FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas Razorback football team continued spring practices with a two-hour workout Wednesday afternoon. The squad practiced inside Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in shells.
"Today was a little bit better," offensive coordinator Garrick McGee said. "We have to learn that you have to push yourself beyond where your mind thinks you can go. That’s where we are right now. I expect us to have a good meeting day tomorrow. I expect them to take care of their bodies tomorrow and come out here Friday, ready to work. We’ll have a really good, tough practice on Friday."
Arkansas’ crop of running backs has been making a name for themselves during spring practices. With numerous lettermen returning at that position, McGee was pleased to see junior Dennis Johnson shine recently in spring drills.
"Dennis Johnson continues to make plays for us," McGee said. "He’s a tough little runner. He’s powerful; he’s quick. I’m really starting to see him grow up and become a leader. I like what Dennis is doing right now."
Leadership has been an underlying theme during head coach Bobby Petrino’s time at Arkansas and continues to be stressed to this season’s squad. McGee is looking for leadership to emerge during spring ball.
"It’s really important to establish good leadership in the spring before fall camp and the season get started," McGee said. "Leadership has to come from within the team. It can’t be from the coaches. We have to continue to develop those leaders. We have to give them the freedom to lead and they have to take charge. When things aren’t going right, we need to see our leaders step up and take charge. It’s a little different right now with Ryan Mallett not out there. He is the leader of this team. But this is the opportunity for someone else to step up with leadership from within."
With Ryan Mallett sidelined because of injury, spring practices have become an opportunity for younger quarterbacks like sophomore Tyler Wilson, redshirt freshman Brandon Mitchell and junior Nick Petrino to pick up some quality reps in practice.
"I think the quarterbacks took a step forward this week," McGee said. "I was disappointed with the scrimmage. They did not anticipate or deal with the pressure very well. They played okay against zone but they never did anticipate the blitzes or do things to get us in better position. I think they did a good job this week in the meeting room, studying defensive fronts, defensive structure, understanding where the pressures are coming from. I expect them to show up Friday and have a really good day."
Arkansas is scheduled to return to the practice field at 4 p.m. Friday. Razorback practices throughout the spring are open to the public. The Red-White spring game presented by Cox Digital Cable will be held at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Saturday, April 24. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.