"I want to see what we are made of," Petrino said. "I like the way they worked this week. This was our hardest, most physical week.
"We were not as consistent as we need to be, but we are going to keep working and keep grinding. That's both sides of the ball and on special teams. We are going to keep working to get it all perfected.
"We may not be where I'd like to be in all areas, but I saw the leadership within the team come forward this week."
Petrino was asked about improvements in the passing game, specifically in regards to quarterback Tyler Wilson getting the ball out of his hands quickly against the A&M blitz.
"It will take a combination of everything," he said. "The receivers have to make their breaks on time and be more precise. The offensive line has to finish blocks and provide passing lanes for the quarterback. Obviously, Tyler has to get the ball out of his hand on time. We have to improve the timing in all areas."
The Hogs were without both starting defensive ends for most of last week. Jake Bequette has missed two weeks with a hamstring injury. Tenarius Wright is done for four to six weeks after sustaining a broken bone in his forearm early in the Alabama game. Bequette might return this week.
"With Jake, it will be a game time decision," Petrino said. "He did get some work in this week. He did more today. We'll see how he is tomorrow. That will be huge. The doctors will tell me on Saturday. I'm encouraged that at least there is a decision to be made."
Chris Smith and Trey Flowers are the likely starters. Smith is a true sophomore. Flowers is a true freshman. Junior DeQuinta Jones, who has started games at tackle, is one of the backups. The other is probably Lonnie Gosha, a true freshman.
"Chris is a good football player," Petrino said. "He's played. Trey did well last week and he had a really good practice yesterday. Mentally, he's coming along and he has very good physical skills.
"Thank goodness that we worked Dede at end in camp so he gives us depth. Then we have Lonnie Gosha and he's worked at both end and tackle. That's about it right now."
The Hogs worked inside Walker Pavilion this week. He said an "unusually hot fall" influences his decision there, along with the early kickoff.
"We wanted to get them out of the heat and inside because we want to get our legs back before that 11 a.m. kickoff," he said. "We got them off the field early today for that reason."
Petrino was asked what a victory over A&M would do for the team's confidence.
"You need a win," he said. "That's why we play, to win. But it's not easy. This is a good team.
"How you do that is for everyone to do their job one play at a time. When you do that, winning takes care of itself."
Petrino said running back Broderick Green is getting close to being ready to play. He's been cleared by doctors after tearing knee ligaments in spring practice. He said Knile Davis, out with a broken ankle, would not play this season.
"It's amazing that Broderick has come back this quickly," Petrino said. "He's been practicing for three weeks. This is the first week he's done everything."
Cornerback Isaac Madison practiced Thursday and could play against A&M. He missed part of the Alabama game. He wore a cast during preseason camp, but the nature of the current injury is not known. Coaches have indicated Madison's availability will be a game time decision.
"Isaac got some good work today," Petrino said. "We'll know more tomorrow."