The University of Arkansas football coaches had a little get-together away from the office this week, but it was not a vacation.
It was a working retreat at an undisclosed location.
"It was Monday and Tuesday and it was great for me because there were no interruptions," Razorback head coach Bobby Petrino said on Thursday. "We were able to go and sit in the meeting room. We started at 8 o'clock in the morning and went until 4. It was great and it was a lot about the coaches going through their drill books and drill tapes and just getting back and talking about the techniques we are going to do. We covered a couple of other issues, but it was good and I enjoyed it."
Petrino wanted to have one before his first season at the UA, but plans didn't come together.
"We were trying to get it done last year and it was just kind of a situation that I didn't know where to go," Petrino said. "We tried to do it here, but the problem here is there is always somebody knocking on the door and you get called out. It was a lot of fun for me to be able to go in and sit straight through with no interruptions."
New Arkansas special teams coordinator John L. Smith – Petrino's former boss – agreed retreats can certainly be beneficial to a staff.
"I definitely agree with Coach," Coach Smith said said. "Anytime you can get together like this, go, sit down – it's basically turns into clinicing each other – which we give you the real clinic stuff instead of where you take the clinics if that makes sense.
"It's all the things we are going to do as far as our coaching and then you learn," Smith added. "You criticize, you critique each other – it does nothing but all better coaches.
Defensive coordinator Willy Robinson chimed in on the subject.
"We have always enjoyed it wherever we have been because it gives you the ability to once again stand up in front of a room and present things like you are going to present them to the players," Robinson said. "Not only with the words, but also with the action that you see on film.
"You have the ability to give it one more time and you are always going to get better the more reps you take," Robinson said. "The input that we get back from the offensive side of the ball and the film – when they clinic us – only helps us to kind of get an idea of what to look for. The technique, the coverages. Not so much the Xs and Os and it was the coverages. And vice-versa, I think the offense got the same from us."
Robinson said it also serves as a last-minute check list.
"As hard as we work and as long as we work, I think the other thing that occurred there for us was that there was one more stone that needed to be turned," Robinson continued . "We forgot one little thing that is maybe is going to finite it a little bit clearer. It was open to discussion after you presented it."
Offensive coordinator Paul Petrino talked about how he tries to make sure the staff's mantra of Feed the Studs happens not only in games, but in practices as well.
"Really it changes as you are scripting practice," Paul Petrino said. "For example, we have 48 plays that are scripted in scale and I will make little marks on every fourth play where I am going to try and get the ball to D.J. (Williams), where I am going try and get the ball to Joe Adams, so it doesn't always work out because of the defense they are in, but you try to feed the studs throughout practice as much as you do once the game comes.
"That goes back to the more they show us on tape what they can do well, that gives you a bigger menu on how you are going to feed them," Petrino added. "The bigger they can make the menu, it helps us feed the studs."
Bobby Petrino talked about how he didn't think anybody would overlook his team this season and how that's just not possible in the SEC anyway.
"I think the hardest thing in this conference is to look for somebody," Petrino said. "You really have to play one game at a time. I think we did as a football team gain respect toward the end of the season last year. We got off to a real tough start, but our football team got better and better and our players learned how to play with passion and play hard and compete.
"We should be a lot better this year with the experience there," Petrino added. "They have a much better understanding of what we want and expect from them as far as how we are going to practice, how we are going to prepare, what the schemes are that we use…We now know them, too. We know whether we need to cut back, whether we can ask more of them. I think that is how you get better – the knowledge and experience of knowing each other."
He noted the staff was ready to get going.
"What we are anxious to do is get out there and coach, get out there and evaluate and continue to work hard as coming together as a team," Petrino said.
Petrino was also asked about wideout Reggie Fish's rap video about the team that is making the rounds.
Petrino deadpanned that he doesn't really listen to a lot of rap.
"They (his weight room staff) said that he cut a song in Little Rock and that it was pretty good," Petrino said. "That's all I know about it."
Another new development over the summer was the installation of new field turf at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
"We're excited about it and it looks great," Petrino said. "It is going to be a very good surface for us and allows us to practice there when we need to or want to. I haven't really decided yet how we will use it. We have two good practice fields and the indoor so we will kind of play it day-by-day.
"It is probably 10 degrees hotter on that surface than it is on a natural grass surface so some of that will play into it, too, when we have two-a-days," Petrino said.
He does have some plans that should excite the players.
"The other thing that I think will be fun is that maybe we will have a couple of night practices where you get out under the lights and get a little cooler air," Petrino said. "The players always seem to change their mood a little bit when you turn the lights on.
"It is going to be a definite addition for us to be able to use it in practice – to be able to perfect our passing game and our precision," Petrino said. "You don't have to worry about slipping when it rains like it is today because it is better than when it is not raining."
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