Petrino Blows Off Steam, Then Cracks Jokes

FAYETTEVILLE — Standing in front of a packed ballroom, Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino entertained the crowd on Friday with a few jokes and some kind words about his football team.

But Petrino wasn't in such a playful mood only a few hours earlier, and he wasn't nearly as fond of his team during a sloppy practice on Friday morning.

"I'm a little hoarse today," Petrino said in his opening remarks at the Arkansas Razorback Football Kickoff Luncheon inside the Northwest Arkansas Convention Center. "There's 105 players out there that are responsible for that."

Petrino's line drew laughter from the approximately 950 fans who attended the luncheon, but his players seated throughout the room knew he wasn't joking.

Petrino seemed to take turns yelling at his players and assistant coaches during the morning practice, which didn't go as smoothly as he had hoped.

Arkansas quarterbacks Ryan Mallett and Tyler Wilson got an earful. Quarterbacks coach Garrick McGee and offensive line coach Mike Summers also heard it from Petrino. And at one point, tight end Ben Cleveland was told to leave the practice field.

But by the time the convention center filled up Friday afternoon with hundreds of Razorbacks fans dressed in red and white, the mood around the team had changed.

Arkansas cornerback Isaac Madison showed off his best Petrino impersonation for the crowd. Defensive end Damario Ambrose belted out a few lines from a song.

And Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long, sporting a No. 7 Razorback jersey and helmet, threw a short pass to tight end D.J. Williams, who was sitting in the crowd.

"It was a little wobbly, but it was a short pass. It got there," said Long, who wore the No. 7 as a quarterback at Ohio Wesleyan. "I threw it to a good receiver."

Coincidentally, Williams returned to practice Friday and worked with the first-team offense after missing the past few days because of an ankle injury.

While offensive tackle DeMarcus Love came back from a left knee injury to take part in the practice, junior Ray Dominguez — the other tackle on the front line — continued to be sidelined with an apparent ankle injury.

The Razorbacks will hold a scrimmage during a practice that's scheduled to start at 8:50 a.m today. But for 90 minutes on Friday, Petrino was able to relax a bit and cut loose.

"When you do these (luncheons) for the first time and with this economy, we really didn't know what to expect," said Long, adding that it was Petrino's idea to have a kickoff luncheon with fans. "We didn't know what to expect, but I knew the support would be strong because we have such passionate fans."

Long said he'd like to make the kickoff luncheon an annual event.

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