State of the Hogs: Smooth

If there was a word to describe what happened over the course of the first two practices Thursday for Arkansas football, it would be smooth. The first day of Bobby Petrino's third season came and went without any hitches.

What it looked like to me Thursday was in one word, smooth. I thought it was as uneventful and as planned as I've seen a first day unfold. No real surprises. No disappointments. No change in the process. Players came to work. They did their thing. Coaches didn't have to to push, urge or change any minds. That's what you want in a first day.

I think the unexpected is what we've seen in the last decade. There had been so much change in the last two years with Bobby Petrino's staff that we really didn't know what to expect at the start of practices. But these guys know the routine, the drills, the plays and what's expected of them from their coaches.

It went like clockwork. The best evidence of that came when Bobby Petrino told his players that it was a good first day. He told us that, too. But I think the players knew they'd had a good day when they stepped off the field.

That's a very good sign. When it happens as expected, you chalk it up with a check mark, a very good day. That's what I saw.

I think the anxiety with most fans concerned their quarterback, Ryan Mallett. We'd been told he was fine. But he was so smooth that you soon began to take your eyes elsewhere during the practice to look at other things because it was obvious that Mallett was doing the expected, as far as from what we'd been told.

We had been briefed that Mallett, the high octane junior, would be able to move and he would be able to handle all aspects of a practice. It was clear he was in charge, the expected from the coaches.

There is always the wow factor when you see Mallett. But there is wow with a lot of other players out there, too. But we've seen most of them for so long that we aren't raising eyebrows as much anymore. We expect Joe Adams to cut on a dime. We know Dennis Johnson is going to look quick, fast and powerful.

I spent a lot of time checking out the young wide receivers during the first practice and also watching Braylon Mitchell, Byran Jones, Eric Mitchell, Chris Smith and the slew of new safeties. All were impressive. I also noticed Colby Berna has added some weight after a year of letting his shoulders heal from surgery. He looked good. Travis Swanson is bigger, too.

I guess what I saw as a total package was the continued maturation of a program, the process that Bobby Petrino began two years ago. Many of the things that I hoped would happen have happily come true. The offensive and defensive lines look like they will fill out their uniforms the way we see SEC teams that come to the visitor's sideline in our stadium. We are going to impress the fans of other teams the way some of their teams have impressed us.

It was a good day.

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