September 16, 2009

Petrino has concerns of his own

Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said Wednesday his team got what it expected out of its season-opening win over Missouri State two weeks ago.

But as his Razorbacks prepare for Saturday's game against visiting Georgia, Petrino said he's more than a little bit concerned.

Here's why:

While Arkansas had a bye following their 48-10 victory over an unheralded Missouri State team, Georgia was going up against the likes of Oklahoma State and South Carolina.

So, although the Bulldogs (1-1, 1-0) might still have some questions about their 2009 squad, as Petrino points out, as least Georgia is a battle-tested team.

"That is a concern," Petrino said during Wednesday's SEC teleconference. "Although we did play well at times, they were playing Oklahoma State and South Carolina and that's a giant advantage for them. They've been in a hard-fought game; they've played a very fast, very physical game. What we've got to do is make sure we understand what we're getting into and adjust to that speed quickly."

Georgia head coach Mark Richt would like to believe that's the case.

However, as Richt points out, the Razorbacks have basically had all summer and all preseason to prepare for his Bulldogs.

"They're going to be fresh and they're going to be strong," Richt said. "It's going to be an exciting atmosphere. I know their fans are jacked and we're going to get their best shot."

Time will tell.

It took Georgia three hours and 54 minutes to finally dispatch the Gamecocks, the Bulldogs' longest since the 2008 Sugar Bowl win over Hawaii that took 4:05. It was the longest regular season game for the Bulldogs since 2002 when Georgia beat South Carolina in Columbia, and that marathon lasted 4:01.

Petrino doesn't think the Bulldogs will be tired.

"We're going to learn a lot about our team," Petrino said. "Again, Georgia has the advantage for having already played two big games against two very good opponents. We took care of our business but this is going to be a big test as far as matching their speed and strength. We'll definitely see where we're at."

Saturday's game is the first of 11 straight for the Razorbacks, who travel to Alabama next week before taking on Texas A&M in the Southwest Classic.

"We prepared a little different this year. We lifted heavier and ran maybe a little bit harder because of the early bye, plus knowing we've now got 11 straight," Petrino said. "I think we did a nice job over the summer with our conditioning and making sure our foundation was set. We ran longer distances and did not get into our schemes maybe as quick as we normally would. I hope we did it right."

Of course, most of the eyes at Donald W. Reynolds Stadium will be on Razorback quarterback Ryan Mallett and freshman Tyler Wilson who combined to complete 30 of 41 passes for 447 yards and three touchdowns.

The effort marked the highest single-game passing total on Arkansas history and the first game in which the Razorbacks have ever thrown for 400 or more yards. The 6-foot-7 Mallett, who transferred from Michigan, was 17 of 22 for 309 yards and one touchdown, the 12th-best passing performance in Razorback history.

"I've never had a quarterback with the arm strength that he has," Petrino said. "I've been very happy with his progress. He's done a nice job. Ryan is a student of the game and has worked extremely hard. He's dropped from 265 pounds to 238, he's really gotten his body in great shape and he had a good first game."

Arkansas will be without London Crawford, whose 24-yard touchdown catch from former quarterback Casey Dick with 21 seconds left enabled the Razorbacks to beat LSU, 31-30.

Crawford broke his right collarbone against Missouri State, but Arkansas still has wideout Jarius Wright who had six catches for 139 yards in the season-opener.

Arkansas is also without wideout Lucas Miller, who broke his collarbone in practice Aug. 20. Miller had a 10-catch, 201-yard performer last year against Mississippi State, but despite their losses, the Razorbacks still have eight receivers who finished in their top 11 receiving from a season ago.

"He's (Petrino) still going to be very aggressive. Everyone who has ever played for him says that about him," Richt said. "He'll take a risk (offensively), but when he does it's a calculated risk and he has success more times than not."

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