Monday, January 18, 2010

Ever Wondered How Petrino Landed in Arkansas?

listen and learn

Petrino's Season Recap Presser

Petrino Filling Needs With 2010 Class

With February 3rd (national signing day) looming, I thought I'd provide a quick update with the 2010 class. Coach Petrino is doing an excellent job at filling spots that were evident weaknesses for the hogs during the 2009 season. With nearly all of the starters on offense returning for at least another year, coach Petrino focused on the other side of the ball with this year's class. However, with several of the recruits being considered athletes that could play either way, he's also preparing for the possibility of several juniors on offense turning pro next year.

On the defensive side, it's obvious that linebacker, cornerback and safety are priorities. The defensive line is too, but Petrino has yet to really get the commitments to date. That could change next weekend when several DT and DE prospects will visit Fayetteville. This weekend will wrap up the 2010 recruiting season. After next weekend, we should have more certainty as to how this class will shape up, but we will only know for sure after the ink has dried on national signing day.

What's most impressive about this class is the size and speed of the players. Petrino likes players that are tall and long armed. To get these players, Petrino went outside of Arkansas plucking players from all over the country. It's clear that Florida was a high priority for the Razorbacks this year. To date, Petrino has only accepted commitments from 3 players from Arkansas.

It will be interesting to see how things play out in the days leading up to signing day. The maximum number of commitments is 28 for all SEC schools. This is a new self imposed rule. The NCAA only allows for a maximum of 25 scholarships per year with an overall limit of 85 scholarships per school. The hogs are currently sitting on 22 commitments. It's unclear if they will have enough roster spots to meet the 25 scholarship limit.

Below is a list of the current recruits with their ratings.

Cam Feldt OL 6-5 290 5.3 5.8 Pilot Point, TX
Jatashun Beachum ATH 6-2 275 4.6 5.7 Dallas, TX
Eric Bennett ATH 5-10 176 4.6 5.7 Tulsa, OK
Courtney Gaston LB 6-3 205 4.5 5.7 Fort Gibson, OK
Jeremiah Jackson DT 6-2 265 - 5.7 Hoover, AL
Garrett Uekman TE 6-4 235 4.7 5.7 Little Rock, AR
Marquel Wade WR 5-11 180 4.5 5.7 Jacksonville, FL
Joseph Byrd DB 5-10 170 4.415.6 Cape Coral, FL
Daunte Carr DB 6-3 205 4.575.6 Gainesville, GA
Luke Charpentier OL 6-4 305 5.1 5.6 River Ridge, LA
Brad Hefley ATH 6-5 255 4.9 5.6 Joplin, MO
Julian Horton ATH 6-1 182 4.5 5.6 Norcross, GA
Braylon Mitchell ATH 6-2 208 - 5.6 Heber Springs, AR
Dimitri Orr DE 6-6 230 4.8 5.6 Oxford, AL
Darrell Smith DB 6-2 185 4.455.6 Port Saint Joe, FL
Jordan Rainey OL 6-5 310 5.3 5.5 Joplin, MO
Chris Smith LB 6-2 230 4.7 5.5 Mount Ulla, NC
Jacoby Walker QB 6-2 210 4.595.5 Spring, TX
Eduardo Camara K 5-8 155 - 5.4 Cedar Hill, TX
William Russ K 6-3 170 - 5.4 Shreveport, LA
LaCraig Brown DT 6-4 261 4.9 - Monroe, LA
Deonte Welch ATH 5-11 181 4.5 - Williston, FL

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Coach Petrino Speaks

A partial transcript of the yesterday's media conference is below.

Head Coach Bobby Petrino: Opening Statement:
"First of all, I was happy with the season. We talked about being better than we were my first year here and I certainly feel that we were. We put a nice home run together. One thing that you have to do to win a championship is win your home games and we came very close to that. If we had been able to win our home game against Georgia, we would have won all of our home games. I think we have certainly taken a step forward in the program.

