December 21, 2014

Sensory Overload

After being counted as one of the 40,000+ at the Razorbacks spring game, my head has been swimming over the last week thinking about all that I saw.

First and foremost…this is definitely the beginning of a new era for Arkansas football.  Without having to do a lot of talking, the coaching staff and players have let us know with their actions that things have changed.

Here are some of the things that I noticed this spring:

Casey Dick / Michael Smith / Antwain Robinson (TipsterHog Photo)The new offense is not predictable, and can apparently be taught to the players.  The ‘package’ doesn’t predict the play.  In fact, it seldom changes between plays.

Passing?  Five receivers out on the same play…three progressions and then a swing pass to the flat.  Next up…two tight ends on the field at the same time — on the same side — with a split receiver and a slot guy on that side as well.

This offense literally throws the ball all over the field…and that includes the middle of the field, too.

Rushing?  Draw plays…reverses…counter plays…fullback dive…even the infamous Houston Dale stretch play.  And sometimes…passing the ball first to setup the run.  Imagine that?

This offense gives the defense a lot to think about and very few clues as to what’s coming next.

The whole negative notion of quarterbacks as ‘bus drivers’ — on the field not to make plays and not to make mistakes — is gone.  Casey Dick is pointing and barking instructions…changing blocking assignments, formations, and plays.  In other words, being the leader of the offense.

Not yet Peyton Manning…but definitely well beyond ‘bus driver.’

This football team is going to hit.  No more constant worrying about the number of bodies and the fear of getting someone hurt.  The ‘being afraid’ that we’ve had over the past several years is gone.

Chip Gregory 2 (TipsterHog Photo)Short on linebackers?  Let’s tackle to the ground.  Running backs?  Tackle them and try to strip the ball, too.

Physical?  For years the Razorbacks have been thought of as one of the most physical teams in the SEC.  The new coach doesn’t think they’re physical enough yet.  Hit every day until it is second nature.  Find out who your best football players are and put them on the field.

Rather than a package of blitzes and cornerbacks on an ‘island,’ the focus now is on ‘team’ defense.  The offense will get the benefit of practicing against the type of defenses they will see in games.  The defense will get to practice against a ‘high end’ version of the type of offense they will see in games.

I’ll stop there for now.  I realize that’s a lot to digest…but that’s actually kind of my point.  I’ll try to summarize a few more things in a post later this week.  Until then, for those who saw any spring practice or scrimmages, what are your thoughts?

  • GonzoHog

    I was there HogBlogger, and yea, predictable is the last thing this team will be. After about the first 3 series of offensive plays, I quit tyring to keep up with the direction Petrino was going in. In other words, In a series of plays, you might guess 1 play out of 5, where as with the old regime phylosiphy, you could easily predict 4 out of 5. You can tell he’s a very focused, offensive-minded coach. He’s very organized, and take’s every snap seriously. Who would have emagined that Carlton Salters would be our leading reciever, yardage-wise, in the Spring game 3 months ago? Who would have emagined the TE catching the ball 2 to 3 times on every series? Who would have emagined Micheal smith running for 157 yds., because there were enough of the right plays called to get him into space, where he’s the most effective? Also, another thing that stood out to me was the quality of play were getting from virtually unknown DBs. Lorenzo Ward has got to be the real deal when it come’s to coaching the secondary. Everywhere he’s been, he’s excelled with his players. Between 1999 and 2006, the VT secondary was ranked anywhere from 1st to 5th every single year in passing defense, and the 1 year he coached professionally with the Raiders, his DBs were among the best in the league at stopping the pass. Is it any suprise we have a secondary that look’s like they came out of nowhere, and that Petrino continually praises them, saying that he’s comfortable with the play of our secondary? These are real coaches folks! Sit back and enjoy the ride.

  • BlindHog

    I would say that they are throwing the ball too much but, that would be tongue in cheek. It does feel strange to see the ball in the air so much.

    It will be a great ride Gonzo. If Petrino wants to stay in the SEC and finds he can win titles here I really don’t see him leaving anytime soon but you never know. He has put together a great staff and I am so impressed with his no nonsense coaching style. He does seem to be the anti-nutt in so many ways its funny.

    I think we have done a good job since December of not commenting on the old regime and I dont’ want to start too much of that here. Also, of course comparison is unavoidable. Passing WILL open up the run. Balance is the name of the game in offensive football unless you are running a very successful system. For Arkansas to have become the next great run oriented team we would have had to recruit many more great defensive players than we ever did. I think we will find this combination MUCH, MUCH, more effective.

    And fun to watch!!!!!!

    It is kind of a shame that our schedule is so tough. It will pay great dividends in 3 or 4 years. Whoever put Texas and Tulsa on the schedule at the same time as Florida was really mad at someone. Did Frank do that?

    TX, Bama, FLA, Auburn, ky, ole Ms, Tulsa, SCAR, MsSt. LSU with a six game stretch from Fla to SCar. That is just nutty. Pardon the pun.

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  • BlindHog

    Of course the reason the schedule is impossible is that everyone knows we will be 2-4 or at best 3-3 after 6 games. But, that is still a double edged sword. What if we actually managed to be 4-2 with that schedule?

  • OwassoHog

    Let the good times roll! Tickets will be at a premium we go 4-2. :-) Isn’t it funny that we haven’t heard how tickets sales are going yet! Didn’t we already “know” that ticket sales were up last year by x% by now despite the fact that most people hadn’t submitted their ticket requests yet!

