The University of Arkansas football team held its first practice of the spring Tuesday. Because of the heavy afternoon rain showers, the team practiced in Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium instead of on the scheduled practice fields.
“It was a good first day,” said UA head coach Bobby Petrino. “I was happy with the way we came out and took the field. I thought we had a tremendous amount of energy and excitement. Our guys were well prepared and did a nice job in the meeting rooms. We are way ahead of where we were a year ago. The quarterbacks all took a lot of reps and got a lot of work. They didn’t do everything right. We have to slow down a little bit. Sometimes when you come out the first day and you throw the defense out there they try to do everything so fast. I thought I saw a lot of good things though.”
The Razorback defense returns nine starters, including each of the front seven, and all of its top 10 tacklers from 2008.
“I think defensively when you are not in pads it is all about communication, aligning and playing fast,” said Petrino. “I thought we did a good job with the linebackers getting us lined up. We are way ahead of where we were last year defensively, and we should be because all those guys back had a lot of reps and played a bunch. The secondary gave up some deep balls, but they were without a pass rush so sometimes that happens.”
The quarterback position is expected to get a lot of attention throughout the spring as the Razorbacks look for a starter. Ryan Mallett, Tyler Wilson and Jim Youngblood are each listed on the depth chart and are vying for time.
“I thought the quarterbacks for the most part made good decisions and had a good understanding of where they wanted to go with the ball,” said Petrino.
Special teams plays should also be an emphasis throughout workouts. In January, Arkansas added John L. Smith to the coaching staff, and as part of his duties he will coordinate the effort.
“We have guys who are going to be on the teams,” Petrino said. “Last year we knew we’d have a bunch of new guys. We worked hard today on blocking punts and working the technique of it.”
Arkansas returns to the practice field Wednesday with its next workout scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. The session is open to the public and fans are encouraged to check ArkansasRazorbacks.com for the latest information.