We broke a number of records-both team records and individual records-and that's a credit to our team. Anytime you break individual records, it's because your team is performing well. At the end of the season, those things are important. During the season, you try not to think or talk about those things because you're worried about winning games, but at the end of the season, those are things you evaluate and they become important to our individual players.

We started eight true freshmen at some time during the season. I think that number was tops in the SEC and second in the nation. We are still a very, very young football team and we're working on growing as a football team. We made tremendous strides in our turnover margin. At the end of my first year, we were -9 and last year we were plus +15 which is a great turnaround and why we were able to win some games. You look back at the Florida and LSU games and if we had been able to finish those games and win in the fourth quarter, we'd be talking about a great year for us. We weren't able to do that, but we did finish strong and at the end of the season, we were a much better team than we were at the beginning.

We didn't play well at the bowl game. You can see why there aren't a lot of points scored in cold-weather situations throughout the country because it did affect us in our ability to throw the ball, in our ability to catch the ball and execute the way we needed to on offense. But it was a good way for us to win a football game where the defense had to step up and make the plays that made the difference in the game. That's a credit to our defensive staff and players staying in there and working hard."

On status of injuries heading into spring semester:
"One thing I've very happy with is our trainers and new medical staff. They've done an excellent job as everyone has come back to start school. On Monday, we had exit physicals, on Tuesday, we had MRIs scheduled for guys that needed it and Wednesday, we had some surgeries. We had four or five guys that needed some kind of surgery. We had some shoulders that needed to be tied down and tightened up. Van Stumon was one of those and Ryan Mallett was another. Ryan had some work done to his left shoulder. Both of those went very, very well and both will be in spring ball. Van will not be able to have full contact and we don't have full contact with quarterbacks. We had a couple of knees to get cleaned up with some cartilage work. DeMarcus Love and (Grant) Cook had their knees cleaned up a little bit. All of them are doing real well. With Chris Gragg, they went in and took out a screw from his previous surgery. That's a credit to Matt Summers and our training staff and doctors. To have all that done with that much organization, was crucial for us moving forward and having a great offseason."

On new additions to coaching staff:
"We have some new coaches on our staff. Obviously, when you lose coaches, it hurts and it's not something you like to do but it is part of the profession. Coaches like to have a chance to move on and all of them have different reasons. I'm real excited about the staff we have in place now with the new guys that came in. Steve Caldwell came in to coach our defensive ends. When I was the offensive coordinator at the University of Nevada, Steve was the defensive coordinator so we competed against each other all the time in practice and worked together to win games. I've always followed his career at Tennessee and how well he's done in recruiting, so we're getting a great football coach and a tremendous recruiter and I think he'll be a great addition to our staff.

Kris Cinkovich is coming in to coach our receivers. He's a guy I've worked with before and a guy I've watched travel through the small college ranks into being a head high school coach and into being a receivers coach at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas for six years. When I went to interview him, there was no question that he was the right guy for the job. He knows a lot of our offense already. He knows the drills and everything we do coaching our receivers. He also gives us a unique aspect in recruiting in the fact that he's been a high school coach and has been able to establish relationships with other high school coaches and I think that's something that really will help us in recruiting.

Being able to go out and hire Chris Klenakis as our offensive line coach is something I'm very excited about. We worked together at the University of Nevada-Reno. We threw the ball a lot but we were always very good at running the football. We worked for a Hall of Fame coach by the name of Chris Ault. Coach Ault is someone I have tremendous respect for. He taught me a lot about football and motivation. I've known Chris (Klenakis) forever and he has a unique knowledge of our offense but they were also the innovators of the so-called pistol offense and that's something I'm very interested in. We used aspects of it this year and I think it was really good for us in the passing game and now to be able to bring in the guy that knows the intricacies of the run game, I'm really excited about that. I know it was the right hire and it will be great for our football team. He's going to come in to coach our offensive line and do a great job motivating and getting them to come off the ball and play with great speed."

On work to be done during offseason:
"The idea right now is to build on what we have. It was fun the other day, when we got to meet together as a team, to see how many seniors are sitting in that front row and how much experience is there. They need to take this offseason and become the best possible football players they can become. They can get in better physical condition. There some guys that need to get bigger and stronger, and there are guys that need to get smaller and stronger. That's what the offseason is about."

