State of the Hogs: Performance
Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino dropped some core beliefs on a packed house at the LIttle Rock Razorback Club's kickoff meeting Monday at the Embassy Suites.
There was some heavy philosophical topics, like a line delivered from his father that explained the difference between potential and performance. It included an unprintable word that is sometimes used for butt. The crowd got it. Petrino said most everyone in Montana gets it, too, and traces the saying back to his father, the former coach at Carroll College.
And there was also a reference to his mother when Petrino took questions about the state of the Razorback running game -- minus Knile Davis and some graduated blockers -- as the season opener approaches Saturday against Missouri State.
"I'm going to run it on every down," Petrino said.
As the crowd began to chuckle, he added, "That's what you want, right? My mom will kick me out of the family if I do that. She likes to see passes."
Petrino acknowledged that "it takes all 11 on offense" to form an effective running unit and that the Hogs still have work to do. But he likes the tools in the box. He likes the running backs, the line and thinks the Hogs will figure out the running game, just as they did last year.
The running backs are ahead of where they were at this time last year in some respects. He said the example Davis gave them on how to hit their tracks and get to top speed has helped this bunch of backs do just that.
"We are improved on hitting our tracks and getting to our speed," he said. "We are ahead of where we were last year."
And, he finished with a promise. He said he doesn't want anything but heavy runners and vows to put that kind of backs on the field or else.
"Some guys think they can glide and never get to where they need to be," he said. "We get rid of gliders."
Petrino likes what he's seen of De'Anthony Curtis at running back. The senior from Camden has made the migration from running back, to wide receiver, to defensive back and back to the offensive backfield.
"De'Anthony was to the point in the secondary this camp that he was in the rotation, but we needed him at running back," Petrino said. "He looked good in our last two scrimmages. He ran hard inside. He looked quick and he hugged close to his blockers and looked good. He's going to help us."
Petrino also praised new fullback Kiero Small, a junior college transfer with Maryland roots.
"When we went to his home visit he showed us tape of him as a running back," Petrino said. "He told us he led the state of Maryland in rushing as a senior. You are going to see a good fullback. I'm real excited about him. He's going to help us a lot, particularly early."
Petrino praised the leadership of junior quarterback Tyler Wilson. The coach said one of his core beliefs is that "leadership is demonstrated, never announced" and that Wilson has done just that.
"He did it last winter, in the spring and in the summer and in fall camp," Petrino said. "I'm proud of Tyler."
Petrino called his team "fast" and knows they understand the road to success. It's a grind.
"I believe that dreaming is free, but the journey is not," he said. "The journey takes grinding. I guarantee we will grind on a daily basis."
And the Hogs have a goal to out hit the opposition.
"The team that gets hit the hardest becomes the nail," he said. "If you beat the body, the mind will follow.
"Last year in Little Rock, that last drive against LSU we started on our 9-yard line and called a play-action pass to D. J. Williams. Then, we ran it eight straight times. Finally, the mind quit and we won the game."
One of his favorite sayings popped out in the LSU media briefings afterwards.
"If you were around John L. Smith, me and my little brother through the years, you'd hear us say when we went into a new stadium, we didn't come to paint," Petrino said. "We've been using that for a long time. I got a call from Paul this summer and he asked if he was going to get any royalties for that. I guess he should."
Petrino knows some of that centers on attitude.
"I think attitude is a key ingredient to do something special," he said. "Attitude is muscle and you have to put forth effort or it will atrophy. It's as much a culture as anything. It's body language."
The body language was obvious to him as the Hogs started overtime last year at Mississippi State.
"We talk about what your body language is about in the fourth quarter," he said. "Last year before the overtime at Mississippi State our players got together in a huddle and talked about toughness. Those guys on the other sideline were dancing. There is a difference."
Yes, it's about performance, attitude and not potential. Petrino delivered a solid performance at the LR TD Club and no one was surprised. It's not about potential.
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