Tuesday Grid Update, 11/17

Willy Robinson was back with the defense. And, Ryan Mallett's draft status came up for the first time in the post-practice interviews.

Ryan Mallett's status for next year was addressed by two offensive coaches after practice Tuesday. Sort of.

Mallett has been mentiioned in plenty of mock drafts over the last few weeks, including one by CBS Sportsline this week that put the Arkansas quarterback as the No. 1 rated prospect at his position.

"He needs to be here another year," said Paul Petrino, offensive coordinator and wide receiver coach.

"He wants to be here and keep getting better. We can talk about it this time next year."

Quarterback coach Garrick McGee said, "To be honest, the only thing I am focused on is Mississippi State's defense. That's the same for him. Mississippi State does enough on the defense to keep us busy. We are trying to get prepared for all of their different looks. That's what Ryan is thinking about right now."

The question was phrased again, but McGee had a similar response. He said, "I'm just busy looking at Mississippi State's defense. I wasn't aware of (the CBS Sportsline report). I don't have time to look at that stuff. About all I can tell you on that is that Spencer Tillman (of CBS) is one of my best friends. Other than that, I don't know anything about that."

The news out of practice was all good. Defensive coordinator Willy Robinson, who was hospitalized on Friday and missed the Troy game, was front and center again, running the defensive practice.

"Willy is happy to be back," Paul Petrino said. "He got the game ball today and that made him happy. It's great to have him back."

McGee said, "He was his same jokester self. I went into the defensive film room and visited with him awhile. Willy's my boy and I wanted to check on him and visit. He's fine."

There was plenty of talk after practice about Mississippi State, too.

"We had a good practice," Petrino said. "We had a couple of silly mistakes and we'll have to get better focus the next two days. But it was good energy, a good day.

"Mississippi State is very different as far as the defense we'll see. They do some unorthodox things, especially in the secondary. They do some things we just don't see. We have to work hard to study what they do and understand it.

"What we'll have to do is make sure we just excecute what we do against them. We hope we can take advantage of some things they do.

"Not many teams have tried to pass against them. But they do some things we will try to go after. There are times there cornerbacks are inside and they turn their back. You just don't see that.

"Most teams have just tried to run the ball. So what happens is Mississippi State ends up in a nine-man front. We will want to make sure they have to defend the entire field."

McGee noted the MSU front, too.

"They just do so much to give you different looks that it makes you have to be careful with protections," McGee said. "They will be in three-man and four-man looks. They just are going to change and do things we haven't seen. It's not things that I've seen before."

Petrino likes the development he's seen in the Arkansas offense over the last four games.

"We are growing into what we want," he said. "One of the bright spot has been our third and short. We have converted almost all of them the last four games. A lot of things have been improving, but that's been important."

Mallett continues to improve.

"I think the main thing, he's had energy the last few games," McGee said. "I think he was worn down by the grind when we went to Oxford. He's gotten his energy back since that game.

"I think where you see the energy is not just on the field, but in the meeting room. I'm proud of the way he's prepared and learned our plan eah week. Then, he's obviously gone out and performed at a high level."

The Hogs seemed to be healthier Tuesday. Linebacker Wendel Davis, out last week, returned to practicde and worked with the first group. Cornerback Andru Stewart worked out, but donned a yellow no-contact jersey. London Crawford sustained a sternum bruise on the first play against Troy, but he practiced Tuesday.

Hawgs Daily Top Stories