The Razorbacks went through a practice that lasted a longer-than-usual 27 five-minute periods in preparation for this weekend's season-opener with Missouri State in Little Rock. Ready to capitalize on their last game nearly nine months ago, focus was good from the Arkansas players.
"It was a good hard Tuesday practice," Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said. "That's what you expect; go out and work hard, and grind and be physical. We had a good inside run drill and a good play-action run drill.
"I think we're healthy for the most part and everyone is eager for the game to get here."
Players echoed their coach's sentiments.
"Everybody has a different bounce in their step," sophomore receiver Joe Adams said. "It's game week and all the stuff we went through from the winter through this summer was preparing us for this week so we all came out and gave our best effort."
Adams appeared to be full-speed Tuesday after sustaining a tweaked right hamstring last week that kept him out of nearly a week of practice. Petrino said he was happy with Adams' recovery, noting he looked better Tuesday than the day before. There is still room for improvement, though.
"I thought he changed directions and showed he has his quickness back," Petrino said. "He caught the ball well. His hands are doing a good job. I thought he was a little more fresh than everybody else because he basically had a week off.
"I'm still a little worried about the deep ball and him striding to go get that while it's in the air. He's got to show a better ability to do that by Thursday and show he's ready to go."
Petrino talked about the Razorbacks' Friday scrimmage in which the coaches were as complimentary of the defense as any point in Petrino's two-year tenure.
One player that stood out to the head coach was free safety Matt Harris, who was listed as starter on the Hogs' two-deep depth chart released Monday. Harris recorded 10 solo tackles in the scrimmage.
"Matt came out last Friday and ran all around the field," Petrino said. "He had a ton of tackles, played real hard and real physical. I was impressed with him."
Petrino said the defensive unit has shown a vast amount of improvement since finishing near the bottom of the SEC in every statistical category in 2008. That has happened by putting in hard work and performing better as a team.
"They've learned how to play with better effort and run full-speed to the ball every play," Petrino said. "And then experience; understanding their position better and understanding what I'm supposed to do with my hands, first-step.
"They also understand offensive philosophies better and what the offense is going to do. We've gotten better, there's no doubt about it. It's yet to be seen how much better."
That doesn't mean the defense doesn't have work to do. Petrino said he wasn't pleased with the Razorbacks' secondary, but as a head coach he said "you're never pleased."
"We've still got a long way to go," Petrino said. "I like our attitude and I like our effort, but we have a long ways to go before we put it all together."
In the middle of the defense, Arkansas linebackers coach Reggie Johnson said he was happy with competition, noting two of the three starting positions have yet to be filled, with Jerry Franklin and true freshman Terrell Williams battling for starting the starting will linebacker spot, while Franklin and Wendel Davis continue to work at middle linebacker.
"Every day is a competition," Johnson said. "We're going to come back tomorrow and the're s probably going to be some movement tomorrow. It's all about competition and we don't want guys to feel comfortable. We want them to think that this is my spot. We don't want complacency so we always want guys striving to get better.
"It's amazing when they see the depth chart and they're taking reps with the twos. It's amazing how motivated they can get. It's a daily thing. So we've going to keep evaluating until the last possible minute; until a guy says I want to be in this spot."
While the depth chart isn't set-in-stone, it offered a glimpse as to which players might redshirt this season. Petrino said those decisions wouldn't be made until the end of the week.
"We're not to the point yet to see exactly who those players are," Petrino said. "We want to get through tomorrow's practice and Thursday's practice. Then there will be some guys that will travel and they'll dress, so let's see if we don't use them in this first game."