"I like having fans at practice," Petrino said when he addressed the media after a Walker Pavilion practice Friday night. "I think it's good for our players. But when that happens like it did last night -- and there were some people in this room who broke the policy -- then I'll have to decide if what we are doing is best for (our team)."
Petrino confirmed that Knile Davis had surgery Thursday night for a broken bone near the ankle. The junior running back will miss the 2011 season.
"We will miss him. But we have to find a way to cover for his production. We do have proven depth with players who have done well in the SEC. We'll have to act like we did last year when we lost Greg Childs, Ramon Broadway and Joe Adams. We rallied as a team then and we have to do that again today."
The Hogs began the process of closing ranks Friday with the move of true freshman Kelvin Fisher from cornerback to running back. Petrino said the tough part of that move is that Fisher performed well as a corner "with great cover skills" in Thursday's scrimmage. Fisher switched to No. 22 after wearing No. 4 in earlier practices. Jarius Wright already wears No. 4 on the offensive side.
"We recruited him off of his running back tape," Petrino said. "We looked at him one day at wide receiver and running back and we liked it then. We talked about moving (former running back) De'Anthony Curtis (from corner), but he played well in the scrimmage, too, at cornerback. We could still do that, but we are going to leave (Curtis) in the cornerback meeting room and will have (Fisher) in the running back room."
True freshman running back Kody Walker also drew praise from Petrino. He said Walker has picked up the position in a hurry.
"He's been real impressive," Petrino said. "He knows this and I know it, he has to run with his pads lower, but the number one thing he's done is he has picked up the offense quickly. He is not having assignment errors. When we call a play, I look at his eyes in the huddle and he knows it."
Petrino "liked the way the players practiced" Thursday. Thunderstorms throughout the afternoon forced the team from their planned practice at the intramural fields into Walker Pavilion. It was another sharp day for quarterback Tyler Wilson. The junior from Greenwood drew praise for his performance in Thursday's scrimmage.
"Our first defense did a nice job and was hard to run against, but Tyler did a nice job of finding some matchups," Petrino said. "I was very encouraged by his performance. I think our receiver group showed a lot of energy and Tyler took advantage of that."
The offensive line drew some praise, particularly offensive tackles Grant Freeman and Jason Peacock for their pass protection sets. The line was closer to full strength Friday with the return on a part-time basis for offensive guard Grant Cook.
"He did some things with us today," Petrino said. "I think he's a quick healer. He's had ankle trouble before and come back from it quickly."
Offensive line coach Chris Klenakis looked at some different combinations up front with David Hurd getting snaps with the first offensive line at weak guard. Brey Cook worked with the second unit at guard and tackle.
"Don't read too much into that," Petrino said. "I thought Brey had a good scrimmage especially with his pass protection. He can do better in the running game. We wanted to just get a look at some other combinations and you shouldn't think too much into it."
Petrino was asked if there was enough depth now at running back to use Dennis Johnson as a kick returner. Johnson and Wingo were the two deep men when the Hogs worked on the return game in an extended period on special teams Friday.
"That's the first I've thought about it," Petrino said. "Maybe we have to consider that. It's not a bad idea. But he's really capable of making big plays as a kick returner."
There were some different looks in the secondary where Eric Bennett took the first team snaps at first team strong safety. There were also some combinations that included Tramain Thomas, Elton Ford and Bennett on the field at the same time. Alan Turner grabbed a pair of interceptions working at safety with the second unit. Darrell Smith and Daunte Carr also logged time at safety.
Petrino praised the work of true freshmen defensive ends Trey Flowers and Horace Arkadie. He said they still have things to learn before a redshirt is decided, but they are part of an extremely talented group of ends.
The Hogs will launch two-a-days Saturday, starting with the first practice at 9 a.m.