Thursday Grid Update, 8/18

Who will kick for Arkansas this week? Will it be Alex Tejada or Shay Haddock? Bobby Petrino provided a hint.

Arkansas went inside the stadium Thursday for the third time this week in preparation for Saturday's SEC opener with Alabama. Head coach Bobby Petrino said the atmosphere on the game field added to the tempo and helped preparations.

"Emotionally, we are ready," Petrino said. "I feel good about the way the players are prepared for the game plan. They have a good idea of what they are doing. I do feel like they are ready to play.

"With the extra week and the extra practice (because of the Texas postponement), they are tired of practicing."

Petrino wouldn't name a starter at placekicker between Alex Tejada and Shay Haddock after the two have battled on a daily basis the last two weeks. He said coaches will do a final evaluation of practice video Friday morning before picking the starter.

"I imagine it will be Tejada," Petrino said, "but both of them have kicked well."

Petrino said the extra work on the game field was partly because of the battle at placekicker.

"We wanted to see them on the same surface they'll see in the game, and with the same goal posts," he said. "The ones on the practice field are the NFL width, a little more narrow. There are times on those goal posts that it looks like it's not good, but it's actually a make. We wanted to kick with these goal posts. It's better for confidence and we wanted to work on this surface.

"I do like to come into the stadium on Thursday because it helps the tempo."

But that's not the only reason for the added practice time in the stadium.

"The players like to practice in here and it always picks up the tempo and makes for a better practice," Petrino said. "We've had good practices.

"We are ready for a game. We've had two weeks to prepare. Our guys are antsy to play. We've had good workouts. We had a good workout today.

"We are about as good as far as health as we could be. We do feel like we are ready to play.

"We've got more guys available. That should help us in special teams. We've got more starters on special teams because of the depth."

Petrino wants a fast start after the Hogs sputtered out of the gate in their first two games.

"It's important for our confidence," he said. "We want to take off just like we left off (in the fourth quarter) from our last game. Certainly, we'd like to come out and have a good drive and then get a three-and-out. We want to come out and play like we've practiced. We want to move it in that first series. We want to play well in special teams."

Petrino was asked about the progress Alabama coach Nick Saban has made in his second year.

"He's a very good coach," Petrino said. "I've always followed him when I saw his teams play at Michigan State until now. He's always been up-to-date on all the latest schemes. His defenses are always good as far as scheme and technique."

Petrino chuckled when he was asked about the Hogs' lack of forced turnovers so far this season.

"They are coming -- they've got to, that's the odds," he said. "It's like my putting. I keep thinking I'm going to make them. Sooner or later, they have to go in some of the time. We are going to get turnovers."

Petrino knows the Hogs will a strong crowd, but he said the players have to give them something to be excited about in the game.

"We do have a good home field, but we have to make it a homefield advantage," he said. "WE have to get off to a good start. We have to make our crowd excited. We have to make plays. We have to hit the quarterback. We are responsible for how our crowd cheers by how we play."

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