Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino sees the similarities between Auburn's Cam Newton and the next challenge, Ohio State quarterback Terrell Pryor. And he knows why the Hogs struggled with Newton, in the last game they lost this season.
The Hogs will see Ohio State and Pryor in the BCS Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Jan. 4. He and the Hogs said the challenge is supreme.
"When you play a dual threat quarterback like Newton or Pryor, you have to play with your eyes and then play fast," Petrino said Tuesday after the Hogs' second workout since the regular season ended. "We didn't against (Newton). We had played fast all year but we didn't in that game."
Petrino put the Hogs through a two-hour workout Tuesday inside Walker Pavilion as the Hogs looked at youngsters after a fast-tempo 90 minutes with the varsity.
"It was good to get back to work," he said. "We did a lot of technique, a lot of ones versus ones. We went back to a lot of the same drills we did during two-a-days."
Petrino said he looked at video of Ohio State. He said he spent a good portion of the day looking at the Buckeyes versus Penn State.
"We aren't putting in our game plan just yet," he said. "We just wanted to get them out and get some work. It's a good chance for some of the younger players to get to show us what they can do. Guys who have been on the scout team all year can do some things in our offense and our defense instead of just focusing on giving us a look of the other team. They are excited."
Petrino singled out inside linebacker Braylon Mitchell for two good workouts. He said he wanted to wait a few more practices to say too much about other youngsters, but he did mention quarterback Jacoby Walker. The redshirt freshman came in at midterm last winter but sustained an ACL injury in spring drills.
"We let him get in some of the drills today without his knee brace," Petrino said. "He did some things where we didn't let him in with a pass rush. We'll probably put the brace back on later in our bowl workouts and put him in some rush situations."
Petrino was asked if the experience the Hogs had against Newton and other running quarterbacks in the SEC would help against Newton.
"I hope so," he said. "We've gone against some schemes that are similar to this. But it starts with your technique and your eyes. Then you have to play fast. We didn't play fast against (Newton). We hesitated in that game."
However, for the most part, Petrino was proud of the defense and the improvement shown this season on that side of the ball.
"We took a giant step forward on defense," he said. "I said that we needed to have a dominating performance early in the season to get some confidence and we did that. I thought we played with great effort on defense and we played for each other. Against LSU, we put them in bad position and they didn't give up many points."
Defensive end Jake Bequette said there is a pride factor in what the defense did this season.
"I think the big question before the season was can this defense step up," Bequette said. "I think we did. That's what is satisfying. We hadn't played good defense the previous seasons. We silenced the critics. We probably deserved to be criticized, but not anymore. I think we are a good defense now.
"We didn't accomplish all of our goals because we lost two games. That was our goal, to win all of them.
"But we bought into what our coaches were teaching. Willy Robinson, our defensive coordinator, gave us a complex system. We learned it and we ran his system this year.
"He's a very experienced coach. He's been in all situations, NFL and in a lot of situations around the country in college. All of his experience helped us. He'd been with the big boys and we knew that. His personality was very energetic and that is what he brought to us. He gave us some zone blitz schemes and taught us how to put pressure on the other team."
Bequette knows Pryor will be a fantastic quarterback.
"As a defensive end, the perfect quarterback to go after is a statue," he said. "You like someone who is going to sit there and let you come after him. He'll work the pocket, but he's going to go if he gets a chance. You can't afford to let him into the open field.
"Pryor is a great competitor and a great athlete. He likes it when they put a lot on them. If they get in a tough situation, they are going to let him go and that's when he's really good."
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