University of Arkansas football head coach Bobby Petrino met with the media Thursday afternoon to recap the spring. The following is a partial transcript:
Opening Statement “I really feel like we got a lot accomplished as a football team. We worked extremely hard in the contact, tackle and being physical phase of football. I liked what I saw from our leadership within the team and I think that is something that will be fun to evaluate over the summer is how those guys take over the leadership. One thing we always do is wait until we return the first day of camp to vote for captains so they see who the leaders are throughout the entire summer workouts. Defensively, we improved a lot. I’m very impressed with our front four. I think we have the chance to be a good defensive line. I do feel like we are going to need one or two guys to come in and add depth and size on the defensive front. Our linebackers are much better. A year of experience and understanding the defense helped us play a lot faster there. Jerry Franklin has shown he can be a great player. Wendel Davis is starting to get comfortable and is now starting to become a great player. Freddy Burton has to learn how to play every play. He’s shown flashes. We have to continue to build depth and there is a lot of competition there, which will really help. A young guy like Matt Marshall had a very good spring game. He got to play a lot of plays and made a bunch of tackles. He showed he likes being physical and that helps us a lot. I think in the secondary is where we will have the most competition in the fall. Guys will be battling for spots. The guy that improved the most in the secondary in the spring was Isaac Madision. His consistency, understanding how to play the position and working at the details of his technique really improved. In the safeties, we’ll have a lot of competition there. Not only from the guys that are on the team right now, but from the junior college players that will be joining us. That will be fun to see how all that plays out. Offensively, it is continue to work on the running game. There were times in the spring where I felt like we were getting it and starting to make improvement, but then in the spring game I felt like we took a step backwards in the running game. Some of that is good to see, it is hard to say, but it is good to see. A guy like Mitch Petrus, who had a real good spring, can be a big force for our offensive line. This was the first time Coach Summers was on the sideline and not out on the field coaching him after every play so he had to be able to get back to the huddle and get back to the line of scrimmage and perform. The understanding of them being able to perform play in and play out when the coach is on the sideline is something we have to learn and do a better job of. I really like the move with DeMarcus Love going to tackle. His skills and his ability to play out there is the right position for him. (Wade) Grayson has to keep working on center and we have to get Seth Oxner more reps at center and guard. The two of them have to be able to play both. Hopefully, one or two guys come in and add depth in the fall. I really felt like the quarterbacks and receivers developed a good understanding of the passing game. Our timing and ability to throw the ball deep we really improved there. I know the receivers better now and the quarterbacks know them better now and what they can do and what their strengths are. That helps us get a lot better. Tight end you feel real good about D.J. (Williams) coming back and having a good year for us. Ben Cleveland showed he can get in there and play. Overall, his spring was good and he made big strides. Chris Gragg, who unfortunately missed the last couple of weeks of spring, will be a big threat for us and he’ll continue to get bigger and strong throughout the summer. I think Van Stumon had a really good spring game and showed he can help us at tight end or h-back and fullback, which is a major plus coming out of spring for us. As far as the quarterbacks go, if we were starting and playing Missouri State on Saturday Ryan Mallett would start and the first series of the second quarter I would bring in Tyler Wilson and let him play that first series and then Jim Youngblood would be third. We do have a long way to go before that opening game. I’ve done that before throughout the entire season where the backup quarterback came in and played the first series of every second quarter. I actually got that from Howard (Schnellenberger). It worked out great for us and it is something he did his whole time at the University of Miami and at Louisville. It didn’t matter who the starter was, but that’s how I’d probably play it if we were playing Saturday. We are not doing that so there is a long way to go. The evaluation process will continue. We will evaluate all throughout the summer. We have to make sure they are doing things right and into two-a-days. I really liked the spring game and the way it played out. It was great to have the support from the fans. I know it was a bad, hard, rainy day, but still to have that many people out for the game is exciting for us and our football players. It was great to be able to have the ex players back and to be able to have that presentation at halftime. To have Darren McFadden there, Felix Jones there and Tony Bua and on and on and on. To have them out on the field is something we will try to build on and try to have the tradition of giving out the seniors awards at halftime and getting as many ex players involved as we can. I think it was really good for our players after the spring game to be able to spend time with some of the young kids and fans. Some of the things D.J. Williams did after the game is very positive for our program. It is fun for me to see our players interact and spend time with the young guys that support us.”
On Ryan Mallett“His first strength is his overall knowledge of what we are trying to do offensively. His ability to run the show, get the play, step in the huddle, get to the line of scrimmage, know if we are in a good play or a bad play and run the show. He has the overall understanding more of what we want to do there. He certainly can throw the ball down the field and operate the quick passing game as long as he gets his feet set. He has to show more consistency in his decision making and delivery. I’ve said previously; when he doesn’t do something right to get down a little bit. He has to get rid of that when we start right away. Obviously, at quarterback you will have plays that don’t go well and you don’t make the throw right. You have to put that behind you and move on to the next play. As well as making a good play. I’ve coached quarterbacks who throw a touchdown pass and they want to celebrate it and think about that and then they don’t play well the next series. The number one thing you have to do at that position is play one play at a time and if that play is good or bad you evaluate it, put it behind you and move on to the next play.”
On Tyler Wilson“He really understands what he needs to do in order to win the job or get more playing time and that is improve from underneath the center, improve in the points in the run game and really understand the entire package of the offense. I’ve always said and I tell Tyler this all the time, when he’s standing there and just has to throw the football he’s as good as there is. I really believe that. I think his instincts and ability to just throw it, but there is more to it than just that. He improved throughout the entire spring on that to over the winter understanding the position, but he still has a ways to go.”
On the speed of the defense“I think we are getting there and there isn’t any doubt about that. I think sometimes we didn’t show our speed on defense. This week and next I take time to meet individually with each player sometimes their 40 time doesn’t relate to how fast they are playing on the field and that is experience. We are working on it and getting better at it. I think our defensive ends will be a part of that. The improvement of their ability to play fast is really going to help us. We have to do a better job of putting pressure on the quarterback with the four man rush so we can stay in coverage more.
— HOGS —