Arkansas junior linebacker Weston Dacus gives the Hogs just what they needed at a thin spot, plenty…
Senior Gives 'Moore' At Middle Linebacker
"We're going to move Clarke Moore up to the first team this week, but we still need Dacus to keep coming," said Arkansas coach Houston Nutt. "Weston, he did a good job, but Moore is doing more right now and we've got to give him (an opportunity)."
In his three-year career, Moore saw action in 30 games and logged 12 starts at linebacker. He switched positions in the spring and began preseason practices listed at fourth-team defensive end.
The 6-foot-2, 245-pounder also underwent knee surgery and was "in the doghouse" after his arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol in the offseason.
"That's what I respect about him," Nutt said. "All he's done is 'Yes sir, No sir.' He's a good, good person. He has a great heart and that's what hard work does. We're real proud of him."
Outside linebackers Pierre Brown (64 snaps) and Sam Olajubutu (57 snaps) didn't come off the field much until late in the fourth quarter. Olajubutu forced a fumble and tied for the team lead with 10 tackles while Brown had seven.
True freshman Freddie Fairchild received seven snaps at linebacker, making one tackle. He also had a tackle on special teams. Another true freshman, Tyrell Graham, likely would have played as well had he not been ill most of the week.
"(Fairchild) didn't have any missed assignments when coach (Reggie) Herring put him in there at linebacker," Nutt said. "But Pierre Brown, Sam Olajubutu, Clarke Moore, the older guys played outstanding. I think each of them maybe had one mistake all night long."
What A Rush
After this weekend's games, the Razorbacks' 483 yards rushing leads the nation. Texas is next with 418 rushing yards followed by Wisconsin's 388, Michigan State's 354 and Missouri's 317.
Three tailbacks rushed for more than 100 yards and are among the nation's individual leaders. They are true freshman Felix Jones (12th, 137 yards), sophomore Peyton Hillis (13th, 135 yards) and senior De'Arrius Howard (21st, 120 yards).
"The offensive line did an outstanding job," Nutt said. "Boy, when they got a hat on a hat and did what they were supposed to, we had some nice running lanes."
Nutt was the most encouraged with the play of right guard Jonathan Luigs, a redshirt freshman playing in his first game in place of injured starter Zac Tubbs.
While coaches hope Tubbs can return to practice Tuesday from an ankle injury, it's nice to know they can rely on Luigs. He graded out 86 percent in 68 plays and also saw action at center with the second-team offense.
"Oh my goodness, Luigs played a ball game," Nutt said. "He had quite a few knockdowns (6). He's intelligent, he gets his hat to the right number. His guy was blocked (Saturday) night. I know we're going to play much better competition, but for the first time to play, that was really good."
Obviously, run blocking was effective and Nutt also said the pass protection was solid for the most part although the pocket "collapsed" too quickly a few times.
Coaches evaluate run and pass blocking to come up with an overall grade. Most of the line graded out well with center Kyle Roper's 90 percent leading the way followed by left tackle Tony Ugoh's 87 percent and left guard Stephen Parker's 81 percent.
Right tackle Robert Felton graded out at 69 percent and is "one person we expect more out of," according to Nutt.
Vandy Is Dandier
The Hogs' first true test will come Saturday at 6 p.m. when they host Vanderbilt in Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
One concern for Nutt is that Missouri State quarterback Scott Carroll was 4 for 8 for 71 yards and a touchdown in the third quarter. Carroll often was flushed out of the pocket and the extra time spent scrambling caused Arkansas defensive backs to "lose" receivers.
"It's missed assignments with your eyes," Nutt said. "When that happens with a quarterback, don't turn around and see if the other guy can make the play. Stay with your man.
"That's the thing we've got to get corrected, especially with (Commodores quarterback) Jay Cutler coming up."
Cutler completed 26 of 36 passes for 276 yards and a touchdown in a 24-20 win against Wake Forest on Thursday. He's more mobile than Carroll and led the team with 89 yards on 10 carries.
"We've got to do a much, much better job this week," Nutt said. "Because of his senior leadership, he's a veteran, he can handle and he can escape. And they've got good receivers."
Showing State Pride
The idea for the red uniforms debuted on Saturday (featuring "ARKANSAS" across the chest) was inspired by Little Rock middleweight champion Jermaine Taylor, who spoke to the team late last week.
Nutt said he "loved the look," adding that the team's road (white) jerseys will be the same. He got the idea when Taylor beat Bernard Hopkins in a title fight in Las Vegas this summer.
"It's Arkansas and we want everybody to know it," Nutt said. "I saw (Taylor) with the red and white shorts and had 'ARKANSAS' on the back and I felt like, 'Man they're calling the Hogs in Las Vegas. '
"So I felt like when we're going all over the country to play this year, it's Arkansas."
Sophomore Matterral Richardson showed promise in his first start at free safety. He moved from cornerback in the preseason to replace struggling starter Randy Kelley.
"I think Richardson was kind of feeling his way early and he started getting some confidence there at the end," Nutt said. "He got cracked one time and that'll put your head on a swivel when you get hit like that. But he, overall, I really liked his aggressiveness. He's just got to keep coming. He's young."
Richardson had three tackles in 45 plays while Kelley had one solo stop in 27 snaps.
Besides Fairchild and Jones, true freshmen Elston Forte, Jose Valdez, Cole Barthel, Jamar Love, Darren McFadden and Reggie Fish played against MSU ... Tight end Lance Thompson (sprained knee) is doubtful for Saturday's game against Vanderbilt, but depth in the tight end group could be helped as Nutt hopes Wes Murphy (ankle) can return. Tight end Jared Hicks (ankle) is not expected to play this week ... Defensive tackle Jeremy Harrell (deep thigh bruise) did not practice Sunday, but is expected to return Tuesday ... No other significant injuries were reported.
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