After the University of Arkansas trudged off the field after a 52-10 loss at Texas last weekend, Razorback offensive coordinator Paul Petrino had a few words.
"I don't have any great answers right now," Petrino told Hawgs Illustrated's Clay Henry. "But the day will come when we whip their butts like that and we are the ones running up the score."
While it certainly may take some time, the first post-Texas step toward that came on Tuesday when the Razorbacks hit the practice field in advance of Saturday's 11:30 a.m. game with visiting Florida.
"They came out and actually practiced hard today," Petrino said. "There was a lot of energy. I don't think it has been the effort. We have just got to keep grinding and keep working hard and keep believing in what we believe in. I think that is the biggest thing.
"We talked to them today about coming out here with a great attitude and great energy," Petrino added, "and I thought they responded and did a great job with it."
Starting quarterback Casey Dick went as far as to label it fantastic.
"We had a fantastic practice," Dick said. "We came out and executed well."
The Razorback offense has only scored two touchdowns total in the last two losses to No. 2 Alabama (49-14) and No. 5 Texas, where the lone score came via the defense.
The offense gave up 8 sacks last weekend and the entire team has shown its youth (16 true freshmen have played) in the past two games.
"I think we are improving, but we have got to take bigger steps of improvement because of who we are playing against," Petrino said. "I think when you are playing with that many true freshmen, that many young guys – and not many people do that – they have got to grow up fast and we have got to start showing bigger strides.
"I think if each week we can just keep improving, we can get ourselves on a roll here pretty quick, pull it together and get a bunch of wins," Petrino added.
That won't be easy this week what with the Gators coming in off a 31-30 loss at home to Ole Miss.
For all the talk about their high-powered offense, the Florida defense is the third-best unit in the SEC right now.
"They are real fast, they like to pressure, they are almost 50 percent pressure, they've got a great linebacker (Brandon Spikes), they run around and they play the game the way it is supposed to be played," Petrino said. "They play hard and they look like they enjoy playing football. It is going to be a great challenge and we just have to get ready and get after them."
Although Ole Miss put up 31 points, Petrino didn't think it was a matter of the Rebels exposing Florida's defense.
"I don't really think they exposed them badly," Petrino said. "They got a couple of big turnovers with great field position and hit a go route down the sideline on a blown coverage in cover two. They had a nice screen play and they hit a run opposite a blitz. Their defense must have played real good because they had short field, didn't have many yards (325) but put up points. They made plays when they had to, but it wasn't like they really rip Florida up."
Arkansas has given up 17 sacks and has forced only 2 turnovers while giving its foes 9 – including 6 via interceptions – three that have gone the other way for touchdowns.
"Just don't throw it to the other team," Petrino said. "That's the best way to do it. We have got to run the right routes, have great protection and the quarterback has to throw it to our team. That's the best way to stop that."
Petrino did not want to lay the blame solely at the feet of the offensive line.
"I think it is not just them, it all 11 guys all of the time," Petrino said. "Sometimes certain people take the blame, but it is all of us. We all have to get out here and again we all just have to keep believing in what we are doing. I think that is the biggest thing. It is a good package and we have got to just keep working hard at it and keep grinding. There is not magic answer. The only answer is to keep working hard and keep pounding it and try to come out here and keep getting better every day."
Dick has watched as 2 of his 4 interceptions have gone back for touchdowns and true freshmen backup Tyler Wilson had his second career interception taken to the house last week at Texas.
"It's tough, but that is part of the game and that is the way it goes sometimes," Dick said. "You have got to be able to learn on the run and move around and make plays. You have to move on to the next play. We'll get some things fixed, keep going forward."
Petrino did note that the Razorbacks were putting a lot of emphasis as well on a running game that had just 11 total yards last week with the sack yardage factored in.
"We have tried to get a little package with some things that we think we can execute," Petrino said. "We worked on it real hard today, going a couple of extra periods in practice. That is something that we definitely need to work on."
Falling behind early has not helped according to Petrino, who did get to welcome back injured wideout Lucas Miller back to practice after missing a week.
"I think that has been part of it," Petrino said. "I think some of it is not breaking the long ones a couple times when we had the chance and sometimes just not executing with all 11 guys on a certain play. When you fall behind like that, it is hard to keep running it."
Running backs coach Tim Horton is hoping that the addition of former defenders Jermaine Love and Van Stumon to fullback last week will serve as a catalyst for an improved running game.
It's hoped there won't be anymore short yardages situations in which the Razorbacks can't get the ball into the end zone like there was against Alabama.
"I think they have really put the team first in making the move for us," Horton said. "That (Alabama game) was probably one of the biggest reasons for the switch. It gives us more punch and we can be more physical. Hopefully if we get in those situations again we will be able to punch it in. Stumon is like 270 pounds so that gives us a good presence to get behind."
Love had a nice catch during Tuesday's practice, something he would love to do in a game.
"I've got good hands and I trying to get like (former Razorback fullback and current Denver Bronco) Peyton (Hillis)," Love said. "It's definitely a change because I love defense, but I also love offense and I played offense in high school. It's all good. The biggest thing is just learning the plays and the counts."
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