It's getting close to show time, offensive coordinator Paul Petrino said after Wednesday's workout. How much improvement will there be from the spring game last year?
"I'm hoping it will be a lot better," Petrino said. "That's what it's all about when you play a game. I hope it's our best performance. You find out about yourself in games. I hope we ring the bell."
Petrino was asked about the improvement made by quarterback Ryan Mallett, but in his answer he was also careful to mention Tyler Wilson, his chief competition.
"I think he's continued to improve," Petrino said. "He's made a lot of big plays for us. He's got to continue to get better in his accuracy, just consistently being accurate, get that completion percentage up higher. I think he's had a good spring, him and Tyler both have really improved and gotten better."
What does Mallett's arm strength mean and what does it that bring to the offense?
"Well, both of them can stretch the field and make the defense play the whole field because they both can throw it vertically and horizontally," Petrino said. "That makes the defense have to play the whole field and gives you more options."
Both Michael Smith and Dennis Johnson particpated in some aspects of practice. Johnson, although he lost a fumble in the team period, went through most all of the drills. Smith sat out the team portion, but looked fast in the individual segments.
"That's a real good sign to see Michael running around like that," Petrino said. "It's good to have them. The more guys we can have, like we've always said, the better the competition will be."
There was concern that there might be soreness from Smith's first practice of the spring Tuesday, but that was not the case.
"Michael works hard in the training room," Petrino said. "He's done a great job rehabbing. The doctor did a great job on him."
Petrino was asked about the progress of D. J. Williams this spring in his quest to become a complete tight end.
"He's done a good job in the blocking aspect, but he has to continue to improve," Petrinon said. "We talk to D. J. about, he has to continue to be a leader for us and be an effort guy and play hard all the time."
Coaches were demanding effort throughout Wednesday's workout. No place was that more evident than some two-on-one drills matching two wide receivers and a defensive back on one side of the field and running backs and linebackers and safeties on the other side.
"That's the physical part of the day that we are going to get from our coaches every day in the spring and the fall," wideout London Crawford said. "I think we are more physical than we were last year. They are going to demand that from us. I like to think I am a physical guy and that part I really like."
Crawford was limping through the team part of the drills. Paul Petrino, his position coach, stayed after him to finish each play.
"I think with London, that's the key, the mental aspect of finishing the long, tough day," Petrino said. "He is a physical guy. We all are going to have some bumps, some owies and some aches at this point. We all have them. You have to push through them. That's the part that London has to keep working on, the mental part at the end. He's doing a better job of that. He's physical enough. He just has to get that mental toughness, too.
"I think we are a tougher team. He's tougher. They all are, compared to this point last year. As a team, the longer you are out here, the more times you've been through these long scrimmages like we had against this spring, the tougher and stronger you become. I think you are going to continue to see that develop."
The Hogs won't practice Thursday. They will practice in what is billed as a fast walk through like a Thursday practice in game week on Friday. They will also practice in front of their lettermen. A reunion of former players is planned for Friday and Saturday, including a golf tournament Friday.
Also see D.J. Williams talk about Wednesday's practice.