Here is the complete text of Bobby Petrino's press conference at the media hotel on Monday afternoon.
Opening comments from Bobby Petrino:
"We're excited to be in Memphis. Fun to be back on the practice field this
morning. Our players came out with a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of energy.
We're a little rusty. We didn't throw the ball and catch the ball like we
we need. Certainly our execution wasn't where it needs to be, but that was
to be expected. That's why we wanted to get a practice in this morning so
we could start our regular routine tomorrow as a normal Tuesday practice
and be a little more physical and more like normally would run a practice
in a game week.
"Today was to get the cobwebs out and get Christmas out of everybody and get
focused on what we need to do the rest of the week. We're certainly excited
to be here, have a tremendous amount of respect for the Liberty Bowl and (AZLB executive director)
Steve Ehrhart and the group that runs it. I know it's exciting for our players.
we know we'll be well taken care of in everything we do outside of
football. What's important to me is our players do a great job in their
preparation, making sure they come focused and concentrate in our meetings.
I think that's a huge part of bowl game preparation, in that we go out and
practice well. If we'll do that, if we'll do a good job of preparing in the
meetings and practice well, then I think we'll perform well when it gets to
"I am excited about our fans, to be able to buy up the tix like we did. Total of
25,500 tickets sold, the allotment that they gave us. Some people have told
me we'll have close to 50,000 fans here ofr the University of Arkansas and
that's real exciting to me. That says a lot about what our state thinks of
our football team, and the excitement that it generates with our players
when we take the field I think will really help us. It'll feel like it's
close to a home game and we've played well at home this year, so I hope
that carries over for us.
"We graduated eight players at mid year, which is very exciting for me. I'm
very proud o the young men that graduated. That is what it's all about.
That is what college football is all about, being a student-athlete. That
was a lot of fun, and to be able to celebrate that at practice and after
practice before we left for Christmas was really exciting and put a lot of
smiles on everybody's face. But I'm looking forward to our preparation here
in the next few days and just getting ready for the game."
Question: There were wide receiver slips in practice Monday at Rhodes College's grass field.
Any concerns there?
"Well, I think that preparation will befine. We'll have to battle through some of the elements. I'm not sure it was the natural grass we were on or just not the coordination you normally
have. Just those few days off and not geting out there and throwing the
ball around and catching it ... I saw it mostly from the receivers and the
quarterbacks' timing aspect of throwing and catching. I thought everyone
else did a pretty good job on the field.
Question: Could you discuss the evolution of D. J. Williams at tight end?
"You know, D.J.'s a great football player. A year ago we
relied on him every down. We had a sr qb that had a great relationship with
DJ. We had mostly true freshman wide receivers out there. So his comfort
zone was to drop back and throw th eball to D.J. williams. In spring we
tried to work real hard at his run blocking and pass protecting and
becoming an overall tight end. I got to tell you I respect him tremendously for
the effort he put in on that, the concentration. The understanding of the
detail of the position.
"He really became that overall tight end that we
need. He helps us tremendously in the run game. A lot of times he's
involved in pass protection, a lot of time he's involved in the route.
Usually when we call his no. he gets open, catches the ball. One of the
things about DJ, he's probaly one of the hardest guys on our team to tackle
after the catch. We need to get him involved in the game with the ball in
his hand as quick as we possibly can, because we have won a lot more games
when he catches the ball in games than when he doesn't."
Question: During your practices in Fayetteville, there apparently were more days when it was ones versus ones.
Will you continue that here?
"Yeah, well, this is like getting back to a normal game week is what we'll do. it was great, the preparation
before we broke for Christmas. We'd spend about 1 hour, 20 minutes on the
guys getting ready for this game, then we'd send them down and they'd
condition, stretch, lift weights. Then all the young guys got individual
attention. Some days we did some group work, and some days we did some team
work. it was really getting them in a position where they can compete for a
starting job in spring ball. It's really invaluable to get those amount of
reps in practice and be coached on every play and have it videoed. So now
when we get to the offseason, we can make cut-ups of a guy like Anthony
Oden. We came make a cut-up of him on the run game and the pass game and he
gets to watch himself execute our offense in the offseason. I think it's
invaluable and I really believe that's how you build a team. But now we do
transition back to normal game week and everyone understands what that
preparation is all about."
