When the University of Arkansas football team showed up for practice on Wednesday morning, head coach Bobby Petrino basically put the ball and turned them loose.
The Razorbacks zipped through a 107-play scrimmage complete with referees in a morning workout that lasted over 2 hours ahead of a 4 p.m. workout this afternoon.
How'd it go? While the defense flexed its muscle in the run game, UA cornerbacks coach Lorenzo Ward certainly wasn't happy with what happened through the air.
"I'm disappointed," Ward said. "Anytime I get one deep ball thrown on me, I am very disappointed and we gave up a lot of them. We talk about it all the time. Deep balls will get you beat. We want to target the catch in front of us and not give up the deep ball. We had some people get behind us today and it shouldn't have happened. The one D was the majority of it."
Indeed Lucas Miller, Jarius Wright, Crosby Tuck, Greg Childs and Joe Adams all got behind the defense for bombs during the workout.
Starting quarterback Casey Dick was unofficially 13-of-16 for over 250 yards while reserves Nathan Dick, Alex Mortensen, Tyler Wilson and the redshirting Ryan Mallett all got in on the fun with at least one touchdown bomb themselves.
That said, the defense did come up with three interceptions and has shown the ability to make big plays of its own during camp.
"We're getting better, but we're not there yet," Ward said. "We are getting our hands on a lot of balls. I told them everywhere I have coached we have had a lot of interceptions and there is going to be nothing less than that here. If we do the things we are supposed to do, that is going to happen."
Miller hauled in two of those deep passes for touchdowns while catching 4 passes for over 150 yards.
"I think as a team we did a lot better today," Miller said. "Our offense was really clicking and is all coming together. The quarterbacks are making good reads and I got myself open a few times, but I don't get open without the other guys. Everybody was going 100 percent and that helps open things up for receivers and we got the ball a lot."
Needless to say Miller is happy with the amount of action the wideouts are getting under Petrino.
"I think the receivers are finally adjusting to it and we are realizing that we are going to have to be playmakers in this offense," Miller said. "That's something in the past we really didn't have to do a whole lot of because we had guys like Darren McFadden and Felix Jones in the backfield. Now I think there is more emphasis on us being playmakers and we take great pride in being there for the quarterbacks."
No less that 10 different receivers caught balls during the Wednesday morning scrimmage.
"Obviously it is a lot different and a lot different on our body," Miller said. "Throught conditioning this summer we got ready for it. It takes all 8 to 10 guys because there is so much going on. The freshmen are doing a great job and the competition is just stepping up and we are all going to be ready for the first game."
Tuck was on the verge of having a huge freshmen season before he broke an elbow three games into the season.
"I sure wished I hadn't broken my elbow and got to finish the year because I would like to have seen how last year turned out for me and the team," Tuck said. "But that's not what happened so I just went to work and kept going on."
He now looks to be healthy and productive.
"There's some day-to-day stuff off the field I can't do, but football-wise it is as good as it is going to be," Tuck said. "I think it is where I can be very productive out here now and get all the work in."
Tuck was impressed with both the offense and defense on Wednesday morning.
"I think it actually went pretty well on both sides of the ball," Tuck said. "Everybody was playing hard and playing tough. The defense did have some big interceptions and big stops as well as the offense having some a lot of big plays."
On the injury front, tight end Andrew Davie (left shoulder) was able to get back into practice after missing the last couple of days.
"My shoulder is a little tender and I don't have all the strength back, but I was able to get some plays in today and felt pretty good out there," Davie said.
Not participating in the scrimmage this morning were quarterback Jim Youngblood, tailback De'Anthony Curtis, defensive end Jake Bequette, fullback Lance Thompson and linebacker Ryan Powers.
Davie talked about how injured players at Arkansas now are put through almost as strenuous a workout as if they were practicing.
That includes pulling sleds and bear crawls and other things to keep them busy while their injuries are healing.
"Nobody wants to be hurt, nobody wants to be on the sidelines," Davie said. "You'd hear guys who would say it would be nice to be hurt, but that was few and far between. With this coaching staff and this training staff, you don't want to be hurt. You want to be out there on the field. But if you are hurt, you are going to be working while you are hurt and not just hanging out."
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