Bobby Petrino: Hogs must score

Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino knows the challenge will be to match Tulsa's high-octane offense this week when the Golden Hurricane visits the Hogs.

Bobby Petrino didn't need to see Tulsa's victory over Central Florida on Sunday night. He'd seen enough video earlier in the day to understand the situation Arkansas faces this week with the high-powered Golden Hurricane coming to Fayetteville.

"We will have to score points to win," Petrino said. "We are going to have to score some points."

Petrino said Sunday night's Tulsa victory confirmed what he already knew.

"They can score a lot of points and I didn't need to see the game because I'd seen a lot of video earlier in the day," Petrino said. "They play at a fast tempo and they make a lot of big plays. The quarterback can throw deep and the receivers can go make the catch.

"They are very fast and they will put pressure on us to get lined up right."

The Hogs may be trying to get lined up right with new players. They are beat up on both sides of the ball, but particularly at safety where Tulsa's offense puts pressure on a defense. The Hogs lost free safety Elton Ford for the season with a neck injury against Ole Miss.

The candidates to take Ford's spot are Matt Harris, Rashaad Johnson and true freshman Tramain Thomas. Thomas has played cornerback mostly this year, but will get some time at free safety this week in practice. Dallas Washington, the starter at strong safety, also could play strong safety if needed.

Johnson made some plays against Ole Miss, but he also made an assignment error that turned loose a receiver on a touchdown play, Petrino said.

There are several other players on the injury list.

Defensively, end Adrian Davis sustained a knee injury. He's questionable for the Tulsa game. Petrino said he was responding to treatment on Sunday and Monday, but his status for the game was still up in the air.

Offensively, the Hogs are battered in the line where guard Grant Cook (knee sprain) is out this week and tackle Ray Dominguez (ankle) is questionable. Both were injured against Ole Miss. Cook will miss at least one week. DeMarcus Love, the starter there earlier this year before an ankle injury, will take Cook's spot. Michael Aguirre and Grant Freeman will compete for the tackle spot.

"We are at least two men down for this week," Petrino said, noting Ford and Cook. "The others, we'll have to see. Davis was better the last two days."

Petrino said the team graded high for effort against Ole Miss, a 23-21 loss, but there were still some key mistakes that cost the Hogs. He said missed opportunities in the first half "came back to haunt us at the end."

The key play at the end was an offensive pass interference penalty against London Crawford which cost the Hogs a long completion for a possible winning field goal. Petrino declined to discuss the penalty or what he reported to the SEC office in his weekly evaluation.

"You guys are trying to get me in trouble," he said. "We sent in our evaluation, the thing we do every week.

"Sometimes in life you can't say what you'd like to say. I'm right there, right now."

Bobby Petrino said the passing game improved against Ole Miss, but he knows it will need to take another step up against Tulsa and the Golden Hurricane's 3-3-5 scheme featuring multiple pressure fronts. It's a system Petrino and his offensive staff faced when they were at Louisville against West Virginia.

"They are a little unique in what we have seen," Petrino said. "They blitz with a different guy almost every play. They dog some -- and that's with one extra linebacker and they blitz some -- and that's with two more linebackers. And, it's usually someone coming from a different spot each time.

"We know this style real well. Their head coach is from West Virginia. We prepared for this (defense) an entire year. We watched West Virginia stuff that year all summer."

It will make for some quick decisions by the offensive line, backs and quarterbacks in protection.

"You must be disciplined in your protection," Petrino said. "They play a three-man front and the fourth man in the rush will be coming from a different place. If they blitz, if you are the running back, you have to know where the unaccounted for man is coming, where the uncovered guard is and know the protections.

"What you see with Tulsa is that they have a hard rush and they are very good at assignments and technique in the rush. There are some teams that blitz, but they don't rush that hard. They do. They are coming hard."

Petrino said the coaching staff watched the Tulsa game on ESPN after watching video throughout the day.

"The defensive staff watchd it on the TV," he said. "We wanted to give them an idea of what they did as far as tempo and substitutions (in real time). The (coaches on) offense watched some of the game on TV, then went back to the video."

Petrino was asked if Michael Smith, who had 19 rushes for 129 yards against Ole Miss, would continue to get a heavy load against Tulsa.

"We'd like to get Michael about 20 touches between run and pass and I thought we did take a step forward by getting D. J. Williams 10 catches," Petrino said. "This week, I think our receivers are going to have more opportunities."

Michael Smith knows he'll have to pick up blitzes.

"They blitz almost every down," he said. "We will be prepared for that. We'll have to study a lot more film to know all of their blitzs, but we will get that done."

Defensively, the speed of the Tulsa offense will be a challenge.

"We'll have to do a good job of recognizing their formations and their motion," Petrino said. "They play fast. And, they do a good job of spreading you out and attacking your seams. We have to limit their big plays. They like to run the ball and they do a good job of blocking you. The key is to stop the run and not allow them to do both (run and throw). They pop seams and break some long runs."

Petrino was asked if some of the Tulsa scheme reminds him of what he wants to do on offense.

"We want to play at a fast tempo, but they don't huddle," he said. "They have more mis-direction. They have called quarterback runs and reads. There is some carry-over (from the Ole Miss Wildcat formation), but the no huddle and the tempo is different."

Concerning the Ole Miss game, Petrino said the Hogs "played with great effort" and continue to show improvement.

"We need to learn how to win a close game," he said. "We were battling and were in the game. Our players tried to do what we are coaching them. They worked and tried to execute. We just left some opportunities out there and at the end it came back to haunt us."

Petrino expects it to be an emotional game for the Arkansas seniors playing their final game in Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

"This bunch of seniors have worked hard to keep this team together," he said. "It will be their last time to take that field. I know they will be emotional feelings invovled.

"Our seniors have done a nice job. All of them. Obviously, you recognize some of them out there, guys like Jonathan Luigs. But some of them who haven't played much have done a nice job (of leadership), too. Elston Forte comes to mind. He's been a very good leader. He's been a nice positive."

Senior safety Dallas Washington knows it will be emotional.

"This will be my last time and I want it to be a good game," he said. "I think this is going to be a fun game. Tulsa is a team that might throw a lot more passes. That's kinda fun to see. It will be an opportunity for the defensive backs to see more passes.

"There is some pressure. They run the no-huddle. Mentally, that puts pressure to be in the right spots. As an older player, I have to help our other players get lined up right. We'll just have to study their tendencies and watch a lot more film this week. We know they are well coached.

"This is going to be a fun game. It's a chance to have some fun and go out with a good game."

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