Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino doesn't want to pour in cold water on high expectations heading into the 2010 season. In fact, Petrino made it clear Saturday morning at a media briefing that he's all for it.
In other words, bring on top 25 rankings. Bring on national attention on the Razorbacks.
"I like it," he said. "I like having high expectations. Our expectations are high.
"I want to be in the preseason rankings. I think they are about how you finish and what you have coming back. We finished strong and we have a lot of players coming back. I hope we have pressure from being ranked high when we start the season."
Petrino met with the media before the Arkansas-Alabama basketball game. Part of the mission was to close the books on the 2009 season. He also wanted to introduce new offensive line coach Kris Klenakis. The newest member of his staff arrived on campus at 3:30 p.m. Friday.
Both Petrino and Klenakis said it wasn't so much a case of two old Carroll College grads getting back together. He said it was more that they had a working knowledge of each other from coaching together for Kris Ault at Nevada. Klenakis said he had a knowledge of Petrino's base offense. Both believe in the weakside/strongside flip blocking scheme. Klenakis said they learned it together at Nevada and they have both stuck with it.
"He understands how we work, how we practice," Petrino said of Klenakis. "He knows how we grind, what we ask from our players. There is something to that."
Klenakis said he will emphasize that the UA offensive line plays "fast and physical." How will they do that? "We'll be prepared," he said. "We'll come off the line fast, as one unit. We will come off together. We'll cock our arms at the same time. We will play together. The offensive line has to be one heart beat. It's the position with the most players, but through preparation, we'll be together."
Petrino said he is interested in picking up some aspects of the Pistol Formation that Ault and Klenakis have used with great success at Nevada.
"We had some that formation last year and did some things in the passing game with it, but we want to be better with it in the run game," Petrino said. "It's going to be interesting to see what else we can get from that formation."
There were a few player notes from Bobby Petrino's press conference before the basketball game. Here are some of the tidbits.
Colton Nash is enrolled in school and will be eligible for spring practice. Nash will stay at defensive end, the spot he worked in bowl practices during December.
Grant Freeman worked at tight end during bowl practices, but will return to tackle.
De'Anthony Curtis moved from running back to cornerback for bowl workouts, but his position status hasn't been determined. Petrino said he would talk to Curtis in a couple of weeks to talk about the player's preference.
Jerell Norton withdrew from school Friday. He is no longer with the team.
There were five surgeries: Ryan Mallett had his left shoulder tightened up with a scope. So did Van Stumon. Stumon will not have contact in the sprint. QBs don't have contact, so neither will Mallett. DeMarcus Love and Grant Cook had minor knee scopes. Chris Gragg had the screw removed from his ankle. All of this happened on Tuesday after MRIs on Monday.
Petrino said Mallett's injury did not cause much concern during the season.
"It wasn't something that he had to have done, but it was just for the best," Petrino said. "He had some pain when he handed off the ball with his left hand. He could have gone on without, but it will be good that he had it down the road."
Mallett had considered going to the NFL after his sophomore season. Petrino addressed that process and he also noted that it was just going to be one more year.
"We talked about it for a couple of weeks (during bowl practices) and then we put it to bed for awhile," he said. "I think he needed to look at it and consider what might be best for his family. He needed to be sure. But he did the right thing.
"In the end he really wanted to come back and be a Razorback. He knew all the weapons that were coming back. In his heart, he just wanted to play another year. But he owed it to his family to check everything out.
"I anticipate this will be Ryan's last year. There won't be any question about that this time next year."
Petrino said the Hogs didn't play well in the Liberty Bowl despite winning 20-17 in overtime.
"We had a bad game," he said. "Fortunately, our defense stepped up and helped us win the game. I credit the defensive staff and our players for helping us win in that situation."
Petrino doesn't ever recall winning a game with a zero-for-13 conversion rate on third down. In fact, he couldn't remember being in that situation, win or lose.
"I don't want to go back and look that up," he said. "Let's just call it a record and move on. It has to be a record, right?
"Part of it was the cold. You can see why some offenses struggle in cold weather situations. But we had some third-and-shorts, two that I remember. We didn't execute very well.
"East Carolina did a good job of moving their front and they had a very experienced middle linebacker. He did some things that he wasn't supposed to do in some of those defenses. We had a hard time with that."
Petrino: Bring on Pressure
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