FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas football team kicked off the 2010 season this afternoon with the start of fall practice. The Razorbacks took to the practice fields without pads in the onset of head coach Bobby Petrino’s third year at the helm.
"I’m impressed with the talent of this group," Coach Petrino said. "I was happy with practice tonight. The guys did a nice job being ready for practice and they took the field the way you’re supposed to; with a lot of energy and a lot of excitement."
Practices were split into two sessions, with newcomers going first prior to the veterans taking the field. The arrangement gave UA’s coaching staff the ability to work closely with both new and returning Razorbacks.
"We’ve had a lot of carry-over from spring ball and the work they did in the summer," Coach Petrino said. "So there weren’t a lot of errors out there. We’ve got to build on it and continue to work hard. They have to push each other to practice full speed and play with great effort."
UA’s Ryan Mallett practiced for the first time since being sidelined by a foot injury during the spring. The Razorback signal caller, a junior from Texarkana, Ark., was on his mark throughout the session.
"He did well," Coach Petrino said. "He made good throws and was very comfortable. It was great to have his leadership out there. It was a good start."
Mallett, a preseason All-SEC first-team pick, liked picking up where he left off with his Razorback teammates.
"For the first day, I thought it went pretty well," Mallett said. "You really can’t expect to be perfect, but you want to be. I thought that was the best mental practice that we’ve had since I’ve been here. To do that, it means we’re upgrading."
Behind Mallett, there is no shortage in talent at running back. Arkansas returns ball carriers Dennis Johnson (Jr.), Broderick Green (Jr.), Ronnie Wingo, Jr. (So.) and Knile Davis (So.).
"I feel that all four of them could be the starter," Coach Petrino said. "Each could be the main guy. It’s up to them to determine it. It is a good group; they push each other and work extremely hard."
Arkansas returns to practice Friday with workouts for the newcomers starting at 3 p.m. and the veterans beginning at 6:30 p.m. Practices remain open to the public through August 21 (excluding August 19). Fans are encouraged to check ArkansasRazorbacks.com for updates on Razorback football.