Petrino said Tuesday's practice was "one of the best all year." The Arkansas offensive coordinator said it was a good day for the offensive line and he noted that the pads were loud ... "the best I've heard them all year. It excites me. People know what they are doing. Now we have to keep it up and put two more with it."
One of the most interesting items that came out of Tuesday's meeting with Petrino concerned the improved play and attitude from running back Dennis Johnson. Head coach John L. Smith noted Johnson's attitude improvement at Monday's media briefing.
Petrino went into more detail. He said Johnson has been great "ever since his mom came to town. She came to talk to (coaches) and to him. She obviously made a big difference."
Petrino at first said that visit came before the Texas A&M game, but he later corrected himself and said it was before the Rutgers game as part of her normal weekend to home games. Johnson's mother visited with Smith, Petrino and running backs coach Tim Horton, then in a group with her son.
"She met with us individually, then came to a conclusion on what was best for Dennis," Petrino said. "I thought it was great that she came to town and did that for her son."
Petrino admitted that it wasn't a normal situation for a mother to have that type of meeting "at this level of football." He added that maybe there should be more of it after seeing the results.
Tight end Chris Gragg had his best day since coming off a leg and knee injury sustained against Rutgers. Gragg said, "I'm good and I'm glad to be back. I want to go get a win against Ole Miss. The coaches said I'm looking pretty good and fast. I'm back to normal."
Quarterback Tyler Wilson also said Gragg looked fast.
"Chris looked really good, like he didn't miss a beat," Wilson said. "He was catching it like he's done all along."
Wilson said Tuesday's workout was a lot like many others over the last several weeks.
"It was one of our best," Wilson said. "The intensity and the execution were really good. We are clicking on all cylinders. It's really the way we expect to practice now. It's a combination of things.
"We've had two good weeks of practice previously, good practices last week and our Thursday practice was great. Our guys were really into it at the end of last week and you may not always get that right before you are going to take off for a bye week."
Did Wilson think the pads were louder Tuesday?
"I don't know that I noticed them louder," he said. "What I noticed was that you saw great intensity up front today. It's not so much you heard it, you saw it. It was the speed of everything, the offensive line and the way the wide receivers were running. I saw the way my center was coming off the ball and the receivers. That's what I noticed today. It was great."
Wilson said it's exciting for the Arkansas offense to get Gragg back on the field for this week's SEC game with Ole Miss.
"Getting Chris back is huge," Wilson said. "We are able to disguise more things we do with him. We can put him in different formations and he helps us with his perimeter blocking. I don't think he's lost a step from what I saw today.
"We can do a number of things with Chris. He helps us on the perimeter and he can stretch the field. We can get some cheap yards, or some chunk plays might be a different way of saying it."
Wilson said Johnson's solid play is something he comes to expect at this time of year. He remembers Johnson making a big play to help turn around last year's Ole Miss game.
"We checked to a run play and I can remember seeing Dennis run right down the middle of the field," Wilson said. "We needed it. He gives us big plays this time of year when we need it."
The Hogs are going back to the scene of an upset loss to Louisiana-Monroe. However, Petrino said it's just about adding another win.
"It's just important to go win," Petrino said. "It would get us that much closer to a bowl. That was a game that we lost Tyler and things didn't turn out real well."
Wilson said he doesn't remember much about the night. He spent the night in a hospital after a concussion against ULM in War Memorial Stadium.
"I was a little under the weather and remember more about two days later," Wilson said. "But that's a place I've had a lot of success. I won three state championships there. I've had good games there in the past.
"This will be my last go in (Little Rock) so I want to play my hardest. Some of our fans, this will be their last time to see me play live. I want to get a win for them."
Wilson threw for five touchdowns in his last outing, but he fell off the semifinal list for the Davy O'Brien Award, given to the nation's top quarterback.
"We are focused on our team goals," Wilson said. "You win, things take care of themselves. Obviously, I'm a competitor and I want to be on those type things. But if we rattle off a few wins, maybe I'd prove myself worthy and be considered for those type things."
Ole Miss will bring plenty of pressures. Petrino said he knows defensive coordinator Dave Wommack, a former UA assistant coach. They were on the same staff at Southern Miss where there wives became close.
"I have a lot of respect for Dave and hopefully he does for me," Petrino said. "I don't talk to him as much as maybe I did with some on the staff we played last game. But our wives talk."
Petrino knows Wommack's style.
"In the past, he's been more man blitz, but this year it's more zone blitz," Petrino said. "He carries a lot."