After this evening’s dress rehearsal/ mock game closed to media and

the public, the Arkansas Razorbacks at last launch into  game week for their Sept. 4

season-opener against Tennessee Tech.

After this evening’s dress rehearsal/ mock game closed to media and
the public, the Arkansas Razorbacks at last launch into  game week for their Sept. 4
season-opener against Tennessee Tech.

It’s a long time coming for a team that officially  has been practicing since Aug. 5
but really a whole lot longer than that given the winter workouts, spring practice
and “voluntary” summer conditioning.

“I believe we put in more work than anybody in the nation,” junior wide receiver
Greg Childs said. “We have been working since the bowl game (Jan. 2 at the Liberty
Bowl in Memphis)  and we haven’t stopped yet.”

Given the August preseason grind, there’s no week tougher than this about to be
completed week, Coach Bobby Petrino believes.

“This is always the hardest week,” Petrino said. “School starts - you’re two weeks
away from your game - but I like the way we came out and attacked the week and we
got a lot accomplished.”

While called a dress rehearsal, this evening’s mock game is no noncontact frolic.
Petrino said it will be very much like last week’s closed to the public but open to
media scrimmage. That scrimmage had everyone but the quarterbacks getting hit in a
No. 1 offense versus reserves defense and No. 1 defense versus reserves offense
setting.

“ It will be very similar to what we did last week,” Petrino said.  “Maybe a little
bit more kicking game. We have to hit some situations in the kicking game like
kickoff after safety and  kickoff return after a safety. we still have a few things
on our check list that we have to get covered. other than that, we want the game
atmosphere again, the players out on the field playing, the coaches on the sideline,
in the booth working. I think that will really help us when we get to the first
game. It won’t be as many reps as last week but it will be live. We still need to
tackle. we still need to block. and break tackles and run.”

Junior running back Dennis Johnson didn’t run for a second straight day.

No surprise to anyone who has ever had ensuing complications with pulled teeth.

“Dennis had to have wisdom teeth pulled,” Petrino said. “He did have an infection in
there and has got to recover from that. So we’re hoping he’ll be back full speed and
ready to go on Monday.”

Petrino has called running back an undecided 4-way competition between Johnson,
junior Broderick Green and sophomores Knile Davis and Ronnie Wingo.

Reiterating what he said on Media Day the first weekend of August drills, Petrino
asserted Thursday who plays the most running back won’t necessarily be who bests run
the football.

Whose protection best keeps quarterback Ryan Mallett intact is running back priority
one.
“They’re all pretty good at carrying the football,” Petrino said. “But we’ve got to
trust that they’re not going to get the quarterback hit when we call a pass play.
that’s the major evaluation right there.”

Without mentioning Johnson by name, it’s obvious Mallett misses the quick-hitting
junior’s no nonsense style to running the ball.

“We’ve got to run a little bit harder and start running through guys, not make as
many moves,” Mallett said.  “Other than that, I think the backs have done a pretty
good job. The running game is coming along.”

Given redshirt freshman Alvin Bailey’s emergence since last spring as a first-team
offensive guard, the ultimately  best players of a freshman class don’t necessarily
play as true freshmen.

However, given their precocious prowess and the need for depth at their positions,
Petrino acknowledged true freshman defensive tackle Byran Jones of Junction City and
true freshman defensive end Chris Smith of Mount Ulla, N.C. will log time against
Tennessee Tech.

“You always have a few guys,” Petrino said,  “where you say ‘Hey, he’s probably
going to back up, but we want to hold his redshirt like we did last year with Alvin
Bailey. But there’s a couple guys that will play for sure. Byran jones, Chris smith.
they’ve got to go.”

Senior defensive tackle Pat Jones, out awhile with a sprained knee, practiced Thursday.

Sophomore cornerback Darius Winston and sophomore wide receiver Cobi Hamilton both
shrugged off injured hands to practice Thursday, a lighter workout tapering for
tonight’s mock game.