Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino is alive and well, likes how his team is practicing, respects Cotton Bowl foe Kansas State, doesn't think Knile Davis will play in that contest and is looking for a new defensive coordinator from both inside and outside of his program.
That all came out from on Friday afternoon's Cotton Bowl teleconference from Petrino, who because of a variety of circumstances had only been available to the media for four minutes in the last month.
The hot topic around Arkansas' football program has been who is going to be the hire to replace Willy Robinson, whose contract was not renewed.
"We are in the process of working who our next hire is going to be as the defensive coordinator," Petrino said. "The coaches are all back off the (recruiting) road now and we have had two good practices yesterday and today.
"We're excited, our players are excited to practice and work hard to get better for the bowl game," Petrino added.
While Petrino initially said he didn't think the Cotton Bowl teleconference was necessarily the best place to discuss the hire, he did provide some details.
"There is a lot involved in that and I am not sure today is the day to get into that, but – first of all – anytime you hire somebody you are looking their experience, their character, what you know about them, how they are going to relate to our players, how our players are going to relate to them," Petrino said. "There are a number of things that you look at in making that decision."
The Arkansas staff has certainly shuffled since the Razorbacks' season-ending loss to LSU on Nov. 26.
Offensive coordinator Garrick McGee is now the head coach at UAB, special teams coordinator and linebackers coach John L. Smith is now head coach at Weber State and Robinson is no longer with Arkansas.
Arkansas has moved defensive line coach Bobby Allen to the secondary and brought director of football operations Kevin Peoples to the field to coach the defensive line.
"I think we are very fortunate to have Bobby Allen on our staff," Petrino said. "He has coordinated defenses and done a great job as a coordinator. He's spent most of his career in the secondary working with the safeties and the defensive backs. It is an easy transition for him to come back there and one that he is extremely excited about it.
"We've had Kevin Peoples on our staff now for two years now knowing that there is going to be an opportunity for him to step in and work with the defensive front, which is something that he has done his entire career as a coach," Petrino continued. "I think he is very, very good at it. I know he is excited to have been out there that last two days and has done a very good job."
Smith noted that he was certainly happy for Smith, one of his mentors.
"We are real excited for Coach Smith and what he did for our staff," Petrino said. "For him to be able to go back to Weber State and be the head coach at the University he graduated is really exciting for him. We wish him all the best of luck. He certainly did a great job for us in coordinating the special teams and coaching the linebackers."
There has been some speculation that tailback Knile Davis – who was injured before the season and did not play – might be able to play in the Cotton Bowl.
"I still don't think there is a chance for Knile," Petrino said. "He's out there. He looks good…He still has to go through the process of removing the screw that is in his ankle."
Kansas State has a talented quarterback in Collin Klein, who passed for 1,745 yards and rushed for 1,099 more this season.
"He is going to create us a great challenge," Petrino said. "He is very, very talented, a tremendous runner and shown that he can throw the football with anybody in the country.
"We are going to be very disciplined on defense, do a great job with our eyes and be able to tackle well," Petrino added. "I think that is the one thing – not only in the quarterback runs, but also in ability to scramble out on pass calls."
Petrino made it clear that his program was proud to be in the Cotton Bowl.
"I know our student-athletes, our coaching staff and our entire University is excited to be going to the AT&T Cotton Bowl and playing a great Kansas State team," Petrino said. "Rick Baker and his staff at the Cotton Bowl do a tremendous job and run a very first-class bowl."
Petrino lauded Kansas State's 10-win season and then lauded his own squad for winning the same amount this season.
"I am very proud of our football team for the way we have stuck together all season," Petrino said. "That doesn't always happen on every team, but the mentality of this team has allowed us to be successful.
"The team looks forward to the challenge and we look forward to sending our seniors out with another win and become one of the best teams in school history," Petrino added. "I know the state of Arkansas is very excited to be traveling down to Dallas for the January 6th game."
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