Monday Grid Update, 9/19

Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino and his 12th-ranked Razorbacks look back at their win over Troy and ahead to Saturday's SEC showdown with No. 2 Alabama.

Arkansas has high expectations, but there is also no need to over-react to Saturday night's closer-than- expected win over Troy.

That's according to Razorback head coach Bobby Petrino, whose team was favored by 24 and won 38-28 when the Trojans scored a touchdown in the final minute of play.

"We're all right guys," Petrino said. "We scored 38 points, you know. We had a good win. We threw the ball for a very good percentage for a lot of people in the world. We're all right. We're doing OK. Our standards are high. We're going to push them hard to work for perfection."

Petrino noted there was a combination of things that kept his team from piling on after grabbing leads of 24-0 in the first half and 31-7 on its first possession of the second half.

One of those was likely looking ahead to this week's game with Alabama.

"We're 3-0," Petrino said. "That's where we wanted to be going into the Alabama game. When you watch the video from the game the other night, it's kind of two different games for us, particularly on offense where you get the ball, you're going at a real fast pace, we're moving it, scoring touchdowns, everybody's making plays.

"Even coming out of halftime we did a nice job on the first drive, then we just stuttered, had some mistakes happen," Petrino added. "We didn't move the ball like we wanted to. [We are] fortunate Joe Adams made a tremendous play there in the fourth quarter and we end up getting a good win."

Senior safety Tramain Thomas admits that his team had a letdown mentally against Troy.

"It was very eye-opening," Thomas said. "We didn't come out and perform like we want to perform. We know that and we can't control that. All we can control is this week's game and that's what we are focusing on this week."

Troy was certainly a step up from Missouri State and New Mexico, which the Razorbacks dominated to the tune of 103-10.

"It was a good win for us," Petrino re-iterated. "It was much better competition, much harder fought which will help us here in the long run. It's something we needed to go through. We need to go through when things aren't going all the time how you react to it and how you get better from it."

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Arkansas offensive coordinator Garrick McGee, whose wife had a baby last week, was not available for interviews after the game because of an illness. That gave Petrino a chance to crack a joke.

"He's still feeling a little bit under the weather," Petrino said. "But it's a situation where it wasn't the game that made him sick, OK guys? He was sick in the first quarter. I look at him in the first quarter and say, 'Are you all right?' He said, 'No, not really.' It was just a situation where after the game he needed to get home."

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Arkansas tailback Ronnie Wingo had career highs of 20 carries and 109 yards rushing while also catching three passes for 20 yards and scoring three times on Saturday.

"I feel good," Wingo said. "It really started last year in the spring, just getting better at the position. Then, with the first two games, it was just doing little things, going into the meeting rooms and learning each week and then this week just putting it all together and I feel like we have to do the same thing this weekend."

Wingo was quick to point out the blocking of his offensive line and 5-11, 255-pound fullback Kiero Small.

"I got some good blocks from the offensive line," Wingo said. "They are starting to get better every week, so that's a good plus for us. Kiero (Small), he's just a mean guy and is just like a bowling ball and hits anything he sees."

Petrino liked what he saw from Wingo.

"Yeah, I thought he had a good game," Petrino said. "He hit the holes harder. He broke tackles. He did a good job in open space. I was happy with the way he played. He had three touchdowns. That says enough."

Wingo knows that he will face one of the nation's best defenses in the country this week with several guys likely to play in the NFL.

"I think they have a great defense and have great players," Wingo said. "A lot of those guys will be playing on Sundays in a year or two. We just have to go out and execute and then when we practice, we have to believe in what Coach Petrino is going to call. I believe that's going to work."

Dennis Johnson was healthy enough to play his first game in over a year and had 4 carries for 20 yards in addition to 2 kickoff returns totaling 54 yards.

"It's good having him back," Wingo said. "Just having him on the field means more to us. We feel like we're all together. He's going to help us out this weekend. He's just getting his feet wet because he hasn't played in so long. So I feel this Saturday, he should have a good game."

While noting that Arkansas should have increased intensity this week, Wingo also noted that the Razorbacks can't go into Tuscaloosa on too high of a note.

"There's a lot of energy and intensity, but we also have to be level headed," Wingo said. "We can't have too much energy and make stupid mistakes in practice. We just have to be level headed and carry that over into the game."

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Wingo also noted that Tyler Wilson has now proven he has courage to his team and now he needs to prove he can stay healthy by sliding instead of diving and taking hits.

"He's taking too many hits right now," Wingo said. "We tell him a lot to slide and everything. We told him we know he's tough, but he's always wanting to show his toughness to the team. He has shown us enough and get on the ground and slide and everything. But we've just got to protect him. Protect him more this week. Especially this week. Now it's time for real ball."

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Alabama has a talented tailback in Trent Richardson, who made several big plays two years ago against the Razorbacks in Tuscaloosa.

"He (Richardson) is a good back," Thomas said. "He's got power and speed. So we have to gang tackle. We are going to have to be gap assigned and everybody has to know where their fits are."

Thomas noted that Arkansas' defenders can't get caught up in play-action.

"I definitely think our safeties and linebackers have to play with their eyes," Thomas said. "We are going to have to be great at our assignments and know where we are supposed to be at all times and not let them have big plays and cheap yardage."

AJ McCarron has solidified his hold on the starting quarterback job with his play in the first three games while regulating Phillip Sims to a back-up role.

"I think he's a good football player," Petrino said. "There's no question about it. When you go all the way back to the spring game and watch how he executed in the spring game, he's very, very capable of making all the throws and everything they ask him to do. You know, it's new to him. He keeps getting better each game."

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Thomas was quick to point out that just because Alabama lost Julio Jones to the NFL doesn't mean it doesn't have a passing game.

"They have got a great receiving corps out there," Thomas said. "They have got a lot of guys that can make plays. We just have got to come out there and play all those guys honest. I don't think their quarterback has just one guy he likes throwing to. He throws to all of them. So we have got to be good with all those guys."

Petrino echoed that sentiment while noting that his secondary has to make better plays with the ball in the air.

"They're very good," Petrino said. "They're fast and they can make plays after the catch. They're going to come out and try to threaten us deep, there's no question about that. We've got to play the ball. We're in position. We've got to play the ball in the air. Carry it over from the drill work we do in practice into the game."

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Arkansas' game with Texas A&M on Oct. 1 will be at either 11 a.m. and televised by ESPN or will be part of a CBS national doubleheader at either 2:30 p.m. or 7 p.m.

That will be decided next Sunday as CBS exercised it's six-day window instead of picking the game two weeks ahead of time.

The other games that will be worked into those time slots are Alabama at Florida and Auburn at South Carolina.


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