Question: Why is your team dangerous?
"The first thing is we have a great
attitude. This football team, for the last two years, has come to practice and
worked hard, worked with energy and worked with excitement and we did that
today. I knew we would throw and catch the ball as well as we normally do
or we would like to because we've had a break. That happened even when we
took the week off after the season and took off and came back and started
practicing before the bowl game.
"So we've got to get that out of us. We'll be a little bit better tomorrow.
We'll be a little bit better on Wednesday and by Thursday I'll expect us to
not have the ball hit the ground, that we'll complete every single pass in
"I think we're an explosive football team and I think we've gotten better as
the year's gone on because of our ability to not only throw the ball but
run it. And run it with some power. Relying on Dennis Johnson's done a nice
job for us. When Broderick Green's in there running the ball, he's very
powerful. And then our two freshmen have really come on late in the season,
particularly Ronnie Wingo and his ability to run the ball with speed and
power. He's generated a lot of big plays. Last night i spent a lot of time
going back and watching our games, and watching the games we played well,
just to try to get a sense of making sure you don't forget what got us
here. Ronnie really stood out in the way he ran the ball with power in
"Defensively it's been about creating turnovers, playing with great effort
and running full speed to the ball and creating turnovers and we must do
that in this game."
Question: Has it been an easy transition for Garrick McGee as the new offensive coordinator?
"Yeah, I think it's been easy for Garrick because the
minute that he came here, he knew in the back of his mind, I'm preparing
myself to be coordinator. You know, he knew that. That's how I got him to
come here. He was the offensive coordinator at Northwestern and did a great
job. To get him to come to Arkansas and coach the quarterbacks, you know, I
think it was two reasons he took the job. NO. 1 it was close to Mom and
close to Tulsa, which is a good thing; No. 2 is he knew that if Paul was to
move on then I would name him the coordinator. It's been something he's
been working on since the first day he got here. It's been real easy. we
know each other very well. he knows how I am. He knows what I want and how
we want to operate everything. And he does an excellent job of stepping in
and doing it. The good thing is he's done it before. He's run the show
before at Northwestern.
Question: How has Ryan Mallett been able to ignore the distractions and focus on the game?
"Yeah, I think he's done a nice job of that of late. Probably our last three or four
practices at home before we broke for Christmas, he was very good. He was
very accurate and really into it. He did a really good job today of
leading. He didn't complete every pass. We dropped a couple passes. But he
kept working and working through it and leading and giving everybody energy
in the huddle and making sure our tempo was good. that's what makes him
such a good player, is he's a great leader and he likes football. He's
going to be well prepared by the time we kick if off on Saturday."
What makes East Carolina dangerous?
"First of all, they can run the ball and throw it, so we have to do a good job on
defense getting them off the field. We
don't want them to control the football with their quick passing game and
their ability to run the ball and have our offense standing on the
sideline. WE have to be aggressive on defense and force their hand I guess
you would say. Either get them off the field one way or the other. Get the
ball back or they score and we get it back. So we do definitely have to be
aggressive. Then I'm concerned about their defensive front. They're very
good defensive front, they're very active. They're big and physical. I
think we have a chance if we can get our RBs in the secondary and get our
receivers in the secondary to make some big plays."
Question: Should this be like a home game?
"It should, yeah. And the good thing about our crowd is they're educated.
They know when it's third down and they have the ball, then we're going to be real
loud and obnoxious and make
it hard for them. When it's third down and we have the ball, we're gonna be
quiet like we're in church."
