FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Razorbacks returned to the practice field for the first time after their 26-20 win over South Carolina this weekend. On the practice fields just south of Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Arkansas implemented the Tennessee game plan for slightly over an hour in full pads.
“We had a good work day today,” head coach Houston Nutt said. “The guys came out with great concentration. Kevin Woods, Elston Forte, Dallas Washington, you can tell their level of intensity and concentration went up when they know Michael Grant is not there. They have to pull the load for him.”
Grant, UA’s starting free safety, was injured in this past weekend’s match up with the Gamecocks. Woods is likely to take over his starting role but Forte and Washington will also spend this week of practice adjusting to the starting free safety position.
UA’s secondary is not the only defense Nutt is worried about. This weekend against Tennessee, the Razorback offense will have their work cut out for them.
“We are probably going up against the best defense we have seen all year. We are talking about all eleven spots, tremendous speed and tremendous ability. They can play football. We have to do a great job of taking care of the ball and executing.”
Nutt and the Razorback offense have been striving for consistency. UT’s defense presents a huge roadblock but Nutt sees minor changes that will really make a difference.
“We need to stay on our blocks a little longer,” Nutt said. “We can’t stop ourselves inside the red zone like we did in Columbia. We have been so good in the red zone. We need to finish that and put points on the board. The only way to get better is to come out (to practice) with a purpose and (our players) have been doing that.”
Other members of the offense, in addition to the offensive line, have really been pushing the momentum of the offense forward with key blocks during crucial situations.
“Peyton Hillis is doing a great job (blocking),” Nutt said. “Very few people can move from the right side of the line and make that block all the way on the left side of the line. It takes great quickness. Marcus Monk, Damian Williams, Reggie Fish have been excellent down the field and that’s why we are having those long runs. We just want to continue to do that.”
Arkansas football took some bad hits Saturday night against South Carolina. Many of the players who suffered minor injuries were back to work at practice this afternoon.
“Stephen Parker didn’t miss a beat,” Nutt said. “Darren McFadden didn’t miss a beat. Everybody was out here. Marcus Harrison looked good. Peyton Hillis, they were all here ready to go.”