FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt sensed there was a little bit of excitement in the air as the Razorbacks opened spring practice in shorts and helmets on Monday. The much anticipated start to spring drills was the official on-field debut for new offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, quarterbacks coach Alex Wood and the return of secondary coach Louis Campbell to the field. Nutt was pleased with his squad’s first of 15 practices of the spring.
“It was good to get out here on a beautiful day,” Nutt said. “There is nothing like spring ball. It’s about working with young men. We are trying to get them better fundamentally. There is not a game plan to worry about it is about trying to take each person to another level. There is a lot of enthusiasm today. We are asking for two things, a lot of passion and concentration. For the most part on the first day it was the way it ought to be. The key is going to be can you do that 14 more times. That is what we are going to try and get out of these guys.”
The Hogs’ commitment to improving the passing game was evident on Monday as the quarterbacks and receivers spent large portions of the practice working on timing and routes. Nutt says boosting the Razorbacks’ passing presence will continue to be a focus of spring practice.
“There were a lot of reps and a lot of work,” Nutt said. “We spent a lot more time throwing the football and catching the football today. That is going to be the emphasis right now. We are looking for the receivers to step up. Marcus Monk and Cedric Washington looked good today, we need more. We need Chris Baker, Cedric Logan and Reginald Fish. Peyton Hillis made some good catches today and he is going to be valuable. We are going to keep building on that.”
A pair of seniors that had their 2005 seasons cut short due to injury participated in practice on Monday. Senior Darius Vinnett showed good mobility after battling knee tendonitis last season. Senior offensive tackle Zac Tubbs has dropped some weight and appears mended from a chronic ankle injury that plagued him last fall.
“You see his (Tubbs’) body, he looks very good,” Nutt said. “He has made a real sacrifice and commitment to staying in shape over Christmas and spring break. He looks real good. I’m excited about him. I just want to keep all these guys on the field.”
Arkansas will stage another practice in shorts and helmets on Tuesday before taking Wednesday off. The Razorbacks are expected to don pads for the first time this spring on Thursday.