"It was exciting to watch," Petrino said. "We completed a lot of passes and we were in the right protections."
In fact, there were so many good things and so many bright spots among newcomers -- especially at wide receiver -- that Petrino almost forgot about one of the highlights of fall camp, the continued brilliant play of Brandon Mitchell at quarterback.
"Brandon made a bunch of big plays," Petrino said. "He's got a big body and knows the holes in the defense. One one of the TDs, I'm not sure many receivers would have known where to go."
Arkansas went in full pads Wednesday night for a little over two hours. The team got a break from the heat after heavy storms rolled through the Fayetteville area in the morning. Temperatures at the start of practice were in the low 80s and stayed mild. There was another storm cloud close at the end of the workout, but only a few drops came out of it onto the intramural fields.
Dennis Johnson did not practice. Paul Petrino said he was excused for personal reasons and would return soon. Tenarius Wright was on the sideline, out the last two days after sustaining a mild concussion Monday. Alonzo Highsmith and Eric Bennett also sat out the workout. Linebacker Matt Marshall appeared to sustain an ankle injury midway through the workout.
With the depth thinned at linebacker, Kiero Small donned a white jersey and practiced all night at inside linebacker. He got work with the second group. Terrell Williams and Otha Peters took the snaps with the first group at inside linebacker. A. J. Turner joined Small with the twos.
The Hogs may be thin at linebacker, but it's clear now that there is plenty of help available at wide receiver. Petrino said all of the newcomers have done well, but he really liked the work of true freshman Mekale McKay in the scrimmage. The 6-6 Louisville, Ky., product had two touchdown catches on Tuesday.
"It was good to see McKay," he said. "It didn't surprise me. I thought he could do that. But it was good to see him actually do it. Really, the whole young group of receivers did well."
Veteran Cobi Hamilton also had a good scrimmage, along with the rest of the returnees. Hamilton said perhaps it will quiet some of those who doubted where the Hogs would be at wide receiver. They lost Jarius Wright, Joe Adams and Greg Childs to the NFL draft and a couple potential returnees to off-the-field troubles.
"I was laughing every time I heard someone say we were going to be hurting (at wide receiver)," Hamilton said. "Our coaches do a great job recruiting. They find guys who can catch and run. And they tie it together with great quarterbacks. We look good out there together.
"We don't bring in short guys who can't run either. These guys are tall and they are athletes. We have a lot of talent in this group."
Hamilton wasn't surprised at McKay's production, either.
"I've been telling Coach (Petrino) he was my favorite athlete out of all of them," Hamilton said. "I knew he could make plays."
Hamilton hasn't been surprised by Mitchell's play at wide receiver after seeing him on the basketball court.
"You are talking about an athlete," Hamilton said. "I knew he was capable of making plays, too. He is a real natural wide receiver. I think you see that he also reads defenses real well at wide receiver. It's like having two quarterbacks out there, two real genius types at knowing the defense.
"But we have a lot of athletes out there at wide receiver. McKay is good, but so are the others. I like D'Arthur Cowan a lot, too."
Petrino said the plan for Tuesday's scrimmage probably didn't call for so much passing, but the defensive scheme that was emphasized sent the calls that direction.
"We'd like to run it more and we will, but right now they are packing it in (on defense) and playing line games -- so we are going to throw it," he said. "Our protections are good."
Petrino was asked about Knile Davis sitting out the scrimmage, obviously not taking any contact after missing last season with a broken ankle.
"We are in an ongoing conversation (about when Davis will be tackled)," Petrino said. "He's not going to get hit right now.
"He's been good. He's making his runs and getting his work. He is getting hit, but we are not taking him to the ground. He still gets his reads."
Petrino said the scrimmage was a perfect example of the offensive philosophy that's been in place the last four seasons at Arkansas. He said both Wilson and redshirt freshman quarterback Brandon Allen distributed the ball to the variety of weapons.
"They got it to our studs," Petrino said. "That's what we want to do, feed the studs."
It was Allen's best scrimmage, Petrino said. He noted that makes it easier to keep Mitchell at wide receiver, but that's not the reason for the change.
"I think it's just a win-win," Petrino said. "I think that because Brandon Mitchell is at wide receiver and Brandon Allen has gotten more reps, it's helped him. But we feel good about all three. All three are in the meeting room. You have to have all three available at quarterback."
Petrino said it's not the first time he's been around a situation where a player spends time in the quarterback meeting room, then plays a different position on the field.
"We did that with Michael Bush as a freshman at Louisville," he said. "He was in the quarterback room, then at running back when we went on the field."