Football head coach Bobby Petrino met with the media Wednesday to give an update on the team.
Opening Statement:“What we wanted to do we are doing, and that is getting stronger, bigger and being in better condition. I think our team chemistry is something we’ve been working hard at. I’m excited to see it when we start practice and see how much better we will be there. I know we’ve had a good attitude throughout the entire summer and some players have really worked hard at stepping up and showing their leadership. I’ll be excited to see that when we start practicing. As far as our health, two guys who missed spring ball Michael Smith and Lucas Miller are both 100 percent. They’ve been going through all the workouts and haven’t been held back at all. They both tell me they are ready to go. When we get to two-a-day on a day we are practicing twice they might only practice once that day. We will wait and evaluate it and our plan going in would be to wait and hold them on the second practice of the day. Knile Davis is back working at full speed as of yesterday and that puts him a week ahead of schedule of where we thought he would be. He is now changing direction and has rejoined all the workouts. He’s excited about that. I’m happy for him. I would anticipate him to do great when we start practicing. Brandon Barnett is still in the process of his rehab. He’s running straight ahead now. Hopefully, we’ll progress in the next week or two. Ryan Mallett’s finger is fine. He’s doing fine, his finger is healed and he’s throwing the ball. We do have a lot of newcomers already on campus. The thing that impresses me the most is we were happy on signing day about the fact we were getting taller, longer and bigger. When these guys walked through the door, we are that. They are a good looking crew. They are going to look good when they put the uniforms on and go out there to practice. We are much taller and bigger, now we will find out if they can play the game the way they need to. I’m really excited. I know we’ll be a better football team. I know we’ll be better two years from now. The attitude and enthusiasm and the fact we’ve been able to add the recruits we have will help us when we get going into it.”On Elton Ford“Elton Ford is ready to go. We got the clearance on him and he went back to the doctor just recently and they said not to hold him on anything. He will practice full speed and there will be no limitations on him whatsoever. I think he’ll fit in there pretty close to the top of the depth chart. He’s a guy who played last year as a true freshman. Certainly, we’ll be evaluating how he comes off the injury. He’s very eager and has been doing a great job on his workouts. He’s bigger and stronger than he was a year ago.”On leaders for 2009“Michael Smith’s a guy who is very motivated. He’s done a nice job and I really expect him to take control of the team. Ryan Mallett and Tyler Wilson have to do a great job. D.J. Williams is ready to do it. Last year, as a young player and a sophomore, he was happy with pushing himself to play real well. He’s ready to take on more responsibility on helping other guys understand their obligations. I think D.J. will take a step forward towards that. Isaac Madison is guy who is doing well for us. In spring ball, he played well and he wants to be a leader. I think that’s a big part of it. He wants to establish himself as a leader by playing his position really well. Wendel Davis and Jerry Franklin have to step up and do a good job. Our defensive front as a group has to demonstrate leadership for us. We have a lot of experience coming back there with Adrian Davis, Jake Bequette and Malcolm Sheppard. The three of those guys have to help us become a better defense.”On the offensive line:“I think our offensive line is in a position where it will be very competitive for playing time. I’m very excited because I think we’ll be a lot better because of it. DeMarcus Love is a guy who can control the attitude and work ethic. He is at the right position at tackle. He’ll be comfortable out there. He can use his athletic ability and his long arms. He’s been very motivated. We will count on him to control the tempo of the offensive line. On the running backs:“They are going to be fighting for playing time and carries. It should be very competitive. We don’t know anything on Broderick Green yet. I wish I did know. I’m not sure when that answer is going to come in. De’Anthony Curtis and Dennis Johnson are coming back. Knile Davis will compete. Ronnie Wingo, Jr., the new freshman will be in there and we want to give him some reps early and see where he’s at and what he can contribute. He’s got great speed and the size to go with it. Mitchell Bailey is a guy who was interesting to me in the spring with the ability to play both running back and full back and catch the ball. He can bring a lot to the table and we’ll see where he fits in.”On the team getting better“I said this over the winter; our players are working hard every day to improve. We got out of survival mode. We go to workouts and attack it with an attitude and enthusiasm. Now we have to do it to together and do it every practice. When you don’t feel 100 percent and you still learn how to go full speed and hard is where you make the strides as a football team.”On the team expecting greatness:“I think they’ve learned to expect that from themselves. As a coach, you try to set the standard and set your expectations high, but the biggest thing is to teach them how to expect that from themselves how to expect it from each other. That’s what we’ve been working hard on is how to expect it day in and day out and how to expect it from the teammate that is right next to them.”On Arkansas’ new synthetic turf field:“I love it. I think it looks great and it will certainly help us play the game. I think it allows you to be precise as an offense. With what we ask our players to do with the timing and the passing and precision and quickness and speed of the running game, I think it will be an advantage for us.”On Broderick Green“I think he can be a full time tailback. He’s big and can be a pass protector who can also catch the ball out of the backfield. I don’t think anyone saw from the spring game what you are going to see out of that young man.”On talking to the team about preseason rankings:“We don’t talk to the team a lot about that. We talk a lot about what our expectations are. We have to prove ourselves. We understand we know we are going to be a better football team. I think we can be better than a lot of people think. The bottom line is we have to go out there and prove it. Until we do that, preseason predictions are all based on how you did the previous year and who you have coming back. That’s what they should be based off of, and it is up to us to prove it.”