Tuesday Grid Update, 10/30

Paul Petrino

Tulsa leads the country in sacks with 4.38 per game. Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino has been impressed with film study of the Golden Hurricane.

Arkansas assistant coach Paul Petrino complimented the Tulsa defense when he met with the media on Tuesday after the Hogs finished their workout. He said the film study revealed a nice job by the Hurricane when it came to their blitzes.

Tulsa leads the nation with 35 sacks for 255 yards in lost yardage. The TU defense made a combined 15 of those against passing teams Tulane and Alabama-Birmingham. How do they do it?

"They do a good job of changing up their pressures," said Petrino, the UA offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. "They've gotten people to not check and then they've blitzed. They disguise it real well. And, then they've gotten some coverage sacks. And they've also been able to get after the passer because they've had big leads."

Tulsa (7-1) visits Arkansas (3-5) at 11:21 a.m. Saturday in Reynolds Razorback Stadium. It's the Homecoming game for the Hogs, but Petrino said that's not a factor in the UA plans.

"If you win (on Homecoming), it's great," he said. "If you don't, you feel like crap. We just need to go out and win."

The best news for the Hogs is the improvement shown in the last few weeks in the running game. That might deter the Tulsa blitz. TU will have to contend with a running back hitting a higher gear. UA senior Dennis Johnson rushed 27 times for 161 yards against Ole Miss.

"A little over half of that was yards after contact," Petrino said, revealing that the UA charts in the Broyles Center had Johnson with 83 YAC. "That was great.

Johnson took some punishment against Ole Miss, but Petrino said the Texarkana product "bounced around pretty good" in Tuesday's practice. He said, "I think he's ready to do it again."

It will probably be Johnson and true freshman Jonathan Williams getting the carries against Tulsa. Knile Davis is out with a hamstring injury. Petrino said Davis did not practice Tuesday.

Petrino said wide receiver Brandon Mitchell, suspended for a violation of team rules against Ole Miss, practiced on Tuesday. But Petrino said he'd wait for a clarification before finishing his game plan.

"We'll have a plan for him and for without him," Petrino said. "I have no update (on his availability)."

With Mitchell's status unclear, Petrino said, "Julian Horton needs to step up. We need to get more from Javontee Herndon. D'Arthur Cowan needs to step up, too."

The Hogs haven't gotten much production out of starting wideout Mekale McKay of late.

"That wasn't one of his better games (against Ole Miss)," Petrino said. "We have to get him involved early. That's probably frustrating for the freshmen and I think we can do a better job of getting him a play or two early and it will help him."

Petrino said the Hog will continue to rely on Austin Tate, Alex Voelzke, Brad Taylor and Mitchell Loewen at tight end with starter Chris Gragg on the sideline with a leg injury.

"Those guys have gotten a million reps, guys like them and Morgan Linton," Petrino said. "They fight hard and they are doing a great job of giving you all they have.

"Voelzke makes the TD catch on a great check from Tyler Wilson. He'd practiced that play all week and Tyler put it on him and he made the catch."

Voelzke said, "It was a great opportunity. I was really excited. Tyler saw the blitz and the linebacker flowed outside and I was open. I was probably the second option on the play, but when I heard the check I knew it might come to me."

Voelzke said he hates that injuries have contributed to his playing time chance, but that he's excited nonetheless.

"Those are the circumstances," he said. "I embrace them and work hard. I love playing. I take pride in working hard. You are a little nervous at first, but it's exciting to get a chance to score your first touchdown."

Tate had a chance for a touchdown late in the game, but it was called back for an illegal formation.

"I thought I had a touchdown, then I saw the flag," he said. "You have to check your emotions pretty quick. You know everyone has to live with the call and move on. That's all I was thinking."

Like his coach, Tate said he's impressed with the Tulsa defense.

"They have talent and it's a veteran group on defense," Tate said. "They play hard. When you look at tape, you see workers. We'll have to play things right against them. They don't make mistakes.

"They are pretty regular with their blitzes. We have to make sure we holler what our techniques are going to be to the quarterback to make sure we are on the same page. This game will really require that."

Wide receiver Cobi Hamilton said the Hurricane doesn't make a lot of busts in the secondary.

"They play their coverages well," he said. "They have veteran guys. They play a lot of cover eight and they really know how to play it sound."

Petrino was asked about Wilson's interceptions going up this year.

"His yardage and touchdowns are up, too," Petrino said. "We are probably throwing it more.

"We are probably putting too much pressure on Tyler to make big plays."

Petrino said the two interceptions were both into coverage when the check down was in order.

"The first one the safety was into the boundary, and he goes to the middle, so the ball never goes there," Petrino said. "It's a check down. The back was open. We had Dennis open on the second one, too.

"Maybe we are throwing too much. I can call more runs. Tyler is trying to make the big play, but sometimes he does. The last three weeks we have run the ball better."

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