Petrino's Brother Offers Playcalling Advice

FAYETTEVILLE — While Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino stands on the sidelines, looking at what's going on around him, his younger brother sits in a coaches' box several hundred feet away.

Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino serves as his brother's eyes in the sky, as well as a constant voice in his ear.

Over the course of a football game, Paul Petrino will scan the field, relay over the headset what defensive coverages he sees and then suggest certain offensive plays to run.

But unlike most offensive coordinators, Paul Petrino doesn't call the plays. That responsibility belongs to his older brother, who's regarded as one of the best offensive playcallers in college football.

As one might expect, there is a level of trust between the Petrino brothers. And they have come up with a proven method for determining what plays to run at certain times in a game.

"He's probably the best I've ever been around. He wants you saying what you're seeing and saying what's going on," said Paul Petrino, who's six years younger than his brother. "Every once in a while, he'll tell you to shut up. But for the most part, he likes (feedback) and he'll know when to use it."

Most college football coaches don't call their own plays. They have their offensive coordinators handle that job. But Bobby Petrino enjoys doing it too much to pass it off on someone else.

Of course, Paul Petrino has a say in the playcalling, even if his older brother makes the final decision on what's run.

That will again be the case Saturday night when the Petrino era officially begins with Arkansas' season opener against Western Illinois in Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.

"A lot of times I'll ask (Paul) what do we want to get to, where do we want to start the next series," Bobby Petrino said. "And there are a number of times where we already have three plays called for the next series coming out."

The Petrino brothers are known for being meticulous with their game preparations. They study hours of film of the opposing team, and Bobby Petrino likes to get his assistants together to script the first handful of offensive plays.

Once the game begins, Bobby and Paul Petrino communicate constantly over the headset. They do much of their talking when their defense is on the field. They'll review the previous series and discuss what the opposing defense is doing on certain downs and distances.

"During the course of the game, I'll always call out the coverages ... (and) I'll always be saying what I think is there," Paul Petrino said. "And he listens to me a lot, but the last call is always made by him."

Paul Petrino said his brother takes his suggestions into account, but a certain play might not get called immediately. One thing Bobby Petrino is good at, according to his younger brother, is knowing the right situation to run a play.

"It's just something we've worked (out) well before," said Paul Petrino, who also served as his brother's offensive coordinator at Louisville.

It's hard to argue with the results of Bobby Petrino calling the plays and his brother offering tips from the coaches' box.

In 2004, Louisville led the nation in total offense (539.0 yards per game) and scoring (49.8 points per game) while setting an NCAA record with five consecutive games of at least 50 points.

And in their final season at Louisville in 2006, the Cardinals ranked second in the nation in total yards (475.3 ypg.) and fourth in scoring (37.8 ppg.).

Bobby Petrino, however, won't be the first Arkansas coach to call his own plays. Houston Nutt handled that responsibility for his first eight seasons with the Razorbacks before finally handing it over — at least in theory — to his offensive coordinators.

Bobby Petrino said he likes the rapport he has with his brother and has no intentions of changing how the playcalling is done.

"He does a great job up in the box," Bobby Petrino said. "And certainly that'll be something that'll help us here early."

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