Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino said about the only thing that went wrong was the ice cream truck that patrolled the neighborhoods while he was conducting interviews in the tennis center after practice.
"Anybody want any ice cream," Petrino deadpanned.
Petrino and the Razorbacks got a break Thursday when record heat over the last week broke for at least one day. Temperatures were in the high 80s when the newcomers hit the field at 3 p.m. They had climbed to around 92 by the end of that workout, but had dropped back into the high 80s by the time the varsity finished its 90-minute workout at 8 p.m.
"We had a good first day, but that first practice seemed like a long time ago," Petrino said. "It was good to see the freshman and some of the sophomores we mixed in. We got a lot accomplished. Our newcomers learned how to practice. You could tell a difference between them and some of those who were with them who had been out there before. They learned the volume, tempo and speed we work at -- it was good.
Petrino thought the intramural fields worked great. He said they allowed the Hogs to do more deep passing drills which probably would not have worked on the small amount of grass fields they had north of Walker Pavilion. Plus, he doesn't like working on those sloped (from north to south) practice fields. There was plenty of room.
"We looked at doing this all summer," he said. "Our staff did a great job of getting this ready. It's going to really help us for the next week and a half."
In one of the few things of concern, wide receiver Greg Childs did not seem to be full speed. Petrino thought he "struggled" in certain drills. He didn't think he was full speed coming out of breaks and thought he de-accelerated at times. Childs said it was just a question of getting back in the grind of practice. He said in a week and a half, "You won't remember that I was ever gone. I'm fine. I just need to practice and go through everything again."
Petrino said he wanted to talk to Childs to find out if there were any problems. Told of the concern from the head coach and a coming visit, Childs smiled, "I'm sure he's around here real close somewhere and he's going to want to talk to me. But I'm going to be fine. I hadn't done some of these things. I'm straight. I promise."
Petrino thought there were too many dropped passes. He said that's probably just a timing thing and will get better. He said it was a combination of not being accurate with throws, tight coverage and then the receivers not doing well enough.
In an overall assessment, the head coach said the defense is ahead of the offense right now and did a better job in its execution. He said that's a matter of experience. He said it's a veteran, talented defense.
"I thought the defense had more intensity than the offense," Petrino said. "They executed well. Our offense has a long ways to go. We have to make sure we find the right group in the offensive line. I was impressed with our running backs. They got to their speed fast and that was in the early drills and in team."
There did not appear to be any injuries.
There were some interesting developments regarding position battles. There had been no depth chart released after the spring, but some things are apparent after one practice. Here's the way some positions look:
First offensive line: ST Grant Freeman, SG Alvin Bailey, C Travis Swanson, WG Grant Cook or Brey Cook, WT Jason Peacock or Brey Cook. They are working Cook at both guard and tackle. I thought Peacock and Cook were with the first unit more than Brey Cook.
"We found out in the spring that Brey could play inside," Petrino said. "We watched all the video and we liked his strength when he was inside. We've got some time to find out our first five. It's a talented group and it's going against a good defensive front."
Here's the way the first defensive unit looked: DE Jake Bequette, DT Robert Thomas, NT Byran Jones, DE Tenarius Wright, OLB Jerico Nelson, MLB Jerry Franklin, OLB Alonzo Highsmith, FCB Isaac Madison, BCB Darius Winston, SS Elton Ford, FS Tramain Thomas.
Highsmith, a junior college transfer, got the nod with the first team because Petrino said no one had claimed the position in the spring.
"He's got ability and he is a hard worker," Petrino said. "We thought he gives us the best chance at that position. Plus, others had an opportunity to win the job in the spring and no one took it. We wanted to get him in there and give him a chance."
Petrino said it made sense to put Madison at field corner and Winston at boundary after looking at the way the boundary corners practiced in the spring after a thorough video evaluation.
"The two at the boundary didn't grade out as well as the two at the field," he said. "Isaac and Darius graded higher. Darius played boundary last year. Both Isaac and Darius had good summers."
Free safety Tramain Thomas, the leader of the secondary, thought both Winston and Madison had good performances Thursday.
"They know the coverages and they had good days," Thomas said. "I think both of them executed very well."
Tyler Wilson, who worked with the ones at quarterback, praised the secondary.
"There was a lot of man today and it was good coverage," he said. "We weren't clicking the way we wanted. We were excited in the locker room and I thought it was going to be a special day, but we got out here and had some errors. I had some checks to things when they were in man that I would do different. I checked into something, they moved and I checked again. Those are things we will get fixed. We will have better days, but that's a good defense."
Freeman, who worked at strong tackle, said he's comfortable on either side. He is ready to play the weak side, too.
"It makes no difference to me, so I'll be ready if they want me to move there," he said. "But I do like strong a lot. I came in as a tight end. So I like working besides those guys. I have a lot of respect for the ability of these tight ends so it's fun to be beside them at strong tackle."
The debate about this season centers around the void in experience at offensive tackle. Freeman said it's not something the players discuss.
"We are focused on just doing our individual jobs," he said. "We have our own things we worry about each day, just getting better and understanding what is expected on the field. I don't know about the talk that is around outside of our team. We just come out here to battle each day and get better no matter what anyone might say.
"It's an exciting time for me. I was looking forward to how I would hold up today. I thought we did fine. Yes, there were some things we need to improve and we'll keep working.
"Like I said, strong tackle is fine with me. I worked there last year behind Ray Dominguez and he was a very good teacher for me. I feel like I'm ready.
"Overall, it went good. We just have to shake a little rust off and we will be there.
"It's better for offensive linemen when we get the pads on and we look forward to that.
"This is going to be fun because we have a lot of talented guys in our offensive line. You see guys like Chris Stringer come in and he's real talented. We feel comfortable with all of these guys and they are all good."
Bobby Petrino leads the newcomers onto the field Thursday.
Garrett Uekman anchors one side of the blocking sled.
Brock Haman worked at linebacker.
Grady Ollison (50) works along with Jeremiah Jackson (96) and Will Coleman (94)
Brandon Allen prepares for a snap.
Horace Arkadie (95) goes through some agility work.
Photos by Marc F. Henning, Hawgs Illustrated