Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino cut back on the length of Thursday's practice, but players said it still wasn't an especially easy day.
"The tempo was still very high," said tight end Andrew Davie. "We may not have been out here as long, but it still was a day when we went fast and worked very hard. I wouldn't call it easy. It was tough, like everything else we've done."
Petrino said players should begin to "get their legs back" after a reduction in work, including less time on their feet over the last 24 hours. A "mock" game is scheduled for Friday night and then no practices Saturday or Sunday. Petrino said his staff would put together a depth chart sometime Sunday with plans to release it to the public perhaps coming as soon as Monday.
It will be a depth chart full of freshmen.
"It makes me nervous because we are going to play a lot of them," Petrino said about the freshmen. "I haven't slept very well.
"Our last year at Louisville, we probably played only six or eight because we had a lot of guys coming back. I thought we might play six to 10 this year, but it's going to be a little more than that. Ask me again about that on Sunday night.
"I don't like to play freshmen on special teams, especially early. That makes me extra nervous. We've tried to do an extra good job of evaluation of this group (of freshmen) to see if they can help us because we don't have a lot of experience returning.
"I just don't like to put freshmen on special teams where they can lose you a game early in the year. I'd rather wait a few weeks into the season before playing freshmen there, but we look like we need them."
Petrino said Friday night's workout might figure into some of those decisions. He said the entire day will be game-like and there will be some hitting.
"We will hit," he said. "We like to hit, we really do. We will definitely hit.
"We'll go ones against twos and threes, and against some scouts. What we do (Friday night) will definitely impact (the depth chart). We still need to look at some things. We still need to finish fall camp."
There will be a pre-game meal to make the day game-like, a walk-through and situations in the athletic training room similar to what they'll be like on game day.
"We just want to do things to be like they will be on game day and get used to how that day will go for our players," Petrino said. "We've had a good last week of camp and we need one more good day."
Petrino said Thursday's practice was set up to be similar to what a Thursday is like on game week.
"This is what a normal Thursday is like," he said. "We worked 20 minutes on special teams, hit a lot of situations. Then we worked on offense and defense with some game situations. Then, we finished with the two-minute drill and wanted them to see what that's like when they are tired because that's how it will be like in a game."
Petrino said linebacker Wendell Davis got more work in practice, but still isn't ready for game action. He said it would be highly unlikely Davis will be ready for the opener.
"He's still got two issues with a hand and a knee, but I was impressed with his movement today," Petrino said. "We've got him with the scouts. I watched him today a little more than I might because I wanted to see how he's doing. He's coming along, but I don't think (he could be ready for the opener). I don't see how."
Petrino was asked about the progress of true freshman Jarius Wright at wide receiver. Specifically, was he surprised that he would be ready to play.
"He might be a little readier (to play) than I might have thought," Petrino said. "I will say that a couple of our assistants were betting on him. He's got great mental toughness and he can really run after the catch."
Petrino said running back De'Anthony Curtis is getting close to being able to contribute after sustaining a knee injury earlier in camp.
"He's getting better," Petrino said. "He isn't all the way back yet, but you can tell he feels better. He's got that big smile back."
Sophomore Wade Grayson continues to work with the first team at weakside guard, ahead of senior Mitch Petrus. Grayson and Petrus have been going back and forth with the first team, but line coach Mike Summers said it's getting close to making a decision on the lineup.
"I don't like to play games with the starting lineup," Summers said. "Grayson has had a good camp. He's got great work ethic, great toughness."
Toughness has been required in this camp, Andrew Davie said.
"Fall camp is never easy, but I can tell you it's been work all the way through and very tough," Davie said. "It has been a real grind, every single day. We are worn out. There have been no easy days so far. If this was a Thursday like in the season, I can honestly say it's the hardest Thursday that I've ever been through. The tempo was just crazy fast. But that's good, because this is how the games will be for us, very fast.
"The coaches have gotten us ready and they are getting these freshmen ready. There are some good ones. There are some good ones at wide receiver, some good ones on defense. They look good and we know that we are going to need every one of them.
"We are having a good camp. Our timing and rhythm has gotten better. We have just gotten faster and quicker with everything. Casey Dick has had a good camp. We are clicking pretty good right now. Casey has done a good job with checks, reads. He's making the right reads and we are getting faster with all of it every day."
Line coach Mike Summers likes what he sees up front.
"I think the communication and the way they have learned the new language with everything in our scheme has gotten pretty good," Summers said. "I've been impressed with the way they have picked everything up. There is a lot of talking to be done up front in a short period of time each play. They've gotten it down. Jonathan Luigs has done a great job. It's great to have a player like that with his work ethic, his desire to study the scheme and a player who can lead us up front. He does a lot for us."
Thursday Grid Update, 8/21
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