FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas football team continued practice Saturday morning inside the Walker Pavilion as preparation for the 2010 AutoZone Liberty Bowl matchup against East Carolina continues. Following the workout, UA head coach Bobby Petrino spoke with the media:
On Saturday’s practice:"It was fun this morning. It was good to get out here. We didn’t have all the players because we had some guys who had finals, but we had to get a practice in today. We’ll practice against tomorrow then take Monday and Tuesday off. We’ll come back late Wednesday afternoon and get a practice in when finals are over. It is an interesting time because you are balancing recruiting, preparation for the bowl game and practice and finals. We have to the best we can. We have some practices where some coaches haven’t been there since they were on the road recruiting. The guys have a great attitude and we are really looking forward to the preparation for the bowl game. We’ve been able to watch enough East Carolina to get an idea of what they are doing. Monday morning we will really start hitting it hard on the game planning so we get a good two weeks preparation for the game."
On Malcolm Sheppard:"In the two years I’ve been here, he’s been a pleasure to coach. He comes to work every day and gives you the best effort. He has a great motor. He’s spent a lot of time trying to learn and understand the position. He’s improved on knowing what the offense is doing also. His ability to understand offensive line schemes has taken a huge step from a year ago. He plays with so much effort and has a smile on his face every day. He’s one of those guys you love to coach."
On getting a team ready for a January bowl game:"You worry about being rusty and not executing early. After the first two years I was at Louisville, we did come out and did tackling and had some live work because the first two years I was there we didn’t tackle well in the bowl game and take care of the ball as well as you need to. That is one thing we will do. We will do some live work and live tackling. Taking care of the football and taking care of the football are the keys."
On East Carolina:"We always had respect for them when I was at Louisville. It was always a tough game and they had good players. I think Coach Holtz has done an excellent job in recruiting. When you look at their defensive front and see the guys they are playing with could all play in our league. They do a real nice job of coaching. He’s won back-to-back championships, so he’s done an excellent job there."
On the importance of bowl practice time for the younger players:"It is critical and I really believe that is how you get better. That’s how you get guys reps so they feel comfortable. Then when you start spring practice they get themselves in a position to compete for a starting job or second team job and work their way up the depth chart. There is nothing like getting practice in with the young guys"
On Mitch Petrus:"He had a great year for us and I couldn’t be more proud of him. Not being able to play last year, we were all upset and down about it. He matured tremendously in the season he had to sit out. He’s done an excellent job in class and is guy we rely on for toughness. We ran the ball behind him and he had a great season for us. He’s supposed to get his degree at the end of this semester, which is a great thing. I think the scouts really like him with his strength, his ability to get out and run and the effort he plays with. He’s a good technician. I’d be very surprised if he didn’t get drafted somewhere."