FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. –– Arkansas turned its focus to a physical Ole Miss defense during Wednesday’s 90-minute workout that began in shells on the practice fields south of the stadium and finished in the Willard and Pat Walker Pavilion.
“We had another good day of preparation getting ready for Ole Miss,” Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt said. “There defense is extremely talent and filled with all seniors. The one thing that we have to do is be very physical. It is very different from last week when we were concentrating on coverage packages and stopping South Carolina’s passing attack. This (the Ole Miss game) is more of physical game and the bottom line is we have to be able to stop their running game.”
As usual the Hogs will count on their potent rushing attack on the offensive side of the football, but some of Arkansas’ focuses this week have been the red-zone offense and short-yardage plays.
“We have to be able to run the football,” Nutt said, “but we have been putting a lot of emphasis on goal line, redzone and short-yardage situations this week.”
One area of concern for Arkansas is a beat up offense line that must play well on Saturday to neutralize the Rebel deep and experienced defensive line.
“You are always a little concerned when a guy like (Kyle) Roper didn’t go much today and (Stephen) Parker is a little banged up,” Nutt said. “They (Ole Miss) have five seniors on the defensive line that can play; they are very physical and play with a lot of enthusiasm. The big difference from last year is that they are getting off blocks. The Ole Miss defensive line is spinning and twisting and doing anything to get off blocks.”
After back-to-back 30-plus carry games, freshman tailback Darren McFadden hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. But the Hogs’ coaching staff will not going into Saturday’s game with a set number of carries for McFadden.
“It is hard to say how many carries he is going to get,” Nutt said. “When he is running the way he has been running you feel good about getting him the ball. I think Felix (Jones) will probably get a few more carries on Saturday, but it is hard to put a number on exactly how many carries they are going to get.”
Arkansas will also be looking to show the improved confidence in the passing game against the Rebels to take a little heat off the Razorbacks’ ground game.
“I think we have gained confidence in Casey (Dick), and we are not afraid to throw the football a little bit more,” Nutt said. “I think that will just help our running game in the long run.”
The Razorbacks will conduct a light practice on Thursday afternoon before leaving of Oxford, Miss., on Friday.