"It's great to be back," Petrino said with a smile. "It's fun to walk out the door and get on the field. I walked 100 yards to the other end. It's great to be back. I'm having a lot of fun."
Petrino was pleased with the first day of work.
"I was happy with the way we started," he said afterward. "I thought it was a good start. We came out with a lot of energy. The defense flew around. We should have a good defense. Offensively, we've got a lot to learn, particularly in the passing game and the precision that we want, but I'm encouraged."
The first day of practice for the Cardinals was much like the Petrino run sessions in his first term. The pace was very up-tempo, with the goal of no wasted time. The goal is to prepare the team for game situations by always simulating game speed in practice. Impressed with their energy on day one, Petrino expects even more as practice continues.
"We have to practice faster," he explained. "I don't think our tempo and our pace is even close to where I want it yet, but we'll get better at it.
"I think if we practice fast and go game tempo, and get in game shape, then you do your conditioning throughout practice," he continued, adding that "the more reps you get the more players get better."
Sophomore Will Gardner entered spring practice as the first team quarterback and he did nothing to injure his chances of eventually getting the starting nod with his play on Tuesday. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound quarterback was confident and poised in the pocket. He displayed leadership qualities and had a number of impressive throws in simulated situations.
"I think Will is ahead after today," Petrino said. "He certainly has a little better grasp of the offense, but he does have to make better decisions, distribute the ball better, be more accurate on his passing. I really like that he's coachable. I like his understanding of the game of football and he's got the ability to make all the throws that we need."
The Cardinals will return to practice on Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. All practices are open to the public.
**Running back Michael Dyer participated in practice. The senior's status was uncertain as heading into spring drills. The former Auburn standout has been recovering from a sports hernia.
"He showed some quickness and had good vision," Petrino said. "I was impressed with a couple of the runs when he made really good cuts and showed some acceleration. He just needs to get more reps and work."
**Also participating was Corvin Lamb. Lamb suffered a torn ACL in the Cardinals win over Eastern Kentucky in week two of last season. Wearing a no contact yellow jersey, the junior received a limited number of snaps in simulated play.
**Known as an offensive guru, the presence of Petrino has changed another aspect of practice. Instead of the head coach barking about how much better the defense was to his team, Petrino's emphasis on offensive success has flipped the direction of the coaching trash talk.
"The thing is with Coach Petrino, he likes talking trash to the defense," said senior defensive end Deiontrez Mount. "Coach Strong was like, 'I'm going to talk trash to the offense,' so that's way different. Coming from a defensive coach to an offensive style coach, that's a big change."
**After missing the 2013 season with an injury, senior defensive tackle Jamaine Brooks was back on the field. Brooks started 6 games as a sophomore in 2012.
**Safety Gerod Holliman had a solid outing. The junior was very active defending the pass, making multiple pass breakups.
**Highlighted by Dominique Brown, who led the Cardinals in rushing with 825 yards last season, the Cardinals have a talented group of running backs.
"It's going to be a good group of running backs," Petrino said. "I can't wait to get the pads on. I think it is going to be very competitive."