An unusually candid Razorback coach seemed relaxed as his team finished preparations for Eastern Michigan in a 90-minute workout indoors as heavy rains moved into Northwest Arkansas.
Petrino said Adams – who has missed the last three games after suffering a stroke – was cleared by doctors at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock on Wednesday.
"I think he'll play in the game unless something changes in the pregame," Petrino said. "He'll have the ability to play. It will be on a limited number of reps simply because he hasn't had the same conditioning as everyone else the last three weeks, although he has been running with the training staff the last two weeks. We're excited about that. Obviously it's a nice addition to our playmakers."
Petrino said doctors believe they know what the cause was for Adams' stroke but declined to say more than that.
"That's from the doctors," Petrino said, "but then we had to see how he does because he hasn't practiced in so long. How does he do after Wednesday? How does he do after he practices today? And what I mean by that is evaluating how his legs are, how his conditioning is.
"But his legs look fresh and he looks fast out there."
Adams will return to a team hungry to avenge a pair of bitter defeats, most recently to the hands of Ole Miss last weekend. Petrino said the team has had a good attitude throughout the week and is ready to hit the field again.
"I think everyone is still a little upset, still has a little bit of a chip on their shoulder, still a little angry about the way we performed the last time out, but that's OK and I think we should be a little bit," Petrino said. "I think we've graded every play on effort and we're going to start the guys that gave the best effort in practice."
Petrino said that means you'll probably see some different starters Saturday, but coaches won't know who those will be until Thursday's practice is graded.
Eastern Michigan is 0-7 on the season and is coming off a loss to previously winless Ball State.
"We've kind of cut back on the number of reps we've had in practice," Petrino said of going against a less physical opponent. "We've given the twos more work this week in practice. We've tried to shorten up our meetings a little bit and come back from the long grind that we've had, and really try to refresh and go into the game Saturday with a fresh mind and fresh body."
The back-ups will be especially important in the Razorback secondary. Ramon Broadway (hamstring) will miss the game and Rudell Crim (hip pointer) has been banged up all week. Petrino said Thursday cornerback Andru Stewart will also miss the game after having missed practice all week to attend study hall.
On the other side of the ball, Petrino said Arkansas won't stray from striving for balance despite the Eagles' porous numbers against the run.
"The games we've won we've been pretty balanced and gotten close to having the type of run-pass ratio that you want," Petrino said. "We plan on going in and trying to execute our offense. It is important that we establish the run game and get confidence, and come out of gates running the ball well.
|Photo by: Marc F. Henning|
|Petrino said Ryan Mallett has bounced back well from a bad performance at Ole Miss.|
How is Ryan Mallett after completing a combined 24-of-61 passes in the two-game losing streak?
"He's done a good job," Petrino said. "Ryan's a great competitor and that's one of his great assets and one of his worst enemies all combined. He's got to be able to stay calm and collected during the game when things aren't going well. But he comes to practice and he prepares hard, and he wants to do well.
"When we execute it's because all 11 of us do it on offense. The quarterback always takes a lot of the blame and some of it is his, and some of it isn't."