Tuesday Grid Update, 11/18

There was no word on the starting quarterback as Arkansas went through a heavy workout Tuesday in full pads. Brothers Casey and Nathan Dick split the work with the first team.

Paul Petrino greeted the media after Tuesday's practice, but the Arkansas offensive coordinator couldn't shed much light on the battle between brothers Casey and Nathan Dick in the quarterback battle.

Different members of the media tried several questions on the QB competition, but Petrino would say nothing more than they split the snaps Tuesday "about 50-50."

One reporter said, "We aren't going to know until Saturday, right?"

Petrino said, "I couldn't answer that."

Asked to critique the way the two performed Tuesday, he said, "They were both about the same. They both had similar reps."

How will the coaches decide which quarterback to start?

"I think we will come out to practice and see who knows the game plan the best," he said. "Who wil it be? I don't know that."

Overall, Petrino thought the team "practiced hard, flew around and had good energy. We had a real good day."

Running back Michael Smith made it through the full pads practice in good shape. He's less than full speed with a shoulder injury. Petrino said, "Mike had a good day."

Smith said he won't be 100 percent the rest of the season, but he's "as good as I need to be right now. I'm better. One thing that I can tell you, my legs feel a lot better after a week off. This is the best my legs have felt since the first week of two-a-days. That's what I noticed tonight."

Smith practiced with a neck roll Sunday that seemed to hinder his movement. The training staff gave him a different set of pads that was much easier to move in for Tuesday's workout.

"It's still kinda a neck roll, but it's under my pads and it's not too bad," Smith said. "It'll work. I'll be fine with it."

Nathan and Casey Dick both commented on the quickness Smith displayed on Tuesday. Casey said, "Mike looked like a different player."

But most of the questions for the quarterback brothers concerned each other and their competition this week.

"It's fine," Nathan said. "We'll both do what we can and the coaches will decide. We are going to compete on the field, but we are still brothers off the field. Our parents are going to support us no matter how it turns out. They'll support both of us and they know this is the way it is going to be, competing like this.

"I don't think either one of us knows who is going to play right now. And, the coaches have not told us what is happening yet. We are just practicing and trying to do as well as we can. We are helping each other off the field."

Nathan played late in the South Carolina game, leading a touchdown drive. It's his only playing time as a Razorback. Did that give him any confidence for this week's battle?

"I think I showed the team I can step up," he said. "I know I can lead. I feel great. I feel like I can do that every time."

Nathan Dick said Tuesday's practice was similar to a solid workout the team had on Sunday night.

"I thought team had a great practice Sunday night," he said. "I thought we were in a groove. Today was another good day. We had a fun practice. I thought we did well.

"I'm just going out there trying to play the game the way I've played it the last 12 years, the game I love."

Paul Petrino said the Hogs will need to be able to make big plays in the passing game this weekend because Mississippi State has been extra stingy against the run.

"They do what they have to do to stop the run and that means putting eight men in the box if needed," Petrino said. "The strength of their team is their front seven. They are very good, very physical. So we will have to throw the ball. We know that."

Smith said it will be the same State team the Hogs have seen every year.

"They come to the field with the idea of hitting you, hitting you again and hitting you some more," Smith said. "They will hit you and when you get back up, they will hit you again.

"We know that. We know they want to play physical. That's what we have to bring to the game, too. It's a challenge for our entire team. Our offensive line knows what to expect and what they have to do in this game.

"It's the kind of game you look forward to as far as that goes. You like to play against good, solid teams. We look forward to the challenge and we know it's going to be a challenge."

Petrino was asked to rate the improvement shown by wide receiver Jarius Wright from the start of the season.

"He's really improved," he said. "He's started to get a lot better. We say the film is your resume in this game and when you look at the film of Jarius, he's getting better every practice. Each night you see a route that he's improved. His routes look pretty good right now."

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