Tuesday Grid Update, 11/11

Arkansas' older players ran while the youngsters worked out in Walker Pavilion as the Hogs welcomed an open date. The Hogs don't play again until Nov. 22 when they visit Mississippi State.

Quarterback Casey Dick and running back Michael Smith did not practice Tuesday, but all they missed was a stretching period and some running. That's what the varsity did Tuesday, with the reserves, redshirts and scout teamers practicing inside Walker Pavilion.

Dick did not pass a test given by doctors after receving a helmet-to-helmet hit in Saturday's loss at South Carolina. If he had been cleared, he would have taken part in the conditioning run. Michael Smith sat out with a sore shoulder. Smith will take the entire week off to rest his shoulder.

"I think the rest will help both (Smith's) shoulder and his legs," said Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino. "With this injury, he needs a week off."

Petrino wasn't sure when Dick will return to practice. If he's not available Wednesday, Petrino said, "Nathan Dick will jump in there with the ones."

While Petrino wasn't sure about his quarterbacks, he was sure of one thing. The Hogs will hit quite a bit this week. He thought his team lacked a physical attitude against South Carolina.

"I was disappointed in the game," Petrino said. "This is the first time I didn't think we gave our best effort. We were not as physical in this game.

"So today we watched film and talked about it. We had a longer session in meetings before we came out. We need to look in the mirror. Today was a hard day."

Asked if that meant physical practices this week, Petrino said, "We are going to hit this week. We will have some hitting. We have to learn how to be physical again. We have been making stides in a lot of areas, but we have to remember some things. We have gotten better, but we still have a ways to go."

For example, he said offensive linemen need to remember that sled work at the start of practice each day is not punishment, but a chance to improve pad level.

"It's a necessity to keep our pads down," he said. "We have a ways to go there."

Overall, Petrino said the Hogs are "not as good as we are going to be, and we are not as good as we want to be."

Petrino said the Hogs "will hook it up" on Wednesday with some "ones against ones" to test each other with technique and fundamentals.

"This is what you'd like to do in an open date, but you'd like to have it earlier in the season," he said. "That way you can revisit some things you covered in camp. We didn't have that luxury with games eight straight weeks.

"We had tried to take some pressure off the legs in the last few weeks to get through that stretch, but it's obvious we need to get back to doing some things to be more physical."

In the meantime, there will be more sessions like Tuesday with the young players, including quarterbacks Ryan Mallett and Jim Youngblood. Petrino praised the work of both redshirt quarterbacks. He said they looked good in both seven-on-seven drills and team sessions on Tuesday.

"We kept the freshmen receivers with that group of redshirts, too, and got them some more work," Petrino said. "We will keep these same guys after practice the next two days. We will have long practices because we'll work the ones who are going to play in the games, and then we'll keep the young ones afterwards for another practice.

"It will be more physical this week. We are going to coach them harder and do some harder things after the way we played this past week. We tried to pull back a little, now it's time to bang heads a little bit."

Petrino said he is pleased with his group of redshirt freshmen. He said nose tackle Alfred Davis would be in the rotation now if the decision to redshirt hadn't been made earlier in camp.

"He came in about 25 pounds heavy, but he's in shape now and he's playing well," Petrino said. "He's had a great redshirt year. He's going to be a good player. He could be playing with the way he's practicing now.

"Matt Marshall is doing well, too. He's at safety right now, but I'm not sure that's his final position. He is a big, fast athlete and he might be a linebacker. He likes receiver, and we just don't know yet where he'll play. Experience is the thing that kept him from playing this year. He looks the part. He's big and he can run.

"Matt Hall has had a good redshirt year at offensive tackle. He's gotten all the reps at No. 2 tackle all year. He's prepared each week like he's going to play. We are pleased that we've been able to hold on to his redshirt. That's going to really help our team the next four years. He's done well.

"Austin Eoff is an offensive lineman who is coming off (knee) surgery. He lost 35 pounds and is working his way back up and is at a better weight. He's a center-guard type and he has real good hips and bend. He's done well.

"Brian Christopher is a defensive end who has really worked hard to give us good looks on the scout team. He's a hard worker and is doing well in the weight room. He just needs to keep working in the weight room and he'll be able to help at some point. He's a good-looking young player, too.

"We have two freshmen linebackers we like, Tenarius Wright and Jelani Smith. Both of them had injuries. Wright had a high ankle sprain and missed three weeks of camp. We just had to redshirt him at that point. Jelani played earlier, then broke some fingers in his hand. At that point, we made a decision to hold him out and we are hopeful that we can get a medical redshirt with him.

"I think both of them will really help our linebacker rotation next season. I think they are two real good young linebackers."

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