Hogs Hit Early

Arkansas finished its second day of workouts Friday as full pads loom for Saturday. There was a little contact at the start of practice when Bobby Petrino's father had a collision with a wide receiver.

The pads don't come on until Saturday morning when Arkansas gets to its third workout of spring football drills, but the hitting began early Friday. A wide receiver ran a deep route that carried him into Bob Petrino, Sr., father of head coach Bobby Petrino.

"It was a good hit," Bobby Petrino said. "I saw it. I'm just glad he's OK."

Bob Petrino was moving across the middle of the field after seeing two of his grandchildren entering Walker Pavilion just after the start of Friday's practice. He was knocked to the turf and sustained a minor cut to his right eyebrow.

"It was my fault," Bob Petrino said. "Or maybe it's their fault. I hadn't seen them in awhile and wanted to go across the field to them."

Bob Petrino had blood trickling down his face before trainers applied some glue to the cut.

"I don't think you get stitches any more, just that glue," he said. "I'm OK. I shouldn't have been out there."

Bob Petrino is retired from coaching after 29 years of leading the NAIA school in Helena, Mont., where he coached both Bobby and Paul Petrino, UA assistant coaches, as quarterbacks. He will attend two weeks of Arkansas spring practices.

Except for the premature hitting, Bob Petrino said the Hogs' second practice was good.

"I was happy with the detail of the second day," he said. "We installed more offense and defense. I thought we improved on our quarterback's technique today.

"We emphasized running to the ball on defense today and I thought we had a good day.

"We will emphasize playing smart as we keep adding to it. We want to stay off the ground. We were on the ground some today."

Petrino said he likes what he sees of the top three running backs -- Michael Smith, Brandon Barnett and Chip Gregory.

"Michael Smith is impressive," he said. "He's got speed and quickness. I like what I've seen of Brandon Barnett. His pass protection and his ability to catch the ball is good and he is quick, too. I like the way Chip Gregory looks, too. Chip is still learning the position. He stumbles a little, but I think he will be fun to watch in pads when we get some live work."

Gregory, 6-3, 218-pound sophomore, moved to running back after working as a defender at outside linebacker his first two seasons at the UA. He made the move after Petrino watched him work in offseason strength and conditioning drills.

"We were looking for a big back to run the ball," Petrino said. "We thought about Ryan Powers, Jerry Franklin and Gregory when we saw them move in agility work. We did some checking and found out Franklin wasn't a running back in high school. The only offense he played was at tight end.

"We wanted to get that big back. He has the instincts to play there. He has a lot to learn, but he is a quick learner."

Gregory said he heard a rumor during the winter that a move could be in the works.

"I heard that in the weight room, then I got a call to go to Coach Petrino's office," he said. "I knew they weren't kidding. When you see Coach Petrino's face, it's all business. He's going to talk to you with a straight face.

"This was an opportunity for me and I am excited. I'm just trying to get better every play, every day.

"We are going to hit tomorrow and I'm looking forward to it. I want to see what I can do. I want to see what will happen when I lower my shoulder and see if someone wants to hit me. Other than Darren (McFadden), they haven't had to hit any big backs around here."

Asked about the work in the passing game, Petrino said one disappointment of Friday's workout was a few dropped passes by Tuck. "Crosby had a tough time today," Petrino said. "He's got good hands and we don't expect him to have any drops, but he had a couple today."

Petrino liked the tempo for the second straight day.

"We do some things to get that tempo fast," he said. "On a running play, we finish it off with 25 yards at the end of the play. A pass play, after the catch, we sprint 45 yards. That sets the tempo that we are going to go hard on every play. It also gets us used to making big plays. That's an emphasis that we have."

There is little doubt the other positions on the field are moving fast, too. Offensive line coach Mike Summers has sent his unit back to the huddle several times for not breaking to the line fast enough. That group is learning a new scheme, something Summers notes is not easy.

"We are putting in a lot," he said. "There is a lot to this offense so we have a lot of work to do."

One aspect that is new is the flip-flop up front the line does from weakside to strong side for the guards and tackles. No longer are the guards and tackles labeled as right and left.

"Coach Petrino has always employed the strongside and weakside system," Summers said. "It helps get the matchups we want."

That can mean a matchup in the defensive front as far as tracking where the defense aligns its strongside defensive tackle and also where to get the right match with the slot receiver.

"That's something we've found that gives us some advantages," Summers said. "We are not set with the way we are paired up. We are still looking for the way our guys work together and which set is going to be weak or strong. It's a lot about finding a guard and tackle that can work together on pulling plays.

"We've not always had one set be the dominant side. There was a two-year period at Louisville that our weakside was our dominant side and then the next two years our strongside was dominant."

Currently, Summers has tackle Ray Dominguez and guard Demarcus Love paired on one side and tackle Jose Valdez and Mitch Petrus paired on the other.

"We are still figuring out which way we'll go as far as strong and weak," he said. "But we won't be changing them much. The other advantage is that there are weak plays and strong plays in our offense and they don't have to learn so much if they flip sides. That helps us be a better offensive line.

"We are still in the process of teaching all of it. Now we get to add pads and hit with what we've learned. Everyone is still fighting for a job and everyone is at zero as far as the competition. Everyone is building a relationship. We are going to see with pads who has talent and who has heart."

There was one injury at practice Friday. Cornerback Jerrell Norton sustained a hamstring injury late in the workout as he was fielding punts.

"He was starting to make a move," Petrino said of Norton. "It looked he pulled up with a hamstring. Hopefully, it's not too bad and he'll be back out here pretty soon."

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