Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino thinks the Auburn victory validates all the hard work the coaches and players have put in over the last few months, but he reminded everyone Monday that the right approach is still to "take it one game at a time."
Petrino said the 25-22 decision at Auburn was "obviously a good win. We studied hard and prepared well for the game. We didn't do everything right, but we had a very good effort. We competed and covered for each other. The defense covered for the offense. The offense covered for the special teams. We played together and the players feel good about the game."
The head coach said winning made for a good start to the week.
"It's easier for everyone," he said. "It's good for the coaches, the coaches wives ... it tells us that all our hard work pays off. Now we have to do a great job of getting our players to take it one game at a time and do a great job of handling success.
Still, there is much room for improvement. Petrino said he wants to make sure players prepare the same way for a trip to play at Kentucky. The key is to continue to practice well each week.
"Our players have learned the way to practice, prepare and take that to the game," he said. "We've got to continue to do that."
It's an interesting week for Petrino and some of his coaches. Some have Louisville ties and at least one has Kentucky ties. Offensive line coach Mike Summers is a native of Lexington and served three seasons as a graduate assistant at UK. He's married to the daughter of former UK basketball coach Joe B. Hall.
The Summers -- Mike and wife Kathy -- may have some Kentucky blue in the wardrobe, but Petrino insisted he doesn't.
"I've never really worn blue very much," Petrino laughed at Monday's media session.
Asked about thoughts on playing against the Wildcats and how he will be treated at Commonwealth Stadium, Petrino said, "I think they like me there. We'll find out." Petrino was 4-0 against the Wildcats during his Louisville stint.
The Hogs earned some honors with their victory over Auburn. Running back Michael Smith and defensive end Adrian Davis were both named SEC players of the week on their respective side of the football.
Smith rushed 35 times for 176 yards. He also had two catches for 46 yards. Davis had three sacks, four total tackles and a pass interception despite not starting the game.
Smith said he was feeling a little sore on Monday after a not-so-bad Sunday.
"I really thought I'd feel it Sunday, but I didn't," he said of his beat-up body. "Then, when I got out (of bed) this morning, I felt like I'd been hit by a truck."
Smith said he was better later in the day after extensive work in the training room, including ice baths, soft tissue massage and some stretching for flexibility.
"I do a lot of work to get my body over the soreness," he said. "Coach Petrino, ever since he got here, has stressed work that gets you ready for the physical nature of the game. So we are prepared for this."
He said he'd never had a 35-carry night in high school.
"It didn't take that long to get it done in high school," he said. "So this was new to me."
Both Petrino and Smith credited a fine performance by the rest of the offense for his big night against Auburn. It was the best blocking effort by the offensive line, tight ends and wide receivers, both said.
"It was a great performance by Michael, but as an offense, we blocked better," Petrino said. "Our offensive linemen cut down the back side all night. The wide receivers blocked better. The tight ends did very well, too.
"The offensive line did a nice job of controlling the line of scrimmage. All week we talked about getting Auburn's front off their feet. We had a lot of knockdowns in the game. Auburn has a tremendous defense, very fast. They are physical and fast. Our guys did a good job of blocking them."
Defensively, Petrino was pleased with the front. He said Davis had a fine fourth quarter. He did not start the game after a knee bruise limited his practice.
"Demario Ambrose got most of the snaps in practice, so that's why (Davis) didn't start," Petrino said. "Then, we weren't on the field much in the first half. Auburn had only 22 snaps. So Davis was fresh in the fourth quarter. He really rushed the passer well. He had three sacks, an interception and forced a fumble. He really made a lot of plays in the end.
"Our entire front has improved on defense. We are playing better technique and fundamentals. We've improved and we are stopping the run better. We are keeping our shoulders square to the line of scrimmage.
"We are stopping the run and we did a much better job of getting after the quarterback -- putting a clock on the quarterback with our rush.
"Our linebackers -- Wendel Davis, Jerry Franklin and Freddy Burton -- make a nice group. We've improved that area since we've gotten into the SEC and our safeties are tackling better. We've improved in that area."
Petrino wasn't pleased with all areas, especially giving up a kickoff return for a touchdown.
"We made critical mistakes on the kickoff and we'd done pretty well in that area," he said. "We have to get guys in the right spot and can't have them jumping out of the way on blocks. That team had done well with that."
Several players were part of the interview session. Smith and quarterback Casey Dick maintained a low-key approach for the Wildcats, but it was obvious that cornerback Ramon Broadway and defensive tackle Zach Stadther were really excited over their first SEC triumph.
Dick called it a "key victory," and noted that he expects coaches to keep players focused on the task at hand.
However, Broadway said he thinks the Hogs are about to "get on a roll" similar to the winning streak that hit after the blowout loss to Southern Cal to open the 2006 season.
"We are fixing to roll and we've all talked about it," Broadway said. "We heard the scores from Saturday night and we all have the same mentality of the loss to open the season two years ago. We know we have a chance to win the rest of our games. We are fixing to get this rolling and try to win out."
Stadther, a true freshman, said the Hogs "got a lot better" against Auburn on defense. He noted that the defense allowed only 13 points.
"We are going to try to do the same thing this week we did to Auburn," he said. "I'd hate to be Kentucky this Saturday."
Bobby Petrino: One Game at a Time
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