FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas football participated in drills and maneuvers for two hours in full pads on the practice fields just south of Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Thursday.
“The defense moved around today,” head coach Houston Nutt said. “They played awfully fast. We hit (the offense) with third and eight, third and 10, third and five. We put the offense in difficult situations. Also we are trying to challenge the defense to get off the field. It was good work and we are seeing some improvement. That’s what spring ball is about. You are seeing some guys take to their positions. We just have to keep getting better and that’s what brings it out.”
Matt Hewitt, who played linebacker during the 2006 season, has moved back to safety this spring, the position he played when he transferred to UA from Alfred State before the 2006 season.
“Matt Hewitt is the guy that is standing out to me,” Nutt said. “He went back to safety and he has a really good feel for things. He is a big, tall guy and you love his height. He has been very physical. He has been playing pass and has been playing run. We always knew he could cover runs well because he played linebacker. He’s getting a better feel for the passing game. He has stood out and Michael Grant has stood out even though he hasn’t had contact.”
Malcolm Sheppard and Chris Wade also aided the defense in having a strong day of practice.
“Chris Wade has really made some strides,” Nutt said. “He’s getting a lot of reps. He has improved. Malcolm Sheppard, I have mentioned him before. He’s getting better. Offensively, we expect some guys to step up but we are throwing a lot at them right now. We are throwing a lot at them with protections and different things. Jonathan Luigs is doing a good job of getting us lined up with who we have.”
The Razorbacks’ roster took some serious hits during the off-season and losing Chris Houston in the backfield could be one of the more noticeable holes. Luckily for Nutt, there are many players fighting to take Houston’s spot on the field
“Matterral Richardson, Jerell Norton, Shedrick Johnson, Jamar Love, all had good days,” Nutt said. “They are really competing for the ball when the ball is air. They are attacking the ball. We are going to need that when you lose a guy like Chris Houston. We need those corners to step up.”