FAYETTEVILLE — University of Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino and several playersaddressed the mediaWednesday afternoon to give an outlook on spring football practices.
The media event, which include Ryan Mallett, Isaac Madison, Jake Bequette and Tyler Wilson was streamed live at ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
Practices begin Tuesday, March 30, and will be open to the public. The Red-White game will be held April 24 at 6 p.m. A complete spring schedule along with guidelines for fans attending practices will be posted on ArkansasRazorbacks.com in the days ahead.
At today’s press conference, Coach Petrino released the spring roster and depth chart.
Fans can also look forward to visiting ArkansasRazorbacks.com in the coming days to view the annual spring prospectus.
Select quotes from today’s press conference follow:
Head Coach Bobby Petrino:Opening Statement:"We’ve had a good offseason. I was very impressed with how our players worked in the weight room and in conditioning drills. I think our attitude has been good, our work ethic has been very good and we’ve seen a lot of improvement. We have an excellent strength and conditioning staff, led by Coach (Jason) Veltkamp. With the one-on-one meetings he has with the players and the goals they set through the winter, I’ve been impressed at how we’ve been able to meet those goals."
"I’m excited about spring ball. I’m excited about the depth we have coming back and the guys we will have competing to try to take other guys’ jobs. That’s the first thing about spring football; it’s about competition for positions. Everybody gets an opportunity to go out and see how they affect the depth chart. That’s something I’m looking forward to."
"We have three new coaches, so we spent a lot of time in the offseason going back and re-teaching or adjusting our offensive and defensive schemes. That has been good for all of us. We have guys who are quick learners and guys with experience. The next part of spring ball is to go out and work on our confidence and executing what we do offensively and defensively. We’ve got players who are great competitors and want to win every drill but you still have to work on the team building aspect, even though it is competition back and forth."
On the quarterbacks:"It’ll be great. We expect Tyler (Wilson) to jump out with the ones and Tyler is excited about it getting a lot of the reps. He’s certainly done a nice job in the leadership role. (Ryan) Mallett will just have to do a good job in the meetings and get a better understanding of taking reps, without really doing it. He’s done that before during his first spring when he transferred. He’s had a good offseason, too. He’s continued to work hard in the weight room and leading without actually being in front to lead. Now we get to work three other quarterbacks with Brandon Mitchell and Jacoby Walker. I’m excited to see what Brandon can do. He’s 6-4, 230 pounds and he can run. He adds some things to your offense by being able to make plays with his legs. He’s got to show us he can be consistent throwing the ball, that he can convert third downs versus tight coverage. I know he’s worked hard in the offseason and we’ll see how it goes through spring ball with his ability to throw the football on a consistent basis."
"Jacoby (Walker) is a guy that we brought in mid-year. We got him at a time where we weren’t sure if Ryan (Mallett) was going to come back and I tried to get him in here on a visit without offering him a scholarship. We decided to go ahead and be better safe than sorry and I’m really glad we did that. He’s very mature and has a great understanding of football. That was the number one thing that impressed Coach (Garrick) McGee was when he went out on the road and sat down and visited with him. They went through offensive schemes, defensive schemes and his knowledge of the game of football was so high. Since he has been here, he has had great leadership ability. He’s very natural at it and very confident. I’m excited to see how he does in the spring."
Quarterback Ryan Mallett:Opening Statement:"I’m ready to get back out there with the guys and be able to go full speed. What I have to do is take my time, not rush it and get ready for the season. The plan is to be in a walking boot a couple of weeks after spring break. My role this spring is going to be the same I am just not going to taking any snaps. I am going to helping others guys especially the quarterbacks and the young guys, like Jacoby (Walker). It is his first spring and I am not sure he knows what to do yet but he is a smart kid and very athletic and can throw the ball. I am excited to see him get out there with the pads and see what he can do at full speed."
On his injury:"Obviously, I would rather it happen now if it was going to happen, than during the season. In season the only thing I would be able to do for my team if I sat out would be as a cheerleader. I can play now and that is what I want to do. It hurts that I am missing practice. Those are some valuable reps but it gives the young guys some experience in a full speed live scrimmages and practices. During fall practice I hurt it a bit and it was sore but not like when I broke it. I kept playing on it and wasn’t going to let that stop me from going out there and playing."
On Tyler Wilson and the quarterbacks:"Tyler is a mature young man. He is going into his third year and this is his second spring. You can see that in how he carries himself. He mentioned that he is a caretaker and its his team this spring because he is playing. I am very proud of him for that. Those guys have been working really hard. Jacoby came in and has really impressed me in the weight room and on the field. Brandon, you can just see it. He is athletic and is working on some techniques with throwing. If they have any questions they know they can come to me with any questions and when you have four strong quarterbacks and can talk about it, it makes the whole group better."
Quarterback Tyler Wilson:On being the spring starter: "I’ve been really looking forward to it. Through the fall I’ve made great strides to be more comfortable in that position for the spring. I’ve gained more knowledge and understanding and I’m so happy to be in this position."
On having trouble taking snaps in games:"It’s more difficult than some people realize because sometimes you work with a center in practice that you aren’t working with during a game. It complicates things and makes them difficult but we’ve been working on it and I think we’ll have a better handle on it this spring."
On Coach Klenakis: "When he was at Nevada they were leading the nation in rushing so I definitely think he brings a lot of good things to the offensive line that will help our team tremendously."
On his new confidence:"I think it’s just maturity. I’m a lot more comfortable now knowing the offenses and how to read the defenses. It’s not something I have to think about anymore, it’s a reaction now, and I’m still getting better every day."
Cornerback Isaac Madison: On how he feels physically: "I’m feeling great. The knee is healing as planned. I’m getting stronger and faster as I’ve made the transition from the training room to the weight room. I’ve been doing a lot of running and cutting and doing all that I can keep getting better. All of my focus is set on getting back on the field and being better than I was."
On how tough it was to watch the last season:"It was tough, very hard to see all the guys I went through spring, summer, and camp with to be out there without me. I took that time though to watch and to learn my team and to learn how I am as a player to get better for this year. I gained a lot mentally."
On the excitement for spring practice: "I’m really excited about spring ball. It’s the first time that I’ve gotten to go out and actually compete and touch a ball. I’m fired up and ready to see where I’m at."
Opening Statement:"I have had a really good off season so far. As a team we have worked really hard in the weight room. I can definitely say this is my best off season personally in the weight room as far as my numbers."
On the goals for the team:"Coach has made it clear that we do have the pieces to contend for a national championship but we have not been too wrapped up in expectations. The first thing we have to do is go out and practice in the spring and continue to get better. The wins and losses will take care of themselves in the fall but we can’t worry about that we have to focus on continuing to get better. Our number one goal in the spring is to bring that up."
"Our goal is to bring up the caliber of our defense, we always set our expectations high and in order to do that we have to be more consistent. We have to have those complete games and we are holding teams in singles digits and really shutting them down. We want to keep the ball in our offenses hands and allow them to be really successful."