"We are more physical," he said. "We are more physical on both the offensive front and the defensive front. I also think we are more physical at running back."
Petrino gave the veterans the afternoon off, sort of. He wanted them to have fresh legs for a scrimmage Thursday night, so they spent Wednesday afternoon in the video room. That gave the newcomers the afternoon practice to themselves in Walker Pavilion.
"I want them to be able to play fast and execute tomorrow night, so we had the freshman and newcomers up this afternoon," Petrino said. "We wanted them to hydrate and recover and expect them to play fast."
"We wanted to accelerate his learning," Petrino said. "We think that's a good position for him. He can help us there. He has shown that he can play downhill there. He's got the hips and the quickness. We really like the move to get him down in the box. And we think he can help there in our nickel and dime package.
"We are going to leave him there with Jerry Franklin at the will linebacker."
The middle linebacker slot seems to be centered on Freddy Burton's development. Burton got work in the morning and in the afternoon.
"He got a few more reps," Petrino said. "Yesterday he wasn't as physical as we want, so we set it up for him to go this afternoon, too. But this morning he did a really nice job."
Petrino said the battle at strong safety has picked up after Elton Ford progressed in the summer in his conditioning and had a fast start to camp.
"Rudell Crim is doing good, but he got nicked up and we kept him out of contact for a day," he said. "But he's getting some good competition from Elton. They are both doing a nice job. I will say that we are going to need three or four safeties."
Tramain Thomas is the starter at free safety.
"Tramain has the ability to play both and we are looking at some others," he said. "The three freshmen are getting looks there and Daunte Carr is probably shown the ability to learn the fastest. But I like the bodies and the height of all three of them.
"We might have to look at cross training Crim at both safety spots if we don't develop a fourth."
Overall, the linebacker play has improved.
"We have been working to become more physical there," Petrino said. "They came down hill a little better today. This morning they did a nice job of that.
"We looked at Damario Ambrose at outside linebacker and that makes our front more physical. We also really like what we see from Chris Smith. He's real, real fast and he has extra long arms. His arms are as long as his body and that gives him a real advantage in pass rush situations. He's shown that he's a willing learner. He's worked hard to get in a good stance and is very talented."
The kicking game has gotten a lot of attention in camp, but Petrino said the competition has been so close to call. He said the time is coming to make some choices.
"I think we'll be better at both spots, kicker and punter," he said. "But I don't think we've sorted it out yet. We have made ourselves better, though. It will come down to who is most consistent.
"Zach Hocker was booming some long field goals today and Alex Tejada has had a good camp. He's been very accurate except for one day and I think that might have been because we over kicked the previous day. We have kicked a lot. We are going to give the kickers a break after Thursday, get them some rest."
The Thursday practice will mirror game situations.
"We want to get them under the lights," Petrino said. "Sometimes that gives them some energy. We also want to get the coaches off the field and see if the players can operate. It's a lot like what we do in the Red-White game in the spring. We want to see the players in game situations. We'll run a clock and make it like a game in some ways."
The Thursday scrimmage is closed to the public.