It was Garrick McGee's turn in the media room afterwards and the UA offensive coordinator put it out there plain and to the point. McGee said he didn't want to read too much into the first two days of padless workouts. Practicing in helmets and shorts is "like basketball." He'll start making real judgments when the violence begins.
The Hogs will have two more days without full pads before that happens. Until then, about all McGee and the rest of the UA staff can do is judge the team on energy, execution and the carryover from the spring.
"What I can tell you is that it's apparent that it's important to these kids," McGee said Friday night. "They have prepared themselves in the summer. You can see they want to do good. There's a lot they still have to do, but they've put a lot into it to this point. They have made the decision that they want to do well."
"I believe Coach Petrino was happy and if he's happy, that's good for all of us," McGee said. "I think he likes the energy of the squad. He likes the commitment."
But ... and there's always a but.
"It's still basketball right now," McGee said. "We haven't put on the pads and this is a violent game played with helmets and pads. We've had no setbacks. We've had no distractions. We haven't had anything bad happen yet."
Perhaps the first little hint at a distraction was the way Ryan Mallett felt Friday morning. McGee said he saw Mallett early Friday in the hallway and it was clear to the junior quarterback that he hadn't done much in a long time. There were no problems with the broken foot that knocked him out of spring and required two surgeries to fix. It was his whole body.
"He was one of the first guys I saw this morning," McGee said. "He said it wasn't anything about his foot. He said his whole body was sore. But he did a good job of getting his body prepared today. He spent time in the training room and in the ice tub. He knows what it takes to be an SEC player."
The Friday evening practice was uneventful. The Hogs were sharp in the check downs in the passing game in the pass skeleton drill, but it wasn't a long session. Instead of the 42-play, 20-minute segment Petrino usually scripts, it was just a little over half of that. But it was sharp.
Quarterbacks Ryan Mallett and Tyler Wilson, splitting the work evenly, combined to complete 17 of 23 passes. There were only two or three chances down the field since the secondary seemed to be guarding that area well. The passes that were completed were either underneath of against particularly tight coverage.
One pass breakup, perhaps face guarding by Elton Ford, could have been a pass interference when Mallett heaved one perhaps 60 yards. But there were two nice breakups, the first by Isaac Madison and another by Jerico Nelson. The Madison breakup drew applause from the crowd of around 500. Ramon Broadway ripped away what looked like a long completion to Jarius Wright, drawing some sighs from the fans.
"Our execution needs to improve," McGee said. "But I thought Tyler Wilson had some nice passes, particularly in pass skelly. Tyler has had good practices. You can see he's more confident. He has a better understanding of the offense."
The combination of Mallett and Wilson at the helm produced solid results throughout the practice, but the defense had some bright spots, too. McGee said when he and Petrino talked about energy of the practices, they are talking about defense, too.
"When I talk about our kids really concentrating and their focus and their energy, I'm not just talking about offense," McGee said. "I think our defense has competed. They are much more aggressive."
The competition carried over to the placekickers Friday night. The evening finished (under the lights) with Eddie Camara and Alex Tejada dueling to a standstill. They were a combined 10 of 12 on field goals, both missing once. In fact, they had identical misses, striking high up on the left upright from just under 50 yards.
"That was amazing," McGee said. "It was fun watching them go at each other like that."
No where on the field is the competition more intense than at running back where Knile Davis, Dennis Johnson, Broderick Green and Ronnie Wingo are taking equal snaps. Davis said it's funny, but it's just the situation he hoped to dodge when he picked the Razorbacks.
"I thought I was running away from that when I came here," Davis laughed. "I was trying to find the school with the least number of backs. But I think it's for the best now. I see that you need depth.
"I think it's almost impossible for one back to do it. You better keep everyone fresh. I think I've learned that this is a much better way to do it. I didn't understand that in high school."
That's not to say each back wants to be the man. Petrino said he expects that if you isolate each back in a room and asked them who was No. 1, each would identify themselves.
"I'd claim it, sure would," Davis said. "But I trust each one of us to do it. I think you have to have that. I know everyone is pulling for the other guy when he's out there and we know it's going to take all of us. We all have things we do and we see the strength in having four. I think all four are very good."
Davis thinks the Hogs are good. More importantly, he thinks they are much, much improved.
"You see how we practiced the last two days, this is so much better," he said. "We haven't practiced like this before. Yes, we need to correct some errors. But our mental errors are much reduced. Our tempo is way better.
"It's still just the start. Today was the second day and we had a lot of installs. We have to polish them and get them better, but I think we showed we know what we installed. I think the speed we went at today in the installs was much faster than in the past.
"I just think this team is a lot better and we want to do whatever it takes to get to (Atlanta) Georgia and to get a national championship.
"I think you see what Ryan Mallett can do the last two days. He's really good. We all need to continue to get our timing down, but everybody knows what he can do. I know where he's going to take us -- all the way."
Cobi Hamilton turns up the field with a reception.
The Razorback helmet, up close and personal.
Isaac Madison is lining up with the first team at field cornerback.
Ryan Mallett said his entire body was sore Friday.
Jerrico Nelson practices form against Brett Harris.
Photos by Marc F. Henning, Hawgs Illustrated