McFadden, Jones Feeling More Comfortable

McFadden, Jones Feeling More Comfortable

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas running back Darren McFadden looked awfully comfortable when he set freshman rushing records while starting the final eight games of last season.

But McFadden is feeling even more at home nowadays. So is fellow tailback Felix Jones.

This is the first spring practice that either running back has gone through at Arkansas. And they showed Tuesday some of what coaches have come to expect from the sophomore duo.

During the two-plus hour long practice, McFadden caught a screen pass, took advantage of a few solid blocks and burst up the field and past several defenders.

"Our offensive line is back to full speed; it makes me feel real comfortable," said McFadden, who rushed for 1,113 yards and 11 touchdowns as a freshman.

McFadden had arthroscopic surgery in late November to repair some torn cartilage in his left knee, but he hasn't showed any signs of it so far this spring.

Jones, meanwhile, had his own highlight Tuesday when he used his speed to elude several tacklers, cut through holes and break off what would have been a big run.

"It's a whole lot more comfortable now," said Jones, who rushed for 626 yards and three touchdowns and caught passes for another 100 yards last season. "Last year, we were just coming out of high school. You get thrown right into the games.

"It's a whole different feeling now because you know how fast the speed is. And once we get it down, it's over with."



Herring Bides His Time With Linebackers
The fall can't come soon enough for Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring. That's when several freshman linebackers will come in and add some much-needed depth to the position.

In the meantime, Herring has grown frustrated with the second-team linebackers who are backing up starters Sam Olajubutu, Desmond Sims and Freddie Fairchild.

Weston Dacus is the only backup linebacker who is currently on scholarship, and Herring said the junior has been too inconsistent over the first half of spring practices.

When asked who he sees as the No. 2 linebackers, Herring said, "They're probably at the prom right now, and they're popping zits right now. I don't know. They're not here. I'm very serious."

The Razorbacks were so short on proven linebackers heading into the spring that Sims was moved from starting defensive end to starting middle (mike) linebacker to fill the void left when Pierre Brown used up his eligibility.



Fish Out Of Water
Sophomore Reggie Fish has tried to make plays wherever he can. First, he blocked a punt during Monday's practice, and then he made several impressive catches while lining up at wide receiver on Tuesday.

Fish and a defender dove at the same time for a pass thrown during team drills, but the speedy 5-foot-7 flanker fought for the football and caught it before it hit the ground. He also scooped up another low pass.

"We're out here to compete, and competing is part of making plays," Fish said. "So, that's what we're out here to do each day."

Arkansas coach Houston Nutt has called for his wide receivers to step up and make plays, and he was particularly impressed with what he has seen from Fish over the last two days of practice.

"He's so quick off the line of scrimmage, whether it be trying to block a punt or getting off the line of scrimmage versus a (defensive back)," Nutt said.



Nutt Challenges Fans
Nutt opened his interview session with reporters following Tuesday's practice by sending out a rather lofty challenge to Razorbacks fans.

He wants a very large crowd inside Razorback Stadium on April 15 to watch the Red-White spring game.

"I want our fans to come. I want 30,000 minimum; I'll take 40 (thousand)," Nutt said. "Let's get 30,000 to this thing."

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