"We still have a ways to go," Petrino said in regards to determining this team's identity. "It's about finding out what part of the playbook they can really execute. It changes from year to year.
"Sometimes you do some aspects better. Some years it might be the dropback game. Or it might be the play-action or how they handle the protections.
"You teach them the playbook three times, then our job as coaches is to mold what they do best around the quarterback. Then, sometimes your ID changes as the season goes along. Last year, it changed in the last six games. We ran the offense through Knile Davis. We became more balanced. It's an ongoing process."
Petrino said wide receiver Greg Childs was better Friday after struggling a bit in the opening day's workout. He's returning from season-ending knee surgery a year ago. Petrino said he was going to check into what was going on with Childs after his media briefing Thursday night.
"He did better," Petrino said about Friday's practice. "I asked (trainer) Matt Summers more than once about Greg, more than twice and maybe more than three times.
"Matt assured me Greg is good to go. He said that first practice just came down to a little fatigue. He said that comes after you've had an injury. You are ready to go, but you probably don't have the conditioning the other players have to make it through a practice like that. He did look better the second day coming into and out of his cuts."
Fans can check out Childs for themselves. Practices are open. Workouts resume at 3 p.m. Saturday with the newcomers. Veterans hit the field at 6:30 p.m. -- although if you don't want to take a chance on them starting early as is the case since they are on Bobby Petrino time, then come early. Both workouts started early Friday.
Linebacker coach Reggie Johnson said both Alonzo Highsmith and Robert Atiga are just what he wants at linebackers. They have the linebacker instincts this team needs.
Johnson said both have played in similar roles that he wants to use them in with this team. Highsmith has a high football IQ, as does Atiga. Both are learning new verbage for some of the same things they have done before and picking it up fast. Highsmith has a three-month headstart on Atiga. He said both will play a lot this season.
Defensive tackle Robert Thomas, one of the highly regarded newcomers, left practice early Friday. Many thought it was because he over heated a little. That may be true, but it was more mental than phsyical.
Apparently, Thomas got a little rough and perhaps let his temper flare in one drill and the coaches excused him. That's not exactly the way it was explained to a writer Friday, but that's how it's understood now. Jake Bequette said he's been there before and tried to coach him a little as he was heading for the exit.
Bequette said, "It's hot and tempers can rise up. Everyone is a brother out there but you can lose it sometimes. I've done it. Coach (Bobby Petrino) wants it a certain way. I've had my problems before. Robert is alright."
Defensive tackle coach Bobby Allen said Saturday everything is fine. Robert Thomas said he's over that and is ready to go Saturday. Everyone praised Thomas, including the head coach and assistants. But the best came from Travis Swanson. Here is his thought:
"Robert Thomas has the speed of Alabama's Marcell Dareus and the speed of Auburn's Nick Fairley," Swanson said. "He's got all of their attributes into one player. He'll be a special player for us."
Told that, Thomas said, "Swanson is as good as any I've played against. He's right at the top. He's a guy -- along with Alvin Bailey -- that I get to go against who is making me what I am. They get after me pretty good, but they also take care of me, too. They are good teammates."
Bequette added some personal training in the summer to go with everything Jason Veltkamp's program provided. He did two months of yoga classes.
"I know, I know," Bequette said when a reporter raised eyebrows. "But don't knock it until you've tried it. I did research and a lot of guys (in the NFL) have used it to help their flexibility in the offseason. So I tried it. It was terrible at first, but I found that my hamstrings and hips gained a lot of flexibility. I think it was awesome and it helped me in a big way. Trust me. It's good."
Offensive line coach Chris Klenakis said he didn't mind the pressure of having to rebuild an offensive line that lost three regulars with lots of SEC starts in DeMarcus Love, Ray Dominguez and Wade Grayson.
"I've had to replace players before," he said. "I've had this situation where you lose two, three or more starters. I've been in this exact place.
"How you do that is to go to work with what you have. You get them ready every single day. You work hard and prepare them in every meeting and every practice. You coach 'em up."
How did those years turn out?
"Really well," he said. "We've been able to do it."
Klenakis didn't like it when a reporter suggested that perhaps the offense would have to be scaled back because they are replacing starters up front.
"That's not what we do," he said. "We run our offense. We are going to run our offense. We aren't going to have to do that."
Swanson said, "We are going to work and work and we will get better. We know that when we get to the end of camp we will have a good offensive line. We aren't going to hold anyone back."
Concerning the O-line, Petrino said it's just "a process, no doubt. We feel good about the guys we have inside with Travis Swanson, Alvin Bailey and Grant Cook. Our guards, Bailey and Cook, are good leaders. Bailey is big and physical. We have exactly what you want at all of our positions in the line."
There's been rotation between Brey Cook at both tackle and guard. Could he play both?
"We could, but what we want to do right now is be patient and look at a lot of combos," Petrino said. "We just want to work to get better. It will work itself out."
Petrino said one thing is obvious after two workouts. The defense is improved.
"I really like the front seven," he said. "We are bigger, more athletic. We have a couple of safeties who have played four years. We have corners with experience. And we have young guys competing for time.
There were plenty of questions about the quarterback battle between Tyler Wilson and Brandon Mitchell. Petrino said it's good Wilson was elected captain, but it didn't change the competition.
