Classic Execution

University of Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino made it clear on Wednesday's SEC Teleconference that while he has great respect for Texas A&M, but that the big thing about this weekend's Southwest Classic showdown is his team's execution, not the importance of the game to the opponent.

This weekend's second annual Southwest Classic matchup between the University of Arkansas and Texas A&M is apparently being portrayed as a really big game in College Station.

Per a Texas-based writer on the SEC Teleconference Wednesday morning, the Aggies see the contest as a possible validation of their improvement from last season's 47-19 hammering by the Razorbacks and also yet another gauge of the Big 12 vs. the SEC.

But University of Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino wasn't taking the bait.

"What we do is worry about ourselves and preparing our team and having a great team of practice," Petrino said. "We talk all the time about our preparation in meetings and our practice on the field and that leads up to how we are going to perform on Saturday. Our focus is completely on us and taking care of business the way we need to preparing for a very, very good football team – one that can really throw it and run it and is very aggressive on defense."

The No. 11 Razorbacks (3-1) and unranked Aggies (3-1) meet at 2:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon in a game televised by ABC from Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

"We had a good practice last night and we are all looking forward to going down to Dallas. It was a lot of fun last year and we had a tremendous crowd from the state of Arkansas there. It will be interesting to see how it all goes this year. We are looking forward to the game. They are a very good football team and we know it will be a good challenge for us."

Arkansas has 26 players on its team and thus it is a benefit to play in Texas each season as it does with the Southwest Classic against their old SWC foe.

But the key thing is to win while in that state or any place else according to Petrino.

"I think this game has really helped our recruiting in the state of Texas and our players – we have 26 guys on our roster from the state of Texas – to be able to go back home and play in the most beautiful stadium in America are all things that are very good," Petrino said, "but we certainly think for recruiting – like every week – you need to perform well. People watch the game on national TV and how you do is something that has generated a lot of interest in our school."

It's clear that Petrino and his staff are focused on limiting the success of Aggie QB Jerrod Johnson (6-5, 248), who has had 10 turnovers and been sacked 10 times, but also accounted for 8 TDs in the past two weeks.

"They present a lot of challenges for us, but obviously the ability of the quarterback to throw the ball downfield and run around and make plays by himself," Petrino said. "Being able to run and make yards with his legs causes you some concerns about being disciplined in your rushing lanes and tackling and keeping your eyes on your man and not coming off your man when he is able to break it and contain and buy some time."

Speaking of time, the bye week certainly helped Arkansas get some for its injured players to heal up.

"It helped us a lot," Petrino said. "It was a very physical and tough-fought game (against Alabama). We had some guys that were banged up and bruised. We had a few guys that went through parts of practice last week, maybe not all of them, but we have had everyone ready to go since Sunday and I feel good about our health right now."


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