  • Smedlap

    I’m also excited about Petrino and the coaching staff and this offense. One word of caution though. I lived in Louisville for part of the time he was coach there. I don’t recall stellar defenses but could be wrong. Granted, Louisville probably did not draw the defensive talent that Arkansas should have, but before we give the guy a National Championship we need to sit back and enjoy the new style but not expect too much too soon.

    I’m happy, though, for the regime change and the fact that this program has an offensive aggressor for the first time since heck I don’t know, maybe ever?

  • BlindHog

    Ain’t it the truth.

  • GonzoHog

    I will say this though, it would be a mistake to exspect too much, to soon. At first look at this coming season’s schedual, it would be easy to see the Hogs going 4-7 for the season. If Petrino is the “real deal”, as we suspect he is, then we may get to enjoy seeing this team win a couple that were not supposed to. If Petrino can lead this team to 6-6, or maybe even 7-5, and be competitive, even in the games we may lose, then we may turn the corner to future sucsess even sooner than was exspected. With this guy at the helm, I’m not sure there’s a coach in this league, or any other league, for that matter, that’ll be able to prepare for Petrino’s play-calling. I believe the real sucsess of this team will rely on how far the defense progresses between now and Sept. GO HOGS!!!!!

  • BACON BITS

    I have a question. No one has really talked about it. How important is the Ole Miss game with Houston Nutt at the helm. It’s a must win right? I guess everyone is assuming we win that one but what if (God forbid) we stumble for some strange reason. Is it important to beat ole miss year after year especially if you know who is at the helm…….

  • OwassoHog

    In my opinion, the only one that feels that it is a “must” win would be Houston. Yeah, we want to win and we should win but are we going to be motivated like he will be – just don’t know.

  • http://www.razorbloggers.net/ HogBlogger

    It’s a tough schedule. I really don’t have any expectations one way or the other as to how we will do.

    The Ole Miss game will be big to Houston Dale. He is very good at ‘emotional’ games. He also very seldom wins if he’s behind late in the second quarter. I’m interested to see what approach he is going to take to defense.

    I agree with Gonzo – the development of the defense will be a huge factor in our success. I do think we will need to be able to outscore people as well as run smash mouth in the 4th quarter to win a lot of games. If the offense can put up lots of points, the defense is less of a factor. The SEC doesn’t lend itself to that type of thing week in and week out, so who really knows.

    It will be fun to watch.

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  • Heart of Swine

    If I had to choose I’d rather beat Ole Miss than texas. Remember how pumped up Nutt and Burns were to beat the ‘Cocks when Holtz took over their? I have no doubt he’s got the game w/us circled on his calendar. And he’ll have what appears to be a fairly talented team (if you believe the recruiting reports) pumped up when they roll into Fayetteville.

  • BlindHog

    Ole Miss has a pretty tough schedule next year as well. After SCar and FL they have an open date before @Bama, @ARK and Auburn. Bama is a huge rival to the fan base. That is a lot to ask of a second road game. But, they are supposed to be pretty talented.

    With Nutty calling the plays I really don’t see much hope a strong season though. Who is their QB coach?

  • Heart of Swine

    A guy from the CFL that’s known for a wide open style of offense. Go figure.

  • BlindHog

    Either Hooty learned something or this guy is about to. He had Joe Ferguson in the booth the last time he threw the ball. Maybe this boy can do it for him now. He’ll have to get by Markuson first though.

  • GonzoHog

    I do know that the kid that transferred from Texas will be eligible to play this year. He was ranked as the #3 dual-threat QB in the nation, before he went to the Longhorns. He’s supposed to run a legit 4.5 40, so Nutt will probably be inclined to run him a little, (ala Matt Jones) concidering he’ll be the one calling the plays, as usual. I don’t put a lot of stock in who Nutt’s QB coach is, or where he’s from for that matter. It never meant anything when he was here, and it won’t make a hill a beans at Ole Miss either. The bottom line is Nutt will be calling the plays, and in the end, we all know the outcome. More wasted talent. It doesn’t mean he won’t be competitive, it just means, basically, that he doesn’t know how to win consistantly enough. He never has with his predictable coaching phylosiphy, and podds are, he probably never will. I’ll give it 3 years. Ole Miss will tire of it too.

  • BlindHog

    That will almost be as fun to Watch as Petrino. Can Hooty do it again? How long will he last? Is there another Matt Jones or Darren McFadden coming along in Miss.?

    Putting all your eggs in one unproven QB, especially one coached by Dale is a longshot at best. Why did he have to transfer? Sure he came with a rep but so did Schaeffer.

    It should be quite a year.

  • GonzoHog

    There’s one key missing ingredient Nutt had at the UofA, he doesn’t have at Ole Miss. Frank Broyles. Who seriously believes Nutt will actually last 10 years there without him? His tenure there will be a major exsposure to say the least.

  • GonzoHog

    I hate to get into a bunch of “Nutt bashing”, but it just feel’s so good to talk about this guy being the coach at another school. This has been a long time coming.

  • BlindHog

    And, to replace him with Petrino? How sweet it is.

    No, I don’t want to pick on Hooty too much and Frank very little no matter how much they deserve it. It is such a wonderful relief to be in the new era. Man did that ever get old.