Tuesday Grid Update, 8/21

Paul Petrino

Offensive coordinator Paul Petrino talks about putting his "stamp" on the Arkansas offense and talks about what he saw from the Razorbacks in Saturday's scrimmage.

Asked about putting his stamp on the Arkansas offense this season, Razorback offensive coordinator Paul Petrino had a measured answer after Tuesday's practice.

"I don't know if it is putting my stamp on the offense because it is the same offense," Petrino said. "I am just going to my very best job I can to help the other assistants since we have always game planned everything together and help the players do everything they can do.

"If that is putting my stamp on it, then I hope it is a very successful stamp," Petrino added.

Petrino and his fellow Arkansas coaches continued preparations on their new practice fields Tuesday for the season opener with Jacksonville State on Sept. 1 in Fayetteville.

While looking ahead, Petrino also looked back at Saturday's scrimmage and what he saw on film afterwards in his post-practice media session.

"It showed that we came out and executed really well right off the bat," Petrino said. "Then we had a little letdown in the middle and we can't have that. We need to keep our focus and execute all the time.

"It was really a couple of third downs that we didn't execute like we could," Petrino added. "I thought we ran the ball the best we had all pre-fall and spring so that was encouraging.

"Cobi had a great day and I thought both quarterbacks played well," Petrino added. "I thought he O-line had their best day."

That offense is likely to get almost certainly to get more powerful with the addition of All-SEC tailback Knile Davis.

Davis – who missed the year after being hurt in preseason last August has not been going through the contact scrimmages.

"He has been working hard, getting a lot of reps out there today," Petrino said. "He wasn't tackled to the ground, but – especially in inside the run – there was some whacking going on. He was involved in some of it and looked really well. He is definitely on course to go out there and play well for us."

Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson said he does not have any worries about Davis.

"You wish you could see a glimpse of it every now and then and see him hit the hole like he needs to hit it in a game," Wilson said. "But deep down, you say let's just make sure he is ready to go. He's fine. We just want to get him to the game and have every bit of visibility when game time comes."

Davis' absence allowed freshman tailback Jonathan Williams a starring role in the scrimmage as he rushed 18 times for 115 yards.

"He had a good day," Petrino said. "He has great vision and he can really see the cuts and he can come to balance and change directions really well. He dropped one pass out in the flat and missed one cut block, but other than that I thought he played really well."

Petrino said Williams and several other newcomers are being readied to play, but there has been no decision made yet on whether Williams will see action this season or don a redshirt.

"I think that is just something with all of them," Petrino said. "If they are ready to play and they can do a good job for us and we need them, we are going to play them.

"You always think you have all kinds of depth and then all of a sudden you got one guy," Petrino added. "It seems like three seniors, but on that day we had one. I don't think you can never have enough guys ready."

The same is true with wide receivers – some of which got a passing grade from Petrino during Saturday's scrimmage and some who took a step back.

Freshman MeKale McKay and junior college transfer Demetrius Wilson earned praise while freshman Keon Hatcher and quarterback-turned-wideout Brandon Mitchell did not.

"I thought MeKale McKay came out and had two big plays again and played with great effort," Petrino said. "He hustled around and blocked real well. I thought Demetrius Wilson had his best day Saturday by far – just knowing what he was doing, playing hard and playing with great effort, catching the ball and running with it after the catch.

"I think Keon maybe took a little bit of a step back," Petrino added. "I thought he had been ahead of everybody else, but he didn't have a great day on Saturday. He came out and practiced better the last two days.

"Those three are the three new guys that are ahead of everybody to give themselves a chance to play," Petrino continued.

McKay had a big play where he stripped a defender after an interception – something that earned him a reward.

"You tell those guys all the time ‘if I am playing hard with great effort on every play, a good thing happens,'" Petrino said. "If you are not, then they don't. He was playing hard all scrimmage. He was being aggressive, he was going hard and because of that, he made that play. The next play I threw it to him deep to reward him and he got a big play. I was really happy with him that day."

Mitchell, who has been a star in practice, went the other way on Saturday according to Petrino.

"It was kind of just the opposite, when you are not playing hard all the time, good things don't happen to you," Petrino said. "He didn't have a good day. That was his worst day of camp. He didn't come up there with the right mindset, the right bounce in his step and energy and that equaled only getting one catch.

"He has came out and practiced better the next two days, but he just had a bad day that day and didn't play well at all," Petrino added.

Redshirt senior Chris Gragg is a star at tight end, but the others at the spot appear to be role players at this point.

"I think the tight ends have done a good job, but we still need them all to improve blocking on the edge," Petrino said. "…Chris is obviously the top guy and the rest of them need to keep improving to have a role. I think the rest of them will all be role players and whatever their role is they need to do a great job of executing it.

"(Austin) Tate has kind of had some days that he has played very well," Petrino added. "He played really well on Saturday and he has had a couple days when he has gone out there and not played as well as he can. He has been a little bit up and down. But I thought he played well on Saturday and he just needs to keep improving."

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