Counting kicking situations, the Hogs went well over 200 on in Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Knocking out the kicks, it was at 196 total plays from scrimmage. Petrino was beaming about the pure volume and the competitive nature of the heated workout. Walk-on linebacker Austin Jones went down to a leg injury, but the Hogs survived without losing any regulars.
"Wooo," Petrino said. "That was a lot of snaps."
No one argued. Included were four possessions at the end to simulate an overtime situation. The first offense -- with Tyler Wilson -- won that matchup. But the defenses forced a pair of Zach Hocker field goals in the first two tries from the 25-yard line without giving up a first down.
That was typical of the day. There was plenty of offensive numbers. Quarterback Tyler Wilson, working with the ones and twos, completed 34 of 52 passes for 422 yards. He had two TD passes and one interception. Joe Adams was his favorite target. The senior wideout snared 12 for 187 yards and two scores. Wilson led six TD marches on the day.
Adams had four catches for 57 yards in an 11-play, 80-yard TD drive to open the day, engineered by Wilson. Petrino said the early script written by offensive coordinator Garrick McGee was designed to feature Adams. McGee said he knew as early as breakfast that Adams came to play.
McGee said he continues to see Adams progress in his total knowledge of the system and the way to attack defenses.
"It's about learning everything we do and how it matches up against the defense," he said. "You see him continue to learn. For example, when we go against zone, you know that by how the linebackers drop. You know that against zone, you catch and spin and go hard up the field. Against man, you know that you are going to continue to go laterally across the field. Joe knows when he's hit it right and he'll tell you coming back to the huddle, 'Oh, I should have made the spin against the zone.' That's the progression."
While the offense posted some nice numbers, they didn't always finish drives. Petrino was upset at turnovers in the "critical zone," by both Wilson and Brandon Mitchell, the two fighting for the No. 1 quarterback job. Wilson had an interception and also failed to get a handoff to Knile Davis at the end of a long drive on a first-and-10 snap from the 16-yard line. The handoff bounced of Davis' hip and was recovered by Ross Rasner.
Petrino shouted, "That's another turnover in the red zone." Later, he hit that theme again when he visited with the media.
"We made a lot of improvement through the week," Petrino said. "Today we flunked the test in the so called redzone, or critical zone as we call it. I think we had three turnovers in the critical zone and that is something you cannot have."
He has been consistent with loud corrections directed at both quarterbacks throughout the spring. He went over that in his post-scrimmage assessment with the media.
"I'm trying to fluster them," Petrino said. "Tyler did a nice job of focusing on each play. Today was not one of Brandon's best days. He made some errors that he had not been making. He has had a great week."
Mitchell had two interceptions, one that bounced off receiver Julian Horton right to Elton Ford's hands in the red zone. Ford returned it 85 yards for a touchdown. Mitchell was 15 of 28 passing for 239 yards with one touchdown. While he was at quarterback, the offense had two touchdown drives.
Interestingly, both Wilson and Mitchell had passes batted back to them, something Wilson doesn't want to repeat.
"I heard that Brett Favre's first pass was one he ended up catching so there's that, but that's never what you want to happen as a quarterback," Wilson said. "Next time I will just bat it down so we can have a 2nd-and-10 and if you catch it, you have a bunch of defensive linemen there ready to hit you right in the chops. So I will bat it down and live to play another day."
Defensively, there were plenty of highlights. There was brilliant one-hand stab by safety Tramain Thomas of a Wilson deep ball.
"That's the second one of those this spring," Petrino said. "He's got one left handed and one right handed. He's got one of the best vertical jumps on our team. It was a great play, but it should have been intercepted."
That drew applause from the crowd of around 1,000. But the fans really got into it when Petrino decided to go for a fourth-and-1 from the defense's 32-yard line midway through the scrimamge. The defense -- with Jerry Franklin, Tenarius Wright and Jerico Nelson firing through gaps -- dominated.
In fact, the defense dominated on eight straight plays, going back to the third-and-1 that set things up. Mitchell, the quarterback that possession, was incomplete on a throw to Joe Adams broken up by Jerry Mitchell. Then, on the first fourth-and-1, Knile Davis slipped on his cut and came up about one foot short.
Broderick Green failed to gain on two of the seven fourth-and-1 calls, fumbling once. Wingo was stopped before Davis failed on the last three plays.
Petrino said the situation favored defensive coordinator Willy Robinson since he did have some blitz options. He said the Hogs were not operating with a short yardage package.
"We don't have those packages and formations in right now," he said. "We let Willy line up with everyone on the line and get aggressive. Knile should have had it on the first one, but he slipped."
Still, McGee said Mitchell could have checked out of any of the plays to beat the blitz.
"That was really good for the defense," McGee said. "They are quick and fast at the second level and have big, powerful defensive linemen up front. But the quarterback was not making good checks. Against those type of house blitzes, we've been getting touchdowns."
