FAYETTEVILLE - The University of Arkansas football team opened the third spring under head coach Bobby Petrino Tuesday afternoon with a workout on the practice fields. The Razorbacks welcomed back nine starters on offense and the defense returned seven.
"It was fun being back out on the field and seeing the experience we have with guys that have been there for two years now and know a lot about what we are doing," said Coach Petrino. "The first day is always a little hard because you can go out and only be in helmets so there is a lot of teaching that went on and a lot of drills where you are separate offense and defense. I really thought our players did a good job concentrating on those drills and working hard at them. Obviously, we didn't do everything right but our concentration and our effort was good. Defensively, I thought we looked faster but again the pads aren't on. We'll learn a lot more when we get the pads on Friday."
With Ryan Mallett out for the spring due to injury, Tyler Wilson, Nick Petrino, Brandon Mitchell and Jacoby Walker are all set to take snaps at the position throughout the drills.
"First of all, I thought Tyler did a good job of coming out and leading the offense," said Coach Petrino. "He took charge right from the first minute he was on the field. You can see he's been here for two years and his confidence is real high. He spent a lot of time over the spring break studying the offense. We always have a Sunday night meeting after a break and he came in early before the meeting started and practiced snaps with (Seth) Oxner."
Tight end Chris Gragg and cornerback Isaac Madison returned to the field after suffering injuries in preseason drills prior to the first game last year that kept them out in 2009.
"It was good to see Chris out there," said Coach Petrino. "He's big and fast and can run and catch. We've got to make sure we do a good job of putting him in situations where he can be successful early. It is great to see him back out there. You look at him and Isaac (Madison) that we lost early last year who are two real good football players. Isaac is going to do everything but live tackling at least for the first three weeks and if things go well there is a possibility we might give him a couple of series in the spring game."
Arkansas is scheduled to return to the practice field at 4 p.m. Wednesday. Razorback practices throughout the spring are open to the public. The Red-White spring game presented by Cox Digital Cable will be held at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Saturday, April 24. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.