University of Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino, quarterback Ryan Mallett, running back Michael Smith and defensive end Jake Bequette met with the media at a press conference on Monday. Below is a brief transcript.
On position depth:"There are a couple positions that where the competition has been really tight towards the end of fall camp. We still have a week to figure out who’s going to get the most reps. The competition between Greg Childs and London Crawford is still up in the air. Greg was ahead of him in camp but in the last scrimmage London played better. This week will determine who steps on the field first. Both guys will play a lot so they’ll keep each other fresh."
On De’Anthony Curtis at fullback:"De’Anthony has done a nice job at fullback in this fall camp. He’s done a good job at blocking. He’s done a nice job on lead blocks and on our outside runs. He’s done a nice job catching the ball out of the backfield. He’s still competing with Van Stumon and that gives us good depth at that position."
On true freshmen taking the field:"We are planning on playing all of the freshmen listed on the depth chart. There are one or two that we are still looking at and are preparing them to play. If no injuries occur, then they will be able to redshirt but if something happens, they can step in."
On Saturday’s scrimmage:"We did not do very well on offense on the first drive but after that we moved the ball really well. Coach was real happy with the way the defense played since they flew around and hit people. It was good scrimmage, real competitive."
On the Missouri State:"We started working on it last week, but we are going to go full force on it today. We expect to execute and move the ball up and down the field and score a lot of points. We are drawing up every possible three-four play. I think this preparation will help us throughout the season."
On team chemistry:"I think our team chemistry right now is 100 times better than it was last year. You can see how our players talk to each other walking out to practice. I think they hang out together a lot more. I think we are just a tighter team. We have a lot of guys who are trying to lead out on the field. You can feel and see how we are a lot closer unit."
On Ryan Mallett:"I’ve always been a big fan of Ryan so my expectations for him are pretty high. I think he has a great chance to have a really good year for us. He just has to keep improving."
On the tight end position:"Ben Cleveland has improved the last few weeks. D.J. Williams has worked hard at making himself a complete player. He has improved on his blocking. That really helps. We moved Colton Nash there as a true freshman. He’s working hard and still learning, still getting adjusted."
On playing his first game as a Razorback:"It’s going to be an amazing experience. I’m really looking forward to running out of the "A". I’m really looking forward to it all and being with the team in Little Rock. It’s a great atmosphere. We need to start the season off strong."
On Friday’s scrimmage:"We still have things we need to work on this week. I think we are at a good point right now. We have to keep getting better every week. I think we are doing a good job of that. (Friday’s scrimmage) was the closest thing we’ve come to that is a game-like situation. We were substituting like a game, going through our special teams’ drills. I think that helped some of the younger guys to get an idea of what our first game is going to be like."
On watching from the sidelines last season:"I wanted to be out there with my teammates. It was disappointing sitting on the sidelines but it was something I had to do. Being on the field this year will be a lot different and I’m looking forward to it."
On the potential of the offense:"It’s a wait-and-see situation. We know what we can do as long as we execute. Once we get the ball where it needs to go, we know how explosive we can be."
On the importance of starting off well:"This is our starting point. We don’t need to come out sluggish; we need to come out firing. We need to come out and make plays. We need to start better than we did last year and get going in the first game earlier than we did last year. We have watched film from the first game last year and it’s a night and day difference as far the players understanding of the offense and their position, where they are supposed to be lining up, what route they are supposed to run and the blocking scheme. I think you are going to see a different football team from the first game last year."
"We’re not overlooking anyone. We’re going into this week game planning like it’s any other opponent. We are going to try for a lot of three-and-outs and score a lot of points."
On the differences in his first game at Michigan vs. his first game at Arkansas:"It’s football so it doesn’t matter where I am playing; I always going to have the same feeling. We are going out there to get a job done and have fun while we are doing it."
"There’s a lot more anticipation for this game because it has been such a long break for me. This first play is the beginning of a new chapter for me and it’s exciting."
"Anytime you can get experience playing college football and adjusting to the speed of the game, it’s going to help you. I haven’t forgotten what it is like to play college football and playing for Arkansas is going to be a new situation for me."
On the improvements he’s made:"I’ve been working a lot on my footwork and being consistent. I’ve been working on my overall knowledge of the offense."
On Missouri State:"They changed to a three-four defense this year. We are game planning for that. They are athletic. We are going to play our style of football."
On the depth at running back:"Everybody brings something different to the table. That’s why there are so many (running backs listed on the depth chart). Coach Petrino is very situational and every situation requires a different type of back. There’s a lot of room for everybody to play in different situations. He’s going to play the running back who will deliver the best results in that situation."
On the offensive line:"They are more excited and less exhausted. They are more physical and the guards are faster this year. The tackles don’t let as many guides off the edge and our center is doing a really good job. I think they have more confidence this season and everybody is ready to go play."
On Friday’s scrimmage:"It started out tough for the offense. We weren’t clicking like we needed to. It picked up after the first play and we were rolling pretty well. We need to make sure that doesn’t happen again Saturday. Every scrimmage this season has been physical but we have gotten a lot out of it."
On starting out the season:"As a team leader, I definitely want to be out there to be the jump start for the team. Or one of the jump starts. Saturday can’t come fast enough for us."
On how many carries he may get:"I don’t know how many carries I’m going to have. I don’t know if Coach knows yet. What he has told me is that I need to be ready at all times."
"You always want to touch the ball as a running back. I’m looking forward to getting back out there and getting some carries. I’m also looking forward to not being exhausted in the fourth quarter or not having to get an IV during halftime. I think I have the chance to be more productive this season."
On team chemistry:"It starts at the top. The coaches know the players better; the players know the coaches better. We have a better of idea of what the coaches are expecting from us. We know the system better. We are more confident in what we are doing and the system we are playing in."
On Missouri State:"We have watched a lot of film. They run a spread offense. They are a running team. They run what we call a "12-person offense" with two tight ends. They have a good quarterback from Rogers, Cody Kirby. I played against him in high school. He’s a good athlete and a very good competitor. He’s going to be ready to play because this game is in Arkansas and it’s going to be a big game for him. They are not a team we are going to take lightly at all."
On last season’s opener again Western Illinois:"It’s in the front of our minds. No one wants a repeat of what happened last year against Western Illinois. We are miles ahead of where we were last year as a team. That kind of game will leave an impression. We are going to be completely focused on coming out with 100 percent energy and confidence in our assignments."
On the status of the defense:"I think with any defense, it takes a little while to see how good you are, a game or two. You have been going against your own offense for so long. We are confident. We are miles ahead of where we were last year as a defense. With all the depth chart changes, Coach always wants to promote an environment of competition and we embrace that."
On Friday’s scrimmage:"It was the consensus among our coaches that this was one of the defense’s best scrimmages. We played with a lot of energy. We played in more game-like situations. We fed off that game-like energy and we played fast. Overall, it went well for the defense."
On keeping the momentum going in Little Rock:"We definitely want to keep it going, especially after our win over LSU last year. For me personally, it’s very special to play at War Memorial Stadium. I played my high school games there. This game is hopefully going to be the springboard to our success this season. Everyone is right excited about starting off well, and in Little Rock, and keeping the ball rolling."