Question: Can you address the Urban Meyer situation and the fact your name was out there?
"Yeah, I think the thing is, you said
I'm used to it by now. There's times when your name's thrown out there and
you're definitely not a candidate, and then there's been a couple of times
where I have been.
"When this first came out about Urban, the first thing I think about is I'm
happy, I'm healthy, I've got a great job at a great school. I can really
relate to it becasue we had Willy Robinson go down this year, ya know, we
carted him out of the training room to the hospital in an ambulance. It was
very, very scary, ya know. And something that you're always concerned
about, something that you understand that we don't do things as football
coaches right all the time. We don't sleep enough, we drink too much coffee
as I sit here and drink coffee. We don't take care of our bodies as well as
we should. I'm just hoping that Urban is going to be all right. he's a
great football coach. He's done an excellent job at Florida.
"I'm not sure why HE has so much stress because he ought to be on this side,
where you're battling every week to win a game.
Question: Are you still developing the game plan?
"The gameplan is in. We put that in. Before we broke for
Christmas we went through a normal Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday practice
and ran it like that. now it's about polishing. We'll tinker with it a
little bit as we watch more video and we get into the week we'll change
some things and some situational work that will I'm sure will change, a
couple third down calls, things like that. but the gameplan is in and ready
to go. I always have tried to do that for a bowl game is, have a regular
week of practice before you came to the bowl site. now we just repeat
those. today was getting the cobwebs out. we did some individual work and
then a little bit of skelly and then a normal Thursday practice, which was
great. we got to go through all the situations we go through on Thursday
today. We'll watch that video, we'll make corrections and then we'll come
back and repeat it again on Thursday."
Question: There was a spirited practice last week before you broke camp. Take us through that?
"It was nice to get that out of them
in practice because it certainly isn't going to happen in the game. I
didn't understand they watched that documentary on Miami, but I did hear a
couple of our coaches talk about it. They watched it. I know that."
Question: What were they doing?
"Our players? We had a scrimmage actually and went
ones vs. twos and live tackle and scrimmage. We had guys make big plays.
They threw the ball up in the air and had fun basically. They had a lot of
fun out at practice. It was really a good practice for us. The energy that
was there before practice, they were talking back and forth a little bit
about tackling live. Probably the first two years I coached a bowl game we
didn't tackle live when we got to the site. And didn't tackle very well in
the game. So we wanted to make sure that we have live tackling and be able
to do two things, really. Tackle well and take care of the ball. If you
haven't hit like that then sometimes you don't do that. they just had fun."
Question: Will D.D. Jones be available?
"D.D. won't be able to go. He has a high ankle sprain and a
knee. that was in that scrimmage. That's the down side of going live is
having somebody get injured. So he'll be out for the game.
"It hurts us. he played every game this year and he's
a good football player and very physical. but we had other guys rotate in
there. Lavunce Askew, Alfred Davis, we
also have Pat Jones, they've all played a lot this year. I think it will
get more reps for Pat Jones and a little bit more for Davis."
Question: How do you escape from football?
"During the season it's hard. You really don't. I
think the best escape I've had is my family. Unfortunately all my kids are
grown up now. It used to be a great deal. You go home, you start playing
with your kids and you forget all about bringing four week or scrape blitz,
any of that. It goes completely out the door. But now that the kids are
older, it's a little bit harder than that. One thing that I have tried to
do with our coaching staff is make sure they know their families are part
of football. So you'll see some of them have their kids up to practice and
coming to scrimmages and be out on the field. We have Thursday is family
night, which a lot of people do. As soon as practice is over on Thursday,
you're to your house and home with your family. I think some of our
assistant coach's cars are running in the parking lot on Thursday's just to
get a break. But it's hard. It takes a lot of time. I think one thing that
has made it even harder nowadays is the recruiting. The early commitments.
