Arkansas Ready to Play After Intense Week of Preparation

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – With just over 48 hours remaining until kick-off against No. 6 Southern California, Arkansas football packed in one more solid practice on Thursday at the practice fields just south of Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

Lasting only 12 five-minute periods, the last practice in preparation for USC was contested in shoulder pads and shorts and consisted of Thursday’s intense special teams work and team drills.

“We had a real good mental today,” head coach Houston Nutt said. “That is what Thursday is all about. It’s mental. The next 48 hours is all mental. The work is done and now you play the game mentally. It’s alignment; it’s assignment.”

If there is one area where Nutt has confidence, it’s with the special teams and that is unfamiliar to him. With game-day looming, specific positions have been solidified with the special teams. Returning punts will be Peyton Hillis and kick returns will be covered by Felix Jones and Hillis. Backing up at kick return will be Damian Williams and London Crawford.

Nutt also sang the praises of the kickers and the effort they have put in during fall camp.

“We hit all of our kicking substitutions today, just like we do every Thursday. We covered every kicking situation. We have a lot of confidence in (kicking), the most confidence we have had in a long time. (Stephen) Arnold has had an excellent camp. He has hit the ball very well. Brett Goode is doing a great job of snapping that ball perfectly. Jacob Skinner’s holds have been good.”

In offensive news, Casey Dick had a more active practice on Thursday then he has had in the last few weeks. Still plagued by a nagging back injury, Dick has thrown sporadically at practices but, according to Nutt based on what he saw at Thursday’s practice, is slotted in as the No. 3 quarterback behind Johnson and Mitch Mustain.

“Casey looked good today,” Nutt said. “He got a few reps in today behind Mitch because we rested Robert’s (Johnson) arm.”

Asked if he thought he accomplished everything he wanted to during fall camp, Nutt expressed his contentment and his eagerness to see the fruits of the squad’s labor.

“I feel good,” Nutt said. “Always as a coach, you wonder ‘did I cover this enough?’ or ‘did I hit that enough?’ You are always going to lay awake and think about that. I know these guys are ready to play. They are ready to play somebody with a different colored jersey. They have been out here (practicing) for so long and I can’t wait to see them.”

The Razorbacks will do a brief walk-through on Friday before opening up the 2006 season against No. 6 Southern California, Sat. Sept. 2, at 7:45 p.m.