Thursday Grid Update, 8/28

Arkansas finished its on-field practices in preparation for the first game under Bobby Petrino. The Hogs' head coach announced plans for the backup QB -- at least for the first week.

Bobby Petrino was blunt when he was asked after Thursday's workout if he had ever gone into a game with so many freshmen in the picture.

"No, never," Pertrino said. "I'm a little nervous about that."

And, he figures all of those freshmen -- 18 true freshmen in his depth chart -- are a little nervous as they prepare to face a crowd of around 74,000 when the Hogs play host to Western Illinois.

Did he prepare them for that situation -- and for the first run through the "A" during warmups?

"Yeah, I think so," Petrino said. "I think they'll be all right with that. I think it will be new to them when they run through the ‘A' and it's hard to simulate that.

"They've never been in front of 74,000 people before, but they've got an extra pair of pants just in case something happens in warm-ups. I think they'll be all right. We'll get them to game time. I think once the kickoff goes and they can get their first hit, they'll be in good shape."

As far as Thursday's final workout, Petrino called it "sharp" and noted excitement and a fast pace.

"I think they're fired up and ready to play a game," he said. "Now we've just got to make sure we focus from here on out."

Petrino said he would not release any changes to the depth chart since it's release on Monday, but noted if there is a need to play a second quarterback other than senior Casey Dick, it would likely be Nathan Dick. That doesn't mean Tyler Wilson, a true freshman, is set for a redshirt year.

"Nathan would go in first," Petrino said, "and then you always have a decision to make of where we feel like Tyler is, whether you try to hold onto that redshirt, whether you say let's play him, get him experience. We really have got some work to do on that decision so far."

The only other tidbit of change from the Thursday session with the head coach -- practice was closed from start to finish -- had to do with questions about the inexperience at weakside linebacker where true freshmen Jelani Smith and Khiry Battle are tops on the depth chart. Ryan Powers, out most of fall camp with an injury, has gotten some snaps this week.

"It looks like there is a chance that Powers might be available for some work," Petrino said. "He hasn't gotten many reps, but there is one situation where a certain personnel group he might get into the game."

Petrino was asked about the key role wideout/kiick returner Jarius Wright, a true freshman, will play in several areas.

"First thing with Jarius is just his toughness, his ability to keep practicing hard," he said. "He's a quick learner. I thought he did an excellent job of learning what we're asking him to do. And what I like most is the way he runs with the ball after the catch and his ability to make plays with the ball underneath his arm. And I think his mental toughness will really help and his competitiveness will really help him as a true freshman."

The head coach was also asked if the team needed to make a statement in the opening game.

"No, I don't think we're looking to make any statements," he said. "What we want to try to do is understand we get better as the game so that we learn as the game is going on. We do a good job on the sideline. I want to play better in the second quarter than we do in the first, play better in the second half than we do in the first half and just execute and really just worry about ourselves."

Overall, Petrino called it "a good week of preparation. That's really our first time experiencing exactly how work week goes."


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