"I think we sent that message last night to our team, that it's a competition," Petrino said. "It's just like our defensive depth. We look at the film and check for attitude on defense. We know the quarterback is like all the rest of the positions.
"I think our players do respect the attitude and leadership that (Wilson) displayed in the offseason."
Petrino said it's good to see leadership in the senior class. He said he talked to the seniors in recent days about their job.
"I told them they are the ones who helped get us this new facility that is being built," he said. "I told them, 'Now, let's go finish it and grind harder."
Wilson is not surprised. It's exactly how he thought the battle would be handled.
"I don't see anything changed in the last week (since the vote for captains)," he said. "I wouldn't think we will hear the starter named until about one week before the first game. That's what I expected and that's how it will be handled."
Petrino continues to maintain a disdain for public depth charts.
"You know how I am," he said. "I don't like them. You have to give your opponent one on the Monday before the first game. Sometimes they are accurate. Sometimes they aren't."
The defensive front has caught his eye in the early part of camp.
"That's a good looking group inside, Byran Jones and Robert Thomas," he said. "Together they look pretty good. They can play the run and rush the passer. That's what you want there. Byran has shown that he understands how to play technique. He's taken a step further since last year."
Petrino praised the mental and physical skills he's seen from fullback Kiero Small, a junior college transfer trying to replace Van Stumon.
"We are excited about what he's done," Petrino said. "He's very strong and he's worked hard. We've found out he can add some toughness to our team. He can open holes and he can catch the ball. He also can be a short yardage runner."
Petrino said research found some tape of his high school days when he was one of Maryland's leading rushers.
"We found tape of him," he said. "He was mainly a linebacker in junior college, but he was a good runner in high school.
"I like lead blockers in our offense. It helps attack the zone blitz. There was a time if you looked at our offenses, we were in a lot of one back. But then Dom Capers introduced the zone blitz and you need a blocker to go after that."
Petrino was asked if solid offensive line play held the key to the season.
"It's on all of us -- offensive line, quarterbacks calling checks and running to the right spots," he said. "I've watched Knile Davis get to his speed faster. He's worked hard this summer. I can't imagine he won't have a good year."
Petrino likes what he sees from both quarterbacks, Wilson and Mitchell.
"Tyler is very accurate," Petrino said. "He can make all of the throws. He adds something that we didn't have, the ability to move around. He's unique in that he has different release points.
"Brandon has worked really hard on his passing mechanics. He's become more accurate. I told him he had to prove that on third and six, he can complete it when the tight end is barely open and he has to hit his left ear for a first down or his right ear. He's a great runner and gives us an added advantage."
Could both play?
"I've done that before," Petrino said.
Offensive coordinator Garrick McGee touched on the competition. He said both have done well and he'll continue to chart them.
"We definitely throw a lot at them," McGee said. "It's a lot. It's a lot we give them on offense and it's a lot what our defense throws at them on a daily basis.
"Practice is important, but meetings are just as important. It's our coaches job to teach it and for them to absorb it and then to produce on the field. They have to take it to the field.
"That's how we are able to carry a lot of offense. We take pride that we can do that. We tell them in recruiting that we are going to carry a lot. To do that, we have to get as many reps as possible.
"How much we are able to do in games depends on how good we are in the installation process. That's where we are right now.
"We've given them a lot the last two days and we are going to put a lot more on them today. We are putting in some of our favorite plays today."
McGee took on the same question as Petrino a few hours earlier when the identity theme came up.
"Our identity?" he said. "A lot of it comes down to how good the quarterbacks can be at handling protections. Can our quarterbacks get us in the right calls to protect for our favorite plays?"
Will can they?
"Our quarterbacks are not going to handcuff us," McGee said. "We already know that some things they can do better than Ryan Mallett. We are going to be in the same structure and do some of the same things."
Don't expect to see a different offense.
"No, you will see us running our stuff like last year," he said. "I think you'll see us add to it. You are going to see the quarterbacks do more. They'll run the ball down the field. We couldn't do that and it's a big part of what our offense is about."
So the identity might be slightly different, but it will be a good thing. Not something bad.
Practice Update for Saturday, 8/6
The Hogs worked twice on Saturday, with the veterans taking the field first. Bobby Petrino, with heat soaring to 106, gave the veterans two cool-down periods after several players were hit with cramps in Friday's workouts.
Middle linebacker Jerry Franklin, one of the team captains, did not practice in either workout. Robert Atiga, junior college linebacker, was moved up to the varsity work in Franklin's absence. Franklin was able to handle interviews during media day duties early Saturday.
The veterans were especially sharp on offense with both quarterbacks throwing well. In the evening workout, freshman Kelvin Fisher, coveted on both sides of the ball because of his speed and quickness, worked at both cornerback and wide receiver. He did have an interception during the team segment when a Brandon Allen pass was tipped.
Bobby Petrino laughs after a hearing a media question Saturday morning.
The team picture was taken early Saturday.
Cobi Hamilton fields questions from a reporter.
Travis Swanson bakes under the sun and TV cameras.
Cobi Hamilton, Joe Adams and Jarius Wright wait for a camera session.
Photos by Marc F. Henning, Hawgs Illustrated