FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Arkansas football team opened its spring practice sessions Thursday with a two-hour workout inside Willard and Pat Walker Pavilion. It was the Razorbacks first time on the field under head coach Bobby Petrino.
“It was good to get the first practice in,” Petrino said. “I thought our coaches did a good job in the meetings getting (the players) prepared. I liked the way we came out with the enthusiasm, but this is the easiest practice we’ll have all spring because we’ve had time to prepare for it.”
Petrino said he is looking forward to the rest of the week to see how the players adapt to the new plays and schemes that will be added over the next few weeks. The coaching staff is looking to add new information as the workouts continue.
“We’ll keep installing and putting new stuff in,” Petrino said. “So we have to make sure we get better each day and understand what we’re doing, scheme wise. I saw a lot of positives and a lot of things we need to improve on.”
In regards to the team’s speed during Thursday’s practice, Petrino was pleased but said the Hogs weren’t where they need to be yet and that he wants to work at a faster pace.
Though it is still early for in-depth analysis of individual performance, Petrino said tailback Michael Smith looked really quick during the practice. The head coach also pointed to receiver Marques Wade as a player Arkansas is looking to contribute to the team’s success.
“We expect Marques to be a player for us,” Petrino said. “He’s got the size. He’s fast and he’s worked extremely hard during the off season. I think he’s been watching video and studying as much as anybody. I think his confidence level is up and that’s the main thing we need to do with our receivers is to make sure we get them confident.”
Ryan Mallett saw his first action on the field as a Razorback after transferring to the program. Petrino said the sophomore quarterback has the ability to help Arkansas but still needs to work on some fundamental aspects of the position.
“(Ryan) needs to get reps,” Petrino said. “There’s still a possibility that he can be eligible and Ryan is working hard on his technique and his footwork, making sure he’s in the right spot to throw the ball. He certainly has the arm strength.”
The Razorback head coach also discussed the importance of his quarterback group being on time to receivers and accurate with its throws. Marked as an early strength for the team, Petrino said he liked how the offensive line was starting to get off the ball.
With Thursday’s practice moved inside due to bad weather, Petrino said he looks forward to better weather the rest of the week which would get the team outside on the practice fields and give the Razorback fans a chance to watch the team.
“We would rather be outside,” Petrino said. “I think that’s the one thing you want to do in spring is get outdoors. I want the fans to be able to here and have the players in front of the fans.”
The Hogs will return to practice Friday with a scheduled start time of 4 p.m. The practice will be open to the public if it is held outdoors, but will be closed if moved indoors due to space constraints inside Walker Pavilion. Log on to www.hogwired.com for more news about Razorback football.