And the Internet. Keeping up with the Joneses. It's made it more difficult
because you recruit every day. You're on the phone every day, you're on the
phone every night. Because of the early commitments, I don't really enjoy
that as much as I used to. I used to really like recruiting. When the
season is over, you went to the site that was your recruiting area, you're
out there for three weeks, you knew every single guy in every school that
you had in your area. But now it's more national and more going to every
area there is. so it's a little more difficult."
Question: How does this bowl help you recruiting Memphis?
"Iit's very important to us. I talked to Tim Horton
probably a month ago and said we have to start considering Memphis part of
our home state. I don't feel like we've done a good enough job here in the
city. there's always good football players here. So we have to do a better
job of making the relationships that we've made in our own state with high
school coaches. and this really helps. That's why practice is open. It's
not so you guys (in the media) can come to practice. It's because if we don't have it
open, then the recruits and high school coaches can't come to practice. So
that's why the practices are open. We can't talk to them, but they can come
and watch and see how we work and I think that's as good as anything."
Question: How have the sophomore receivers grown?
"Tthere's a lot of room for growth. The consistency is
a big part of it. We've seen them all have big games and big breakout
games. I think right now Jarius Wright is probably the most consistent
because he's the guy that's mentally tougher than the other two. But
they're all very talented. When they're focused and feeling good they're
hard to stop. One thing that's been good is because all three of them can
make plays, the quarterback can really read the coverage and just
distribute the ball according to coverage. We don't try to force the ball
to a particular guy. I think that's why they've all had their share of
"I've always said this to you guys: when the offense starts to work the way
it's supposed to work, you'll see Childs have a big game one week, J Wright
have a big game the next week, D.J. the next week, Joe Adams. We're getting
closer to where it needs to be."
Question: What gives you confidence your team can win this game?
"We're a good football team. We're playing a good football team. I think if we
execute and play the way we're capable of, take care of the ball,
we have to make big plays and eliminate
their big plays, that we're very capable of winning the game. If we don't
do those things. If we don't execute and play the game we're supposed to
play it, then they're very capable of beating us. And the good thing is,
that's about how every game we've played this year has been. The
competition and making sure you're prepared week-in and week-out. That's the
toughest thng about the sec. You can't take a break. You have to prepare
well each week. Any team we play is capable of beating us."
Question: Does ECU resemble any team you've played?
"I've always had a hard time with comparisons like
that. I think the thing you see that stands out is that they have SEC
caliber defensive linemen that can really rush the passer and play the run.
That's my biggest concern is being able to block their front."
Question: Speak on the development of Tenarius Wright as a defensive end?
"It wasn't easy convincing him. He came in as a very good
middle linebacker. He had a lot of success when we first got him as a middle
linebacker. We were ready to make the decision that he was going to split
time with the ones and maybe have a chance to start. And then he got the
dreaded high ankle sprain and basically missed about a month of practice.
So we redshirted him. When we were redshirting him, if we were playing a
team that had a great speed rush defensive end, we would move him from
linebacker ot defensive end that week in practice. Then you could see his
ability to rush the passer, his speed, his knack for bending, his ability
to come off the edge. I started thinking, man, this guy might be a
defensive end for us. And then we got into the winter program and spring
and he didn't run the 40 as well as he wanted to or as well as we wanted
him to. Sometimes that's not really a good indicator, but it put another
thought in our mind that maybe if we move him from linebacker to D-end he
goes from good speed at linebacker to great speed as a defensive end.
"And so we practiced him there some. We brought him back in two-a-days and put
him back at linebacker. and then he kind of came in and said, you know
what, I think I'll have more success as a defensive end and we made that
switch. He's a real good player for us. He rotates in. He plays just as
many snaps as anybody else. He's very productive. He causes a lot of havoc
in the backfield. He's caused a lot of fumbles. And I can't say enough
about how much he means to our team. His energy and his smile that he has
every day and the fact that he works extremely hard."
Bobby Petrino: We're a Good Team
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