On the announced returns of Ryan Mallett and D.J. Williams:
"We talked a lot about it after the season-between the end of the season and the bowl game-and then put it to sleep a couple weeks before the bowl game. I think they both made the right decision. I think Ryan coming back, continuing to work on his skills and development as a quarterback, will help him in his future."

On expectations for 2010 season:
"I like the fact there are expectations out there. Obviously, our expectations are very high, but I would rather have people think we're going to be a good football team. I've always believed that preseason rankings are based on how you finish and what you have coming back. As a football team, we finished strong and we have a lot of good returning players so I'm hoping there's some pressure on us and we're ranked to start the season."

Assistant Coach Chris Klenakis: Opening Statement:
"First off, I'd like to state that I'm very honored and very proud to be a Razorback right now. I'm excited to be in the Southeastern Conference, the best conference in the United States. Most importantly, I'm proud to be associated and coaching again with Coach Petrino. Our time together at Nevada was highly successful. As coach said earlier, we were the second-ranked team in offense, but we also produced the leading receiver in the nation and our quarterback led the nation in offense that year. I learned a lot of good football under Coach Petrino and was able to learn the base foundation of his offense. Obviously, since then he's added to that offense and I'm excited to continue to learn and grow as a coach. I'm very happy to be here and proud to be part of this great institution to help Coach Petrino with his quest to win championships."

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Petrino Hires Offensive Line Coach

On Friday, Coach Petrino announced Chris Klenakis "Coach K" (former offensive coordinator/offensive line coach for Nevada) as a new hire for assistant coach of the offensive line for the University of Arkansas. Klenakis is set to replace former offensive line coach Mike Summers who went back to his hometown of Lexington, Kentucky to be an assistant there after Kentucky hired a new head coach. Summers and Petrino were together for seven years prior to his departure.

Coach K has 19 years of Division I experience and comes to Arkansas from Nevada where he was the head of the Wolf Pack"Pistol" offense that had a powerful running game led by the offensive line for the last six seasons. In 2008, the Wolf Pack offense steamrolled over opposing defenses to capture a number of school records including total offense, most rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. In 2009, Klenakis and the offense eclipsed all those marks and the Wolf Pack had the number one ranked rushing offense in the nation, averaging 344.9 yards per game. Nevada also became the first team in NCAA history to have three players rush for more than 1,000 yards in a single season. In addition, the Wolf Pack ranked second nationally in total offense (505.6) and sixth in scoring (38.2).

As offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, Klenakis has tutored 12 All-WAC selections, and fourteen offensive linemen coached by Klenakis have gone on to the NFL.

Prior to his most recent stint at Nevada as offensive coordinator, Klenakis held the responsibility for three years at Southern Mississippi (2000-02) and one at Central Missouri (2003). His experience at Southern MIss and Central Missouri gives him a great familiarity with recruiting in the region, and his time in Nevada gives Arkansas a new recruiting market in the Western U.S.

Petrino on Coach K:

"I've been able to follow his impressive career since the beginning and Chris has an innovative offensive mind. There are elements of the Pistol offense he ran at Nevada that are intriguing and blend well with our philosophy of being aggressive and attacking defenses in a number of ways. He was raised in the profession by Chris Ault, who is one of just a few active head coaches in the College Football Hall of Fame. Chris Klenakis brings great energy and I know our offensive line will enjoy playing for him."


April 21, 1964

Fallon, Nev.

Bachelor's, Physical Education and History, Carroll College 1986; Master's Exercise Physiology, Nevada, 1992

Four-year letterwinner as an outside linebacker at Carroll College

Gabbs High School 1986, Churchill County High School 1987-89; Nevada 1990-99; Southern Mississippi 2000-02; Central Missouri 2003; Nevada 2004-2009

1992 Las Vegas, 1995 Las Vegas Bowl, 1996 Las Vegas Bowl, 2000 Mobile Alabama, 2002 Houston, 2005 Hawaii, 2006 MPC Computers, 2007 New Mexico, 2008 Humanitarian, 2009 Hawaii

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Let the Campaign Begin

D.J. Williams is Coming Back for 2010

Today, All Star Tight End D.J. Williams announced his intent to return to the University of Arkansas for his Senior season. In announcing his decision, D.J. cited the potential of this Razorback football team going into the 2010 season with Ryan Mallett at the helm.

