle well, usually it's a sign of a very good defense."
Petrino said it compares favorably with what the Hogs saw on film the week they played Auburn.
"It's not the same as far as scheme, but it's the same as far as what teams have done against them," he said. "No one has moved the ball much against South Carolina."
Luigs has been impressed with Carolina's defense, too.
"You kinda expect a defensive game," he said. "Their offense has struggled a little bit, but we've struggled on offense some, too. I think it will be a hard-nosed defensive battle."
Luigs said the Hogs are trying to improve their running game after it came to a halt last week against Tulsa.
"Their safeties came down hard in the box," Luigs said. "They had nine up there a lot of the time. You could tell they wanted to make sure that Michael Smith didn't get going. We've got to work on that this week. We have to run the ball better than we did last week."
The Hogs did fare well in the passing game. Some of that was due to some fine blocking by the wide receivers, especially Miller. He had two knockedown blocks on completions. Both of them led to big runs after the catch for a teammate.
"I was a little sore on Sunday," Miller said. "I had not had any of those since high school. They feel good. The thing you know, usually the defensive back feels worse than you do. The ones where they don't see you coming, those are usually pretty good and they don't hurt you as much as they do the defensive back."
Bobby Petrino said they are probably worthy of a video highlight tape the team usually watches on Friday night.
"I hope so," Miller said. "I'd like to finally get on that reel. We all look to see if we made that reel. This may be the week for me. You want to help D. J. Williams. He's pretty good after the catch. He can break tackles and get some extra yards, but it's good if we can get a block and take some of it off him so he doesn't get hit as much. That's what I was trying to do on those plays."
Paul Petrino said the blocking by the wideouts has improved over the season.
"It's actually been pretty good the last couple of weeks, better, but maybe some haven't noticed it as much," Petrino said. "We have worked hard on that. It's an important part of what we do. It's the way you get the big plays after the catch."
Tuesday Grid Update, 11/4
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