LAS VEGAS – In its final full-scale practice before Thursday’s Las Vegas Bowl IX, the University of Arkansas football team held a 90-minute workout Monday morning at Desert Pines High School.
With players in shorts and shoulder pads, UA head coach Houston Nutt subjected the Razorbacks to minimal contact and was pleased with their performance as the coaching staff put the finishing touches on the game plan for the Hogs’ meeting with UNLV.
“That’s what you look for,” Nutt said, “concentration, the level of intensity, the effort. They’ve done that for us. We took it off of them today and they have plenty of time, if anybody’s tired, to get it back.”
The Razorbacks will hold a brief walk-through session Wednesday at the game site, Sam Boyd Stadium. “Just 15 minutes like we normally do on a Friday,” Nutt explained. “Nothing real serious.”
Although the coaching staff’s primary goal during the last two weeks was to prepare the Hogs’ first- and second-team units for the bowl game, the workouts have also allowed coaches to give the Razorback underclassmen a head start they hope will carry over to spring practice. “That’s the greatest thing about a bowl game is these young guys get to go through some good practice drills, get attention,” Nutt said. “It just propels them into the spring, makes them a better football player.”
The Razorbacks face the unusual challenge of meeting a bowl opponent on its home field, an advantage Nutt acknowledges. “I’m sure they feel like they have the advantage because they’re home and they’re very comfortable in their environment. But like I told our guys, it’s going to be a good environment. A lot of people are going to be wearing (UNLV) red. We’re happy and thankful to be in a bowl game, number one. We’ve taken advantage of it. Now let’s get ready to play. Our guys are looking forward to playing.”
Arkansas (6-5) and UNLV (7-5) will meet Thursday night at 5 p.m. PT (7 p.m. CT) in Las Vegas Bowl IX with ESPN2 scheduled to provide a national telecast of the game. Making its third bowl appearance in as many years under Nutt, UA enters the game in hopes of earning bowl victories in consecutive seasons for the first time.