Below is D.J.'s quote from his announcement:

“Taking into consideration the rewarding total experience I have had in Fayetteville, I feel there is no reason to cut this short. There are a lot of teammates and people I’ve grown close to and the ability to spend another year with them pursuing our goals is a big reason I want to come back. With Ryan (Mallett) and most of the key guys from last season returning I think this team understands what we can accomplish next season. That is something I’m excited about and something that means a lot to all of us. It is something our fans, who are the best in the nation, deserve to be a part of. The coaches here and the atmosphere we practice and compete in have helped me develop into more of a complete player. I understand the value of gaining another year of experience and the value of working towards finishing my degree.”

Friday, January 8, 2010

Mallett is a Razorback for 2010 Season

After weighing his options between the NFL and returning for his junior season at Arkansas, Ryan Mallett has decided to come back for at least one year. While he undoubtedly would have been drafted, he may not have gone as high as he would with one more year of maturity and experience under his belt. With a solid, experienced team returning next year, the Razorbacks will likely be a very difficult team to deal with, especially on offense. In addition to the talent returning, the schedule is far more favorable to the 2009 schedule. Most of the tough games will be played in Fayetteville or Little Rock. With Mallett's return, the national media will likely look favorably on the hogs in the rankings and recognize Mallett as a heisman candidate early in the season. Also, look for Mallett to continue to put himself in the record books with his return.

In Mallett's own words: "I'm coming back and we're here to win Championships here at Arkansas"

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Petrino Brings on Assistants

Yesterday, Coach Petrino announced the addition of Steve Caldwell and Kris Cinkovich to the coaching staff as assistant coaches.

Caldwell, a former Tennessee defensive line coach, is set to coach the Razorbacks defensive ends. Kris Cinkovich will replace Paul Petrino, who recently left to be an offensive coordinator for Illinois, and work with wide receivers.

Caldwell, a former Arkansas State player, spent 14 seasons as a coach at Tennessee. Cinkovich spent the last six seasons on the UNLV staff working with wide receivers. Both coaches are well known for their abilities to coach players and recruit well.

Earlier this week, Coach Petrino announced that defensive ends coach Kirk Botkin will not return. Botkin's departure made room for Caldwell who is a close friend of Coach Petrino.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Redemption for Tejada

The Razorbacks pulled out a W against a very physical East Carolina team at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis last Saturday night in bone chilling cold temperatures. While the Razorback offense was as flat as they possibly could be, only producing a single touchdown, the Razorback defense and special teams stepped up their play by scoring on a Tramain Thomas pick six and a 31 yard interception return for Jerry Franklin, which set up a Tejada field goal. In addition, Tejada hit a field goal in OT for the win.

Fortunately for the Razorbacks, ECU's kicker pulled a Leigh Tiffen missing several field goals late in the game that could have won the game or extended the game. And finally for the Hogs, Alex Tejada kicked and actually made a game winning field goal in overtime. Such kicks had previously plagued the kicker. One need not look further than the LSU and Florida games from this year to remember Tejada's previous meltdown problem.


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Gameday - East Carolina University

WHEN 4:30 p.m. Central today
WHERE Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium (62,380), Memphis
RECORDS Arkansas 7-5; ECU 9-4
RANKINGS Neither team is ranked
BETTING LINE Arkansas by 7 1 /2
COACHES Bobby Petrino (12-12 in second year at Arkansas, 53-21 in sixth year overall);
Skip Holtz (38-26 in fifth year at East Carolina; 72-49 in 10th year overall)
SERIES First meeting
RADIO Razorbacks Sports Network, beginning at 1:30 p.m.