State of the Hogs: Flipping the Switch

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Just as smooth as quarterback Casey Dick took Arkansas down the field in the closing minutes in victories the last two weeks, the well-organized Bobby Petrino machine switched its focus from Texas to Alabama.

Click, click, click. The toggle switches were thrown. It was Alabama even before Hurricane Ike's outer bands could make it to Galveston.

Because of the depth of the preparation in the summer and the last two weeks -- plus the use of sophisticated computers -- it was almost as simple as flipping a toggle when the Hogs found out Wednesday night that the storm had postponed this weekend's trip to Austin.

It didn't take long for the Arkansas coaching staff to be handed DVDs with Alabama plays or for director of football operations Mark Robinson to inform the head coach that the Hogs had found an open hotel for their new Sept. 27 date in Austin.

"We were kinda expecting it," said Petrino, when asked about the postponement. "Our graduate assistants had entered all the Alabama film in the computer, including their first two games this year and the stuff from some games last year. They had it for (the staff) when we finished practice (Wednesday afternoon). They handed it to us when we walked back in the building from practice.

"We picked out a few teams back in the summer to go ahead and get in the computer and Alabama was one of them. So we didn't have a problem moving to them last night.

"We lost some recruiting (plans) because we couldn't go to (south Texas) like what we wanted this weekend. We lost that. But we still are going to get seven coaches on the road Friday night. "Mark Robinson told me that the hotel we had for this weekend wasn't available for (Sept 27), but he had already got that covered. I think we have everything covered."

So how late did the staff stay in the Broyles Center on Wednesday night?

"Not real late," he said. "We had what we needed pretty early. It wasn't bad. We were home early. We had done enough last night to have our cards ready for first and second down. We still have some work to do, but we were OK."

Ironically, Petrino sounded worried about getting everything done if the game was postponed when he walked over to a reporter in the back of the end zone just before Wednesday's practice.

"I wish we knew one way or another right now," Petrino said Wednesday. "We need to either move on to Alabama, or get on with this one. That's the tough part, knowing which game to get ready to play."

In fact, Petrino's staff was perhaps prepared either way, it turns out. The preparations have been so thorough and intense over the summer that Petrino said he'll give his coaches Saturday off. He wouldn't say what his plans are for the weekend, but admitted he'll watch some football. He promised he wouldn't watch any of ESPN's SportsCenter.

Players have Friday and Saturday off. D. J. Williams knew the correct answer when asked after Thursday's workouts what he'll do to fill that time.

"How about I tell you that I'm going to watch video of Alabama," Williams said. "That's the right answer, isn't it?"

No doubt. The sophomore tight end was a little wowed to get that Alabama DVD -- already split into first, second and third down situations -- first thing Thursday.

"I have to admit I was surprised how quick they got on to Alabama," he said. "I thought it might take a day or two. I hate to make comparisons with the old staff, but this staff moved fast.

"I think that's one of the things they have -- a mindset to move fast and be organized for anything. There is some real dedication. It's about business and they were ready to get us on to Alabama today. We left yesterday thinking Texas, and we were getting ready for Alabama pretty fast today. It was impressive."

Offensive tackle Jose Valdez said the same thing. He said it took about 15 seconds for line coach Mike Summers to make the transition to Alabama to start Thursday's position meeting.

"Coach Summers told us that the Texas stuff was going to be good preparation for this week because Alabama's defense runs a lot of the same stuff," he said. "Let's move on to Alabama and we did. That's how quick it was. I shouldn't be surprised, but I guess I was a little bit. They were really ready today and we just moved on."

And, they moved fast. Valdez said the coaches let the Hogs take off leg pads along with the bulky knee braces for a quick-paced workout Thursday.

Included was a session that matched the first offense against the first defense to get a look at some true speed. Nothing they saw on the field matched the way their coaches moved from Texas to Alabama.



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