FAYETTEVILLE – It was the final practice for the Arkansas football team in pads and in Fayetteville on Wednesday as it prepares for its final game of the 2008 season, a Friday afternoon confrontation with the LSU Tigers at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, Ark.
The Razorbacks used their final day to finalize the LSU game plan and continued to stress the basics like tackling and blocking despite working out in just shoulder pads and shorts at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
“Well, we finished our short week of practice,” Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino said. “It didn’t seem like a short week when you start pounding on it Sunday morning when you get back here. I thought our players did a nice job, they worked hard. It’s been kind of a mix between extra meetings, shorter full out practice and more walkthroughs. I think that it was a good mix and that we have a good game plan, our guys will be focused and go out there and play with great effort, they have to be able to find a way to win the close game, win the game in the fourth quarter. We’ve had too many opportunities where we didn’t get it done.”
One concern could be a let down by the Razorbacks since this is Arkansas’ last game of the season, but Petrino knows that the result of this game could mean more down the road than it does on Friday.
“This is no different from any other game,” Petrino said. “We are playing to win the game. It’s not like, ‘hey, let’s play young guys or anything like that.’ We are going to do whatever we can to win this football game. It’s been an evaluation process the entire year, the practices, the scout team, you evaluate those guys every day. This is really about getting a win, getting a good start for next season, the last game of the year is always a start for next season so we have to come out and play real well.”
Petrino also addressed Arkansas’ running back situation for Friday as leading rusher Michael Smith is unavailable for the contest. Junior Brandon Barnett and freshmen Dennis Johnson and De’Anthony Curtis should each see time in the Arkansas backfield against the Tigers.
“They are all going to play and get carries,” Petrino said. “I think that [Dennis Johnson] is going to be in there at the start of it, but we are going to rotate them in. They have all been very focused, taking it very serious and look at it as a great opportunity and I like the way that they’ve practiced. Every time they are not taking the rep they are standing right behind the tail back and going through it mentally and they have been helping each other out a lot which is good.”
Following Friday’s game the Razorback coaches go right to work preparing for the 2009 season and hit the recruiting trails in search of the next crop of Arkansas newcomers.
“The coaches go right on the road,” Petrino said about the coaches’ post-season plans. “Sunday is the first day of contact so the coaches will be out on the road, in the schools, in the homes. We work as hard as we can in recruiting, make sure we get out and see everybody we have on our list, everybody we have committed and guys we are trying to get committed.”
The Razorbacks and Tigers square off at War Memorial Stadium at 1:30 p.m., Friday. For more information regarding Razorback football or University of Arkansas athletics please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.