Mitchell had his positive moments. He was 15 of 28 passing with one TD and two interceptions. However, he knew he didn't get it done in the red zone.
"Some of it felt good," he said. "But we are not where we want to be. We got better this week. We've done a good job in some areas. Give credit to the offensive line and the rest of the offense.
"I've had some good plays. Tyler has helped me grow. He's a big part of me getting better. We've both tried to help each other get better."
McGee sees the strides by the quarterbacks.
"They did well early today," he said. "Our percentages have been going up this week. They understand the focus in the meeting room. They are taking notes. They are taking that onto the field. They understand the focus it takes on the field.
"We are still pushing to find that leader, the dominant player, the confident leader of this team. The position is hard to play and we run a complex offense against a very complex defense. They are improving and getting to the point where they are trusting what they are taught.
"I believe it's important to both of them. They want to be good and you see the progress."
McGee smiled when told of Petrino's comments about trying to fluster the quarterbacks.
"Listen, Coach Petrino and I have been together for a long time," he said. "We absolutely understand each other. We have good chemistry. There are times that coach is on 'em pretty hard and I come behind him and lift them up. Then there are times that he knows that I'm on them and he goes the other direction."
Along those lines, Petrino said he's worked to make the practice atmosphere intense, with plenty of criticism.
"I want to make (the quarterbacks) uncomfortable," Petrino said. "The philosophy is that when we get to the games, the head coach is on the sideline and the players can relax and play."
Mitchell said he understands the goal.
"When you drop back to throw it and you are at LSU or Alabama and there are 100,000 people screaming at you, that should be easy," Mitchell said. "You've already been in a hostile situation in Coach Petrino's practice. He's getting us ready for that.
"It's coaching, not criticism. You have to understand the difference."
It's more than verbal heat. The defense has put pressure on the quarterbacks, too. Petrino said there's been a healthy balance between blitzes and looks that feature zones for those types of quarterback reads.
"We've tried not to blitz them at times," he said. "At other times, we've come after the quarterback to see how they are going to handle it.
"But overall, our philosophy is to stay in our base and get pressure with our four defensive linemen. We are a lot closer to being able to do that. We've got those defensive ends."
Tenarius "Tank" Wright and Jake Bequette both got to the quarterback at several points, although Petrino usually does not call sacks so that the plays can develop to look at downfield action, too. Wright has been a terror most of the spring.
"Tank really has had a good week," Petrino said. "He has improved his ability to rush the passer. He's learned a lot as far as his rush technique. He understands what it means to counter."
Both Wright and Bequette have improved their spin moves inside to go with a speed outside rush. Petrino said it's a great situation for breaking in offensive tackles.
"We've got four guys fighting for the (two jobs)," Petrino said. "They have improved. We'll go into the fall with those four and keep working them. They are going against real experienced defensive ends. They'll have to keep learning their technique and learn to trust it.
"There are times that when you are going against a guy like Bequette where it is happening really fast, they are just trying to survive. When they rely on their technique, they find out it wins."
The offensive line isn't winning every play. Petrino said the running game doesn't always look pretty. It reminds him of last year when the Hogs didn't run the ball well early.
"I've seen strides, but we still have a long way to go in the run game," he said. "We are not where we want to be. We said that last year. We want to do a better job of getting there quicker this year."
Knile Davis led the rushers with 67 yards, but needed 21 carries to get there. Davis had two catches for 44 yards. He did have a short touchdown plunge. Dennis Johnson had 16 tries for 66 yards and three TDs and added three catches for 60 yards. Ronnie Wingo made 20 yards on 11 carries and added 62 yards on three catches. Broderick Green had only 5 yards on his nine carries, losing yards on some short yardage tries when there was no blocking.
Petrino liked what he saw from Johnson, recovering from surgery early last season. It was his best day.
"Wingo keeps impressing me," Petrino said. "He's learned a lot, especially how to take his speed to the field. That's what Knile Davis did last year.
"I like what Dennis did today. He was hard to tackle. He showed some of what he's done in the past. I think he's struggled this spring. It's hard to come back from the type of surgery he had, but he looked good today.
"Knile Davis keeps pushing hard. With an inexperienced line and quarterbacks who may not always get us out of bad plays, there are times that it might be tougher to get those running yards. He's seen that. But he's kept fighting."
Petrino praised cornerback Greg Gatson. He opened with the first team at field cornerback with Isaac Madison still on the mend and Darius Winston apparently in the academic doghouse. Madison did not practice. Winston logged only a few snaps.
Gatson and Rasner led the tackle charts with 10 each. Eric Bennett had eight. Jerry Mitchell and Jarrett lake had seven. Tramain Thomas, Jerrico Nelson and Michael Villegas were at six.
"I think our corners had a good week," Petrino said. "Gatson has stepped up. He's been around here a long time. He's one of our fastest players and has a very good vertical jump. Now, he's learned to trust his technique.
