Wednesday Grid Update, 11/12

Defensive coordinator Willy Robinson said his unit played "soft" in certain areas in last week's loss at South Carolina. The Hogs went about the task of fixing that problem Wednesday with a physical workout in the stadium.

Arkansas defensive coordinator Willy Robinson didn't see the point of emphasis drills in Wednesday's practice inside Reynolds Razorback Stadium. So he couldn't really tell reporters after the workout what happened in the middle drill and inside team run when a physical attitude was stressed by head coach Bobby Petrino.

"I was on the other end in the individual work with (receivers and defensive backs)," Robinson said. "I'd like to tell you we got better, but I need to see it on film. About the only thing I can tell you is it sounded like football from where I was at on the other end. I could hear the pads popping."

Petrino promised Tuesday that there would be plenty of hitting during this open week before next week's trip to Mississippi State. In fact, he said, "We are going to bang heads this week."

The Hogs spent the entire practice inside the stadium where the grass was green from some heavy over seeding done with winter grass a couple of weeks ago. The white pants and white jerseys reflected time on the grass from the tackling and hitting drills conducted throughout the workout.

"I didn't think it was a good day for the defense for the team aspect of the drills," Robinson said. "In some of the periods, I thought the offense held the upper hand. In the run portion, they wore us out.

"So I'd call it a so-so day for the defense. We've got to pick it up.

"We've made some progress as far as toughness in some areas, but we aren't there yet, that's obvious. We were soft in the fourth quarter against Kentucky. I thought we were soft again in the second half against South Carolina. This past week, we were a play or two from turning the game in our favor and didn't make them. We were awfully soft."

Robinson said this will be a week to recheck all fundamentals after the way the Hogs finished the South Carolina game.

"We need to pick it up," he said. "We had made some changes in some positions since camp when we covered some of this, but regardless, it's all going to be checked this week. Some guys who didn't get it done will get checked this week to see if they can handle certain things.

"This open week is definitely a pretty good time to check some things and provides some time to whittle out some people who can't respond.

"What I saw on film, we didn't get off blocks, we turned down tackles, we got cut and we ran around blocks. Those are things that can't happen."

Defensive end Jake Bequette didn't have any reasons for the way the Hogs played defense in South Carolina's clinching touchdown drive, 11 straight runs.

"If I had an explanation for it, I probably wouldn't be here," Jake Bequette said. "They had us behind the eight ball as far as the score and decided to pound on us. If you can't stop the run in our league, it's probably over. That's not good for us.

"That drive (where Carolina ran the ball 11 straight times) was definitely highlighted in our meetings. That's been a big motivation -- what happened in that drive -- for our practices this week.

"Coach (Bobby) Petrino preaches passion, so that's why we were in full gear today. We had heavy sessions of middle drill and inside run. It was back to the basics."

Toughness was the theme of the day.

"I'd say so," Bequette said. "That's what they like to see around here. That's Coach Petrino all the way.

"The coaches have gotten after us pretty good in meetings. They said we didn't have the same passions and showed us where that happened. We were trying to get back on track today.

"Coach Petrino has been very consistent in what he's asked us to do. He wants effort and toughness. We didn't have it against South Carolina, so you knew things would ratchet up today. He put a fire under us.

"We had a problem with execution as much as anything in the second half against South Carolina. Maybe it was focus. Whatever, we didn't respond to the situation. You have to respond."

Safety Matt Harris said the South Carolina result "gave everyone a sick feeling. It's a feeling you get when you know you could do better. I think we feel like we are tough enough, but we sure didn't show it. We were flat and had a bad game. You can't have that at this point. We've made some growth. We know so much more of our system and our coverages. We have our checks down."

The Hogs have two games left to become bowl eligible. No one mentioned bowl possibilities after practice, but Harris seemed to be laying that out as a goal.

"I want to win this game, so it will put some pressure on us against LSU," Harris said. "We know we are playing a good, hard-nosed team. We know it's a team that can run the ball. We know what to expect.

"Right now, we've got a bad taste in our mouth. We can use a bye week to get some things right and then get that bad taste out of our mouth with our next game."

Running back Michael Smith and quarterback Casey Dick did not practice. Smith is nursing a shoulder injury. Dick has missed the last two days after sustaining a concussion late in the South Carolina game. Nathan Dick took the snaps with the first unit Wednesday.

The Hogs actually conducted two workouts. The first was with the varsity. After they were done, the redshirts, walkons and players with little playing time conducted a second practice.

Among the little-used players in the second workout, Robinson praised Khiry Battle, Greg Gatson, Alfred Davis and Matt Marshall on the defensive unit.

"Gatson has a good feel for things," Robinson said. "Marshall did quite well from what I saw. I don't know if he's a safety. We are not sure of his position yet. He might be a linebacker."

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