Arkansas Starts Spring Practice Before Break

Monday, March 12th 2007, 6:38 pm

By: News On 6

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) Arkansas' spring season will be a bit disjointed this year -- the Razorbacks practice Tuesday and Wednesday, then will start up again after spring break.

That's all fine with coach Houston Nutt.

"It's a good way to get two practices (with) just helmets and no pads," Nutt said Monday. "When we come back we will go right into pads. We wanted to get two days under our belt to throw some things out there. We are going to be in two-minute drill tomorrow. We are going to move pretty fast and get some things on film."

The Razorbacks' return after the break is tentatively scheduled for March 26. The spring game is April 14.

For the second consecutive year, Arkansas has a new offensive coordinator. David Lee was hired in January after Gus Malzahn left to join the staff at Tulsa. Nutt said implementing the new offense will be a priority.

"The first place you start is with fundamentals and that's at every position," Nutt said. "You want to get that player better at his position. Offensively, what we want to do is put a lot of emphasis on our passing game. ... We have done a great job of running the football."

Arkansas returns Heisman Trophy runner-up Darren McFadden at running back, but the Razorbacks couldn't throw consistently last season -- and that was before touted freshman quarterback Mitch Mustain was given his release to transfer shortly after Malzahn left.

Lee came from the Dallas Cowboys for a third tour of duty with Arkansas. He has said Arkansas' passing game will look similar to what NFL teams run.

But any offense needs good players.

"Our receivers, we want them to get better," Nutt said. "It's about executing under pressure. When they have you outnumbered, does the quarterback know where to go with the ball? It's about protecting the quarterback and the quarterback having a feel for getting rid of the ball. That's where we are."

Casey Dick is now the undisputed starting quarterback. At receiver, Arkansas returns Marcus Monk, the school's career leader in touchdown catches.

But nobody else on the team had more than 19 catches last season. Robert Johnson, last year's starting quarterback in the season opener, will be counted on at receiver this year.

Nutt mentioned a couple other receivers who also might have a chance to flourish.

"Rod Coleman is back out there, Chris Baker has really had a good offseason," he said. "Robert Johnson has really come on. He's trimmed up a bit. I think he's the best he has ever been for us."

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