Even though Saturday's opener with Western Illinois will be the first night of a new Razorback era and there are a number of youngsters scheduled for the first college action, University of Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino expects fireworks.
"Our expectations are always high and we expect to go out there and move the ball up and down the field and score touchdowns," Petrino said after Tuesday's practice. "That's what we are expecting to do and we are never going to be happy with anything less than that."
Arkansas has just two more practices left before the contest and Petrino said the coaches and players are gearing up after a long fall camp where they have put in a lot of work.
"You are always anxious for every game, but that's the fun part about it," Petrino said. "That's why you always tell the players they have got to cherish the moment, be excited and go out and compete. That's what we have worked so hard for and the game is the payday."
Arkansas went through almost a 2 ½ hour practice on Tuesday after a not-so-impressive workout on Monday after the first day of classes.
"I thought guys came out today and try to play with great effort and flew around," Petrino said. "I was impressed with that. We have to watch the tape, there were a couple of mistakes, but we have got two more days to clean that up. I thought our enthusiasm and effort was real good."
It's clear that Arkansas is planning on taking advantage of its backs as well as its tight ends and wideouts in the passing game.
"It is real important because it makes the defense defend the whole field," Petrino said. "Otherwise they just figure on the backs always being in for protection and the linebackers can get under other people's routes."
True freshmen De'Anthony Curtis, one of those backs, was able to go full speed through Tuesday's practice after being out almost two weeks until last Friday with an injury.
"I thought he looked good," Petrino said of Curtis. "You always have to go in and watch it on tape, but I thought he moved around good and he has always caught the ball well. I felt the last two days have been very encouraging with De'Anthony."
Wideouts Jarius Wright and Joe Adams are a couple of other true freshmen who will see plenty of action at the Z position.
Wright will be the starter.
"I just think he has been a little more consistent," Petrino said. "There is not a whole lot of difference between him and Joe and they will probably play almost the exact number of snaps. Jarius has probably graded out higher each scrimmage in effort and that is how I am going to determine who starts."
Fans should expect to see fellow true freshmen Greg Childs and Chris Gragg as well.
"I have been real happy with all four of those freshmen," Petrino said. "They are all very coachable, can take hard coaching and work hard."
There is also a good contest going on at the W, where Lucas Miller is listed as the starter and Carlton Salters as the back-up.
"Him and Carlton are very similar to Joe and Jarius right now," Petrino said. "I have actually moved one in front of the other the last couple of days. To be honest, they still have two more days of practice to see who will be there. As of right now, Lucas is the guy."
Petrino also heads up the kickoff return team, which will have true freshmen Elton Ford and Wright as its deep guys.
"I feel good and think they have done a good job in camp," Petrino said. "Elton has hit it real hard and they do a good job of communicating back there…I feel confident both of them will catch the ball and run hard."
The UA depth chart released Monday had 20 total freshmen on it, 15 of which were true freshmen.
"It is just kind of a case where a lot of our freshmen have got to play," Petrino said. "They are really not freshmen any more. They have been through camp and they just got to get out there and play and believe in them and have them believe in themselves and go play."
Petrino said his group faces a strange first look with Western Illinois' defense .
"It is a unique defense, a little different and probably not one you would want to go against in your opener," Petrino said. "They have a little different scheme. It is one we've had to work hard on and we just have to make sure we go out there and understand our assignment as a team.
"It probably originated for the old Buddy Ryan 46, but they put two linebackers as three techniques and kind of walk them off the ball. A lot of their principles are similar to that and they play a lot of man 3 and a lot of cover 3."
Elsewhere on the injury front, linebackers Elston Forte and Ryan Powers and Jerell Norton were all in pads, but were limited and will not play this weekend.
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