Chalk it up to knowing how to do things better than year two.
"I like their attitude," Petrino said of his team. "I really liked the way they prepared for this scrimmage – the way we wanted to be in the training room, the locker room, the way they came out and were focused and concentration in the warm-ups and the practice prior to scrimmage. I was very impressed. We have taken a big stride there in knowing how to prepare and get ready for scrimmage."
There were certainly a lot of things for the coach to get excited about, but also enough miscues to keep him up at night.
Things like quarterbacks Ryan Mallett (30-for-42, 326 yards passing, 5 TDs) and Tyler Wilson (17-of-20, 189 yards, 1 TD) being sharp through the air, but both also showing problem areas as well.
"As far as the quarterbacks go, I think Ryan Mallett did a good job of completing passes and knowing where to go for the most part," Petrino said. "The thing he has to improve on is not taking sacks and not taking negative plays. He has got to know when to throw the ball away. He is not a scrambler and a running quarterback so he has to be able to throw the ball away and get us to 2nd-and-10. We had too many seconds and extra longs, which I don't like.
"Tyler (Wilson) again shows how well he can throw the ball," Petrino continued. " He has to be able to execute the offense and do the different things with the running game and not fumble snaps. He needs to keep improving on that part."
The receivers had some drops, but also some standouts with Reggie Fish (5 catches, 123 yards), Jarius Wright (5 catches for 86 yards and 1 touchdown), Joe Adams (7 for 55), Greg Childs (4 for 36) and London Crawford (3 for 30) heading up a list of 19 different players that hauled in a reception.
"We saw guys that could make plays. Jarius Wright has the speed and Joe (Adams) can really run with the ball," Petrino said. "The more we get him the ball, the more he can run with it. I thought (Greg) Childs stood out and had a lot of third down conversions. We had a lot of third down conversions with Childs and I thought he ran hard with the ball.
"I think London got a little dinged up," Petrino said. "I am not sure exactly what is wrong with him."
That group was without Lucas Miller, one of its more productive guys.
"We have got a nice receiving corp," Petrino said. "It will be nice to get Lucas back. He actually could have went today, but he didn't deserve to get to scrimmage because he missed some practices."
Then there was the defense, getting torched against the pass, but holding up well against the run – especially after a sub-par effort during Wednesday's scrimmage.
"It was good to get out there and get some live work," Petrino said. "I thought I've see a lot of improvement from the defense as far as how we were flying around and making plays. You have to watch the video to really evaluate the individuals, but the speed they were playing with I thought was very good."
He did see a lot of senior linebacker Wendel Davis making plays while Matt Harris was credited with leading the tackle chart with 13.
Linebacker Jelani Smith had two sacks with defensive ends Caleb Evans and DeMario Ambrose, cornerbacks Ramon Broadway and Greg Gatson each adding one.
Seth Armbrust had the only interception of the day off walk-on quarterback Nick Petrino while the defense forced three fumbles, recovering one that Jerry Franklin would have taken 56 yards for a score had the whistle not blown.
"Number 10 (Davis) made a lot of tackles," Petrino said. "I think he came back and made a lot of tackles. I thought our defensive ends put some pressure on the quarterbacks. We have to have better discipline by our rush guys inside. They are going out of their lanes and that is why you could see the quarterbacks running down the field anytime they wanted to."
Arkansas did see at least one injury during the scrimmage with cornerback Isaac Madison exiting early with an apparent ACL injury.
Certainly one talked about area was the tailbacks, which includes a lengthy line of guys.
Starter Michael Smith was slated for just one series and displayed his skills and then was followed by Dennis Johnson, Ronnie Wingo, Broderick Green, Knile Davis and De'Anthony Curtis all getting reps before walk-on Ronald Watkins got some snaps.
Johnson had 8 catches for 81 yards – taking a screen pass 25 yards for a score - to go along with 12 carries for 31 yards.
"We played a lot of running backs,' Petrino said. "Initially, you see Dennis Johnson stand out. I thought he played fast and made some plays.
The plan for Michael Smith (3 carries, 9 yards) was to take one series and get him out so we got that accomplished," Petrino said. "He made one nice run and made some yards after contact.
Green (12 carries, 45 yards, 2 TDs) was stymied early on in short yardage situations with just 14 yards on his first six carries before having more success against a wilting defense late.
"I thought Broderick Green showed some power," Petrino said. "We ran him when he was tired and gave him the ball about five, six, seven times in a row, which was good to see because that's when you have to wear the defense down. I was happy about that."
Petrino evaluated the progress of his two true freshman tailbacks – Knile Davis (5 carries for 26 yards) and Ronnie Wingo (12 carries, 31 yards and 4 catches for 33 yards and a score).
"Knile is struggling," Petrino said. "You can see he missed the early part of camp. He doesn't really know all of his assignments and tracks. He is just stuggling and is behind everybody else.
"Ronnie Wingo, Jr., showed what he can do in the open field," Petrino said. "He's explosive and a very good athlete who does a nice job cutting."
The fact that the running backs caught so many passes was not by design.
"That is part of our progression," Petrino said. "But a couple of them were passes to the backs because they missed their protection, which we don't like. They missed their protection and the quarterback kind of threw it hot to them, which is one of the quarterbacks' rules – if the back misses protection, give him the ball. Unfortunately we had about three or four of them out there today and we can't have that.
"The passing game is designed to get the ball down the field," Petrino added, "but if the running backs if they get where they belong and the secondary drops deep, we are going to check it down and get it in their hands and it will be their opportunity to make a play. We did see some good plays out in the open after they caught the ball."
He wasn't ready to give out a grade on the offensive and defensive lines, but was upset at some fumbled snaps and promised some extra conditioning when the squad returns to practice on Monday.
"There are some problems out there," Petrino said. "We haven't had them up until this time, but once it gets live, once the centers get tired it happens. The quarterbacks and centers are going to get extra chances in practice in Monday to get in better condition. That is something we are not going to stand for."
One was a bad shotgun snap that brought up a 2nd and 22.
"I was really disappointed in the one in shotgun," Petrino said, "because we haven't had that at all. Some of it is the quarterbacks pulling out, Ryan pulls out sometimes and sometimes the center gets tired and doesn't get the ball up like they need to."
Alex Tejada was 4-of-5 on field goals with makes from 49, 38, 36 and 27 a miss from 28 and 6-of-6 on PATs.
The one miss was foremost in Petrino's mind.
"You can't miss the first one," Petrino said. "He came back and I thought that was a good thing, but you can't miss an easy chip shot. Some of that was the snap, the snap was offline, but there really is no excuse from that far. You have to kick it through the uprights."
Arkansas will not practice on the field again until another two-a-day on Monday. But the Razorbacks won't truly have the day off.
"They don't get the whole day off, we just don't have practice," Petrino said. "We have some weight lifting to do and to watch the video and then get ready for Monday's practice. They'll get the break from getting out in the sun and running around on the field. They've got to do a good job from here until then getting with the trainers and taking care of their body. They need to understand this is what the rest is for so they can get their body ready to practice Monday."