Felton To Start At Right Tackle

The Morning News/Razorback Central
Posted Nov 5, 2004


FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas redshirt freshman Robert Felton will start at right tackle on Saturday against South Carolina.

Redshirt freshman Matt Gilbow has started at the position the past two games after it was left open because of a season-ending ankle injury to sophomore Zac Tubbs.

Felton has worked with the first-team offense for the majority of the week, but offensive line coach Mike Markuson didn't officially give him the nod until after Thursday's one-hour practice.

"Robert Felton is starting," Markuson said. "He's just done a great job. He played well in the Georgia game and we just felt that starting this game off, that's the best thing to do right now.

"Matt's going to play, but Felton's starting."

Felton, logging his first career start at left tackle in place of Tony Ugoh who was slowed due to kidney stones, had nine knockdown blocks in the 20-14 loss to Georgia two weeks ago.

Felton began two-a-days with the first-team at left guard before injuring his knee which allowed Stephen Parker to take over at the position.

The switch from the left to the right side of the offensive line has been a smooth transition according to Markuson.

"That guy does whatever it takes," Markuson said. "He's a guy that's got a lot of ability and it doesn't take him long to learn something new.

"When you see a guy adjust and it comes naturally to him, you know he's going to be all right. Not everybody can do what he's doing. Some guys can't do it, but he can.

"He's gifted enough everywhere that he can make the switch."

As far as Ugoh, Markuson said he's coming along with his conditioning this week. He was slowed some late last week with fatigue -- even pulling himself out of Wednesday's practice -- but now appears ready to compete at a high level.

"Tony's really looked good thank goodness," Markuson said. "He's really been competing and running around out here with us, so we expect good things from him on Saturday."

Coe To Play?
Hogs sophomore cornerback Michael Coe, who started the first six games this season, made it through his first complete practice on Thursday since suffering multiple deep thigh bruises three weeks ago.

Coe had dressed for practices all week, but was unable to go through an entire workout at full speed until Thursday.

"We're trying to be smart with him because we don't want to get him out there and possibly reinjure his leg," said defensive backs coach Bobby Allen. "I've told Mike that it's kind of a game-time decision to see if he's full speed or not and depending on the game and how he feels, I expect him to play."

In Coe's place, Allen plans to give Chris Houston his first career start alongside regular starter Darius Vinnett at the other cornerback spot.

"Chris Houston was playing well before he got hurt (injuring his ankle early in the season)," Allen said. "Since he's came back, with (Coe) being down a little bit, he's been consistent for us. He played pretty well against Georgia and deserves (to start)."

Allen also anticipates rotating in reserve corners Matteral Richardson and Michael Grant, who started against Georgia.

Jones, Hillis Healthy
Arkansas coach Houston Nutt expects quarterback Matt Jones (groin, hamstring) and running back Peyton Hillis (lower back) to be at full speed on Saturday.

"The only thing we can go by is what we've seen and (Jones has) looked good this week,' Nutt said. "He's tried it out full speed and it's all systems go right now. And that's movement as far as laterally, making moves and making people miss and all those things that he didn't have at the end of the Georgia game.

"I think he's ready."

Hillis is ready as well. It's just the second game back for him since fracturing three transverse processes (bones attached to the vertebrae) in his lower back against Florida on Oct. 2.

"I haven't taken any shots, but I know that I'm completely healed," Hillis said. "It's just a matter of time. I don't think anything serious will happen. I'm ready. I can't wait.

"I just want to win this one really bad and try to help the team as much as I can."

Against Georgia, the true freshman logged only three snaps, but did catch a key third down pass to keep a drive alive.

"He'll be in there," Nutt said. "I just don't know (how much). We'll just have to see how it's going, the flow of it, and what's needed, but he's ready to go though.

"Unlike the last time when we were playing Georgia, you didn't feel that way. You felt very uncertain to where now, we feel good about him physically as far as his back, hitting someone or taking a blow.

"All those things, we feel good about."

Hicks Healing Up, Too
Every week, junior tight end Jared Hicks has spent hours in the training room trying to heal up his separated shoulder enough to play each Saturday.

With the extra week off before heading to South Carolina, Hicks appears to be as close to full strength as he's been since injuring it in the opener against New Mexico State.

"The open date really helped him because he really banged it up pretty good against Georgia," said tight ends coach Clifton Ealy. "If we would have played this past week, he probably would have been out, but he's been fighting through it.

"I don't think he's ever been 100 percent, but I think he's probably as close this week as he has been to being 100 percent, so we feel like he's ready to go."

D-Line Solidified
Arkansas defensive line coach Tracy Rocker said he's not changing anything in terms of starters after the way his unit played against Georgia.

"I'm hoping they can keep doing the same things that they did (against Georgia)," Rocker said. "We must perform well, but most of all, we want to come out of there with a win."

That means defensive ends Marcus Harrison and Jeb Huckeba, defensive tackle Arrion Dixon and nose guard Jeremy Harrell will be the starting front four for the second consecutive game.

Rocker also plans to use true freshmen Jamaal Anderson and Fred Bledsoe for more snaps at defensive end with senior Elliott Harris providing relief as well.

Grid Bits
Arkansas will practice today at approximately 2:30 p.m. in South Carolina's Williams-Brice Stadium ... Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles, who was recently hospitalized for an irregular heartbeat, walked several laps around the practice fields early in Thursday's workout ... A group of pee-wee football players and their parents from Charleston hung around after practice for autographs. Charleston's senior high team played at Greenland on Thursday night.


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