After pulling quarterback Daniel Cobb in favor of Jason Campbell in the fourth quarter of Saturday's game, Petrino said there's still no doubt in his mind who the quarterback is for this team. That is the senior Cobb. After turning the ball over three times early in the game, Petrino still says he's the man for the job.
"Going through the video and watching it I think Daniel put us in a position to win the game, but didn't make enough plays," Petrino said. "We didn't win it but he was there. We have to take care of the football. I still feel like he gives us the best opportunity to win the game. Jason will still be the backup. We put Jason in the game in the fourth quarter because I felt like there was an opportunity for some runs. Jason did some good things, but he missed some things also...Some of the vision things and just the entire execution of the whole offense I think Daniel gives us the best opportunity to win."
Something that the entire offense is fighting with right now is a lack of confidence. Despite putting up solid yardage totals once again, the unit failed to put enough points on the board despite moving the ball well. Because of that most of the blame falls on Cobb as the quarterback and if his confidence suffers it affects the entire group. Not helping that is a barrage of boos coming from Auburn fans unhappy with Cobb's performance. Petrino said that's something they'll just have to overcome, but he's proud of the way the senior handled it Saturday.
"It's everybody's confidence starting with me," Petrino said. "I have to make sure I show that I have confidence in him to call the game the way it should be called because you know you can make the play. He has, I guess, to get earplugs. That's hard to deal with. Luckily he's not a 19-year old kid, but he's still a kid. It doesn't matter how old he is right now, he's still a kid. That's hard to deal with. Everybody that is an athlete that competes, you have to believe in yourself. You have to have confidence that you can get it done. You always have some obstacles to overcome and that's one he has to overcome when the situation arises.
"Did he overcome it? He fumbled the ball and the next play he threw a touchdown. He jogs out on the field and the whole world is booing him and he takes us on a drive and we score. There are some things to be said for that, too."
Practicing for just over an hour Sunday, the Tigers focused mostly on special teams and correcting the mistakes from Saturday's game. Defensively, that meant working on tackling and breaking down on the ball carrier while on offense the focus was on protecting the ball and getting the right pass protections called to allow Cobb time to throw down the field.
"It was a tough day after watching the video," Petrino said. "We're in a position where I felt like on offense that we could go back and forth with them and make it a shootout. I felt real good about the way we executed except for the turnovers. We ran the ball and had them in a position where I felt like we were ready to take over with the running game. I was happy with the deep play-action passes that we hit. It was good to see because we had practiced real hard at it and executed it. We can't turn the ball over. It was the three turnovers that hurt us."
Missing from practice were defensive players Spencer Johnson, Reggie Torbor and Dontarrious Thomas, who all continued to be bothered by nagging leg injuries. While Torbor should be back at practice later this week, both Johnson and Thomas are doubtful to be 100 percent although both should play.
One of the toughest things to swallow for Petrino Saturday was missed opportunities in the passing game. Despite what he called the best passing day of the season for his Tigers, the first-year coach said that twice the offense missed chances to score more points. Once was a blown assignment by the running back that didn't run the right route against a blown coverage by Arkansas and the other was a missed line call by the quarterback.
"They gave us a new front the 64th play of the game," Petrino said. "They jumped into what you would call a "Bear" front, a Chicago front, which was the old Buddy Ryan look. They hadn't shown that the whole game. The quarterback has to make a protection check on that. We could have scored and tied the game on that. The receiver made a nice play on it, but we didn't get it protected.
"We just haven't done a good job yet of putting the whole offense together. We have times when we look like we want to, but we're making too many mistakes. Not just at the quarterback position. We're making too many mistakes everywhere. We're taking turns and that's what hurts you. It's time that we put it all together though. We've got to get it all together by this weekend."
Petrino did have praise for the wide receivers. Catching everything in sight and making plays after the catch, the group was one of the only bright spots on an otherwise gloomy day in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
"I thought we got better as an offense with the loss simply because we executed our passing game better and our receivers caught the ball and made some plays after the catch," Petrino noted. "That was the first time this year that we got over 100 yards after the catch. That's our goal. We did make some improvements there and made some improvements in our play-action game. But we didn't make enough plays in the critical times of the game to win."
The Tigers will take Monday off before returning to practice on Tuesday. The team will practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before heading to Gainesville on Friday. Kickoff for Saturday's game against the Florida Gators is set for 5:45 Central time and can be seen on ESPN.