Poor tackling has been the big problem for the Arkansas defense the past two weeks, but there wasn't a lot of heavy work for the Razorbacks this week. There just wasn't time.
"We did a lot of drills and worked on technique, but we just couldn't hit this week because of the short week," Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said. "We tried to work hard on flying to the ball. We just couldn't do any live tackling."
Arkansas finished their last practice of the season Wednesday in Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The Hogs play host to LSU in the regular season finale at 1:30 p.m. Friday in Little Rock. With the game on Friday, the Hogs crammed a lot into four days.
"We finished our short week, but it didn't seem like a short week," Petrino said. "Our players did a nice job. It was a mix between shorter meetings, short periods of contact and long walk throughs to get in our preparation."
Petrino said the Hogs hope to end a two-game slide with a better finish.
"The main thing, we have to find a way to win the game in the fourth quarter," Petrino said. "We have to play better and make plays at the end."
The Hogs will gain a key defender, but lose their main man on offense. Petrino said safety/linebacker Jerico Nelson should play, but Michael Smith, one of the SEC's best backs, is out with a torn hamstring. Nelson has missed over one month with a knee sprain.
"He looked full speed today," Petrino said. "We are very encouraged about him."
With Smith out with possible hamstring surgery soon, the Hogs will likely start Dennis Johnson at running back. Other possibilities at running back are Brandon Barnett and DeAnthony Curtis.
"We'll probably start out with Dennis, but we will play all three," Petrino said. "We will rotate them. All three have been very focused in practice. They know they have a great opportunity. I like the way they've practiced. They've helped each other and when one of them is out there, the other two are right there behind them trying to listen and learn. They've gone through it well mentally."
Petrino said the Hogs need a win to start next season right and to help in recruiting.
"We wish we were practicing and could go through more preparation next week, but we can't and our coaches will go on the road (to recruit)," Petrino said. "Sunday starts the period you can go on the road. They will leave and be in schools and homes. They'll be seeing the players who are committed and trying to get some commitments from some who aren't yet (committed)."
Petrino was asked what he's thankful for on the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday.
"I'm thankful to be here at Arkansas," he said. "I'm thankful for my family. I told our players that they have someone to thank for being here and that they should call them and thank them this week. I told them they should be thankful because they are in a position to shape their lives."
Overall, Petrino said this season has not been full of victories, but that it's still been "a good year. We've competed hard and that will be helpful in the future."
Wednesday Grid Update, 11/26
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