"I thought Jerry Mitchell and De'Anthony Curtis have made huge strides at the boundary side. Both are tackling well. We tried to go after them today. We wanted to challenge them. They held up pretty well."
Petrino liked what he saw from his receivers. Marquel Wade (10 catches, 80 yards), Julian Horton (9 catches, 92 yards) and Maudrecus Humprey (7 catches, 69 yards)had solid days. Chris Gragg and Garrett Uekman both had three catches for 43 yards to lead the tight ends.
Ones vs. Ones, Tyler Wilson at QB: 11 plays, 80-yard TD drive. One of the big plays was when Tyler stepped away from the pocket and hit Joe adams for 14 yards. No third downs in the drive.
Twos vs. twos, Brandon Mitchell at QB: Mitchell intercepted over the middle by Ryan Farr when he didn't see the safety.
Twos vs. twos, Mitchell at QB: Ten play drive, all the way to the 10-yard line. On second and 5, Mitchell tried for Horton in the flats. It went off his hands, to Elton Ford, who dashed the distance for TD return.
Ones vs. ones, Wilson at QB: One first down, Wilson to Jarius Wright for 9 yards. On third and 8, Tyler was incomplete. Cobi Hamilton dropped it.
Ones vs. ones, Wilson at QB: Three and out. Tyler's screen to Adams was -2 on third-and 7.
Twos vs. twos, Mitchell at QB: Three first downs, two nice plays by Dennis Johnson. Mitchell was incomplete on third and 9 when Gragg had a good shot at it. Mitchell was incomplete on fourth-and-9, too.
Threes vs. threes, Jacoby Walker at QB: Three and out.
Threes vs. threes, Walker at QB: 13-play, 70-yard TD drive. Walker hit Horton three times, and the final 15 yards was on a slant to Price Holmes.
Ones vs. ones, Wilson at QB: Two first downs, drive ended on deep pass intercepted by Tramain Thomas.
Ones vs. ones, Wilson at QB: Four first downs, drive ended at the 16-yard line when Wilson and Knile Davis botched a handoff on first-and-10. Rasner recovered.
Ones vs. ones, Mitchell at QB: 6 plays, 65-yard TD march. Mitchell hit Joe Adams on a 35-yard TD pass. Eric Bennett had tight coverage, but Joe snatched it over him. Bequette had a sack in that possession.
Twos vs. twos, Wilson at QB: 10-play, 65-yard TD march. Dennis Johnson scored from the 2. Tyler hit Horton on two passes, Wade and Humphrey, too.
Fours vs. fours, Brian Buehner at QB: This was a 11-play, 65-yard TD march featuring tight ends. Tate had two catches and Uekman the final catch, a 19-yard TD.
Ones vs. ones, Wilson at QB: Three-play, 65-yard TD march. Tyler hit Gragg for 25 and Wingo for the final 37, and there was a fumbled shotgun snap in between that lost 7.
Twos vs. twos, Wilson at QB: There was one first down. Wilson was incomplete on fourth and 4 from the 31 when Gatson got a pass break up.
Ones vs. ones, Mitchell at QB: This was the now highlight defensive possession with seven straight failed fourth-and-1s. Mitchell hit Wingo for 13 for a first down early in the possession.
Ones vs. twos, Wilson at QB: This was four and out, with a failed fourth-and-2 when Mitchell broke up a pass.
Ones vs. twos, Wilson at QB: There were two first downs, but Curtis broke up a pass on fourth-and-3.
Twos vs. One defense, Mitchell at QB: Five play, 55-yard drive. Dennis Johnson scored from the 2-yard line and also had a 37-yard reception.
Ones vs. ones, Mitchell at QB: This ended in a Hocker 47-yard field goal. Mitchell was 4 of 6 on the drive with Humphrey catching three passes.
Ones vs. ones, Wilson at QB: three plays, 55 yard TD. Wilson hit Adams for the final 59 yards.
Ones vs. ones, Wilson at QB: Two first downs, but Davis lost 6 (Tank Wright) on fourth-and-1.
Ones vs. ones, Wilson at QB: Five plays, 55 TD drive. Cobi Hamilton caught a 31 yard pass, Dennis Johnson got the final 6 yards on a pass from Wilson.
Threes vs. threes, Walker at QB: 8 plays, 55 yaqrd TD drive. It was Walker to Herndon for the final 20 yards.
Fours vs. fours, Buehner at QB: 7 plays, 60 yard TD drive. Walker was 6 of 6 with Humphrey catching a 22-yarder to end it.
It was overtime at this point. Petrino split it up, one offense against second defense. Two offense against one defense. Defense didn't allow a first down in the first two possessions. Hocker missed from 42 and then made from 42. In the second overtime, Wilson led the ones to a score after a pass interference penalty gave them a first down. Davis made 8 and 4 to punch it in. Mitchell, with the twos against the ones, could not score. On fourth and 11, he took off on a scramble but the play was ruled dead after about a 6-yard gain.