Arkansas wrapped up its week of practice preparing for Ole Miss on Thursday with a workout in the Walker Pavilion.
Senior tight end Chris Gragg will return to action for Arkansas on Saturday against Ole Miss.
Arkansas Coach John L. Smith called it a good day of practice and has been impressed with the two weeks of drills. The Razorbacks had a bye last Saturday.
“We just went indoors because of the rain,” Smith said. “We're not expecting rain down there so we didn't think we needed to get out in it. Saturday is supposed to be OK, a little bit cooler, but that will be fine.”
Smith likes to refer to Thursday practices as “Perfect Thursday” and stopped just short of calling today's practice perfect.
“It was a good day,” Smith said. “We had a good day. It starts in the morning. We got them up early this morning and got them looking at video and got them going. It's a lot mental right now. We can get a lot better between now and the game. That's what meetings are all about.”
The defense has only given up seven points to each of its last two opponents, but will get a severe test on Saturday with Ole Miss' fast-tempo offense.
“It's going to be a shock to us,” Smith said. “It always is. We have to get the feel of that when the game gets going. We tried to simulate the best we can with scouts, but you have to hold cards every time. You just can't get it like it's going to be. Not only will the pace and tempo be different, and that will take us a little time to get used to that, but the simulation of the option is going to be faster than we are used to. That's just a matter of getting in, seeing it and reacting.”
Ole Miss also tries to force the tempo on defense by blitzing and coming after the quarterback.
“They're going to come after you,” Smith said. “I think that bodes well for us. We like our matchups with wide outs on different guys. We'll just have to wait and see. We prepare every week for blitz protections. I think our quarterback is very capable of protecting himself.”
Saturday's game will mark the return of senior tight end Chris Gragg, who has been out since the first half of the Rutgers game with an injury.
“Gragg is ready to go,” Smith said. “It has been a little bit stiff and sore from time to time, but he's fine. We're thankful to have him.”
While Gragg will play, Smith said he isn't sure how much defensive tackle D.D. Jones will play. Jones missed the Kentucky game with what Smith referred to as dead legs. Smith said Thursday he has talked to Jones about losing some weight and trying to get down to 300 pounds.
Ole Miss running back Jeff Scott leads the team in rushing with 562 yards and five touchdowns on 92 carries. Smith was asked who on Arkansas Scott reminds him of if anyone.
“I guess he's a little smaller Dennis (Johnson) as far as weight goes,” Smith said. “He's a good player. I really like him a bunch. We have to make it physical, he's lighter.”
Arkansas will be looking to get back to establishing a winning streak in Little Rock after losing to Louisiana-Monroe 34-31 in overtime on Sept. 8. Smith was asked if he feels Arkansas is a better team now than it was that night.
“We're much better,” Smith said. “To be honest, we just feel much more comfortable. I think we have gotten a lot better offensively. I think we're getting more physical over there and getting our running game established much better than we were. On the defensive side, it just seems like we're much more sound in making people have to work for everything they get. Not giving up as many big plays, making mental mistakes and all those things. Some new guys have come around.”