Petrino, the offensive coordinator, met with the media Tuesday after practice, the first this week as Arkansas welcomes an open week after a 3-4 start. The Hogs play Ole Miss at 11:21 a.m. Oct. 27 in Little Rock. The Rebels also have an open date this week.
The Hogs appear to be on the verge of getting tight end Chris Gragg back after the all-star tight end missed three games with a badly bruised lower leg. He practiced on Tuesday, giving the Hogs all of their main weapons on offense for one of the few times this season.
Petrino said Gragg is "still day to day," but it was easy to see the senior from Warren running smoothly in the open part of Tuesday's workout. He still had a limp last Tuesday.
"Chris is out there and running pretty good," Petrino said. "He's better than he has been. But he's still day to day."
Quarterback Tyler Wilson said Gragg didn't seem to have any problems "getting in and out of cuts and ran crisp routes." Wilson sounded up beat about having a full complement of weapons for the first time in a bit. There have been only three quarters this season when the Hogs had Wilson, Gragg and wideout Cobi Hamilton.
"I'm glad to have Chris back," Wilson said. "He looked really, really good.
"To have those guys all back is tremendous for us," Wilson said. "He's a physical, talented tight end and then to put Cobi outside of him, that's sure a good side to attack with. It's another weapon on the field."
The Hogs appear to be rounding into shape in the offensive line, too. Strong tackle Jason Peacock, suspended for the opener, has started the last four weeks. Gragg often lines up beside Peacock.
"We can do a lot of things up front, but one of them is to have Gragg with those guys on the strong side," Wilson said. "We don't always line up that way, but we haven't had that group together much even across the line."
Petrino said those are the strength of the team, but he said the reason the Hogs clicked the last couple of weeks on the scoreboard is more because of the other support.
"Tyler threw touchdowns to five different players," he said. "And all to different guys than Cobi. So when you spread the ball around like that, you are tougher to defend."
Wilson said there is good news and bad news about an open date. He said one of his favorite athletes is Michael Jordan. He likes to quote the retired basketball player.
"Sometimes it's about timing," Wilson said. "Maybe when you are winning, you'd like to just keep playing. We have played pretty good the last couple of weeks. Jordan said when you are hot, you keep shooting.
"But we are banged up. We need the open date to get healthy. By the same token, we do want to get back on the field and keep playing. So we want to keep improving and correcting mistakes."
Still, Wilson thinks the best is yet to come.
"I told my dad that when you look back at Rutgers and Texas A&M, we moved the ball, but what we did better the last two weeks was eliminate mistakes in the red zone," he said. "I probably had more big plays against those other two. Maybe I didn't have as many big plays, but we didn't turn it over and we didn't hurt ourselves with mistakes and that allowed for more points.
"Really, we haven't been full go (as far as health) all season, but we are getting closer. I want to see what we've got with everyone back."
That doesn't mean that Wilson or the Hogs are looking down the road. He said the focus doesn't change. It was suggested that a winning streak could lead to a bowl, but he said it's more about the short-term goals.
"We have goals every week," Wilson said. "We talk about goals every week. If we take care of those goals, we will be in a good situation at the end of the year. It's just week by week and you can wrack up the wins if you do that."
Offensive guard Alvin Bailey said it's about keeping Wilson safe.
"We've had only one sack the last three games," Bailey said. "That's as good as we've done in one stretch since I've been here. That's the goal. If we do that, good things happen for this offense. That's what we take pride in up front and it's the way we can put things together, stay clean in protection."
Bailey said it's been about making the right reads and checks at the line.
"Me and Travis (Swanson, junior center) argue a little bit when we get to the line about what we see, then we make sure Tyler sees the same thing," he said. "The three of us have been out there together for a bunch of games and we do talk it over at the line about what's there. We may not always agree at first, but we get to the same page pretty quickly."
Bailey said it's been a rough road to get things turned around, but it's getting fun by the day.
"We still have a chance to close it out pretty good," he said. "The team has an eye on these seniors and making sure they get a good finish. I think we still have a chance to have a good season, but we have to just keep improving and correcting mistakes."
Hamilton said, "One of the things that is good to do this week, is to go back and see what we've done right and what we've done wrong. We want to correct the things that can be fixed and get it all going together. So that's important this week."
Wilson added, "I think the key is to continue to eliminate the mistakes. When we've avoided turnovers, we've moved the ball pretty good."