FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Arkansas football team wrapped up Wednesday’s 90-minute practice on the field of Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The defense spent a majority of the workout inside Willard and Pat Walker Pavilion. Head coach Houston Nutt said for the most part it was a good day of practice for the Hogs.
“Again, we just tried to hit every phase of the game and trying to go over the game plan one more time,” Nutt said. “These weeks are going by very, very fast. You look up and Thursday is upon us, so we’re looking forward to going to Knoxville.”
Wednesday’s practice was a little louder than usual as the Razorbacks practiced with the Tennessee fight song playing repeatedly from speakers stationed around the field. Nutt said his players were probably tired of hearing it, but thought it was a slight indication of the environment they will face at Neyland Stadium.
“That was good for us to get around the noise,” Nutt said. “It kind of gives an idea, at least a little bit, for the guys that haven’t been there.”
Nutt said he and the team are anxious to have another shot at the Volunteers on the road after losing in Knoxville five years ago.
“We let one slip over there in six overtimes (in 2002), but it’s always a great atmosphere and always a game we look forward to,” Nutt said. “You know it’s going to be a two-chinstrap kind of ballgame. It’s going to be physical so we’re looking forward to it.”
In Tennessee, the Hogs’ defense will be facing a Volunteer offense that is averaging 34.3 points per game this season. That offense is led by senior quarterback Erik Ainge.
“Erik Ainge is very good, no doubt about it,” Nutt said. “He’s a guy that’s a veteran, their senior leader. He’s very accurate and we have to do a great job against their passing game, but as always, first and foremost, we have to stop the run first.
“(Tennessee offensive coordinator) David Cutcliffe, who we’re very familiar with, does such a great job of mixing up run and pass, so we have to do a great job.”
Nutt knows the importance of a team effort on offense, too, against Tennessee.
“Since the start of the year, (Darren) has been a marked guy and he’s handled things very well,” Nutt said. “His teammates have to do a good job of picking up the slack for him as well. Everybody has to do their part because it takes 11 on every play to just gain four yards in this league, so Darren will be ready to go, but we need everybody ready.”
Offensive tackle Jose Valdez returned to practice Wednesday after missing the previous workout resting a sore ankle. Kevin Woods did not practice, but Nutt said the senior safety will make every effort to be available Saturday.
The Hogs will have their final practice Thursday before leaving Fayetteville to travel to Knoxville, Tenn. Saturday’s game against No. 22 Tennessee will be televised on Lincoln Financial Sports at 11:30 a.m. CT. Log on to www.hogwired.com for more news about Razorback football.