It’s really interesting to sit through the Razorback spring practices and then read all the sportswriter’s reports of what went on.
I don’t envy those guy’s jobs. They have deadlines to meet. I couldn’t do that. I was supposed to have this blog post done on Sunday afternoon and here I am writing it on Monday evening.
At any rate, what’s really going on at football practice? Let me break it down real simple for you: It’s year three of the Petrino era. Everything is moving much faster. Everyone, it seems, knows their job intuitively and no longer has to pause to think. This is particularly true on defense.
Last Friday’s scrimmage was a good example. The defense is quicker, faster — no, those are not the same things — and hitting harder. The secondary play, both safeties and corners, appears much improved. I like the look of the linebackers.
Most importantly, you can see that the defense doesn’t want to play the ‘drawback’ position on this team any longer.
What about all those big passing numbers the offense has been putting up? Remember that the quarterbacks are mostly “hands-off” right now. And, there’s a bit of a slow whistle. In fairness, it’s hard to tell how good the protection or pass rush really is. So those passing yards need to be taken with a grain of salt.
There’s been a lot of emphasis on the running game. We are seeing various versions of the option that I can’t imagine Ryan Mallett actually running. We have a great stable of running backs. However, more times than not, the defense is getting the better of the offense in the running game.
Quarterbacks, however, seem to have lots of room to run out of the pocket. Archie Manning would love the Petrino offense.
Tight end play is going to be solid. The receivers are going to be good, just like last year. De’Anthony Curtis adds a Bobby Jo Edmonds type flavor to the mix. Not a receiver’s body, not a tight end body…but a real threat when matched up against a linebacker or safety.
The question is whether or not Ryan Mallett will use Curtis and the tight ends or prefer to look beyond wide open guys and throw way down the field like he did in the second half of the season last year.
Special teams? Who knows. I’m hopeful we’ll see improvement over last year. I’ve learned that you can’t tell at the practices what the real on-the-field performance is going to be like.
If Petrino mixes up the ones and twos for the Red-White game we should see some interesting football. RazorFest will be exciting for both young and old. I recommend making the drive up to campus and checking things out Saturday.