Four Downs: Petrino Will Call Plays From Field This Season


1. On The Field

Arkansas assistant Paul Petrino has spent much of his career as an offensive coordinator working in the skybox on game days.

Petrino had his eyes on things for his brother Bobby Petrino throughout his two-year run with the Razorbacks. He spent much of his tenure as Illinois’ offensive coordinator working up top as well, seeing the game from a different perspective.

But Petrino will be manning another post when the Razorbacks open the season against Jacksonville State on Saturday. He’ll be calling plays from the sideline.

“It’s no different that it was every day in a scrimmage, every day in a practice,” Petrino said. “It’s just, you’re just not sitting down. …

“You’re just down there amongst the guys, but you’ll still be doing the same thing.”

It’s not completely new for Petrino. He said there were two games at Illinois where he worked from the field. Petrino said there are pros and cons to being at field level, but added the decision to stay downstairs now is based on his strong working relationship with Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson.

“We’ve hit it off through spring ball through all the scrimmages,” Petrino said. “I didn’t want to lose that. I wanted to be able to look in his eyes. I want him to see me.

“I want to be able to talk to him all the time and keep him at the level he’s been playing at. Keep his confidence up. Keep him going. Be able to go over and talk to the receivers. Be able to talk to the running backs.”

Petrino assisted his brother in play-calling duties when the two teamed at Arkansas, but will be on his own Saturday. The Razorbacks don’t expect any drop-off in production, though, with Petrino running the offense this season.

“We know what we can do,” Hamilton said. “We just have to go out there and do it.”

2. Fisher Did It

Arkansas running back Knile Davis revealed the first Razorback who tackled him during last Friday’s mock game: redshirt freshman Kelvin Fisher Jr.

Davis said he earned about five carries during the scrimmage, which was his first full contact work since last August’s ankle injury. Davis confirmed he fumbled the ball at the end of his first run, but said the ground caused it to come free.

“I got the little fumble out of the way,” Davis said. “Glad it didn’t happen the first game. That’s exactly why I really wanted to go. I wanted to make sure everything was right before I stepped out there this weekend. We did that.”

Davis will be ready to go for the season opener, although Petrino said how many carries he’ll receive is to be determined. He said Davis isn’t “on a pitch count.”

“We’re just going to go out there and play and see how it goes,” Petrino said.

3. Hurricane Evacuation

Wide receiver Brandon Mitchell said roughly 12 to 15 members of his family have temporarily moved in with him in Fayetteville because of Hurricane Isaac. Mitchell, who is from Amite, La., said his family will be staying in town through the game.

“I’ve been blessed,” Mitchell said. “My grandparents saw me play my first game in college my redshirt freshman year, saw me throw my first collegiate pass and now they get to see me make my first collegiate start (at receiver).”

Mitchell said it poses a challenge, though. Mitchell, his brother, defensive end Chris Smith and safety Jerry Mitchell share a house now occupied by about 18 people.

“It’s going to be different. It’ll probably be wild and crazy,” Mitchell said. “There’s a lot of kids and a lot of my cousins and my parents. I’ve got to stay focused and get ready for the game this weekend. It’s great seeing them, but at the same time I’ve got a job to do this weekend. I have to make sure I prepare for it.”

4. Extra Points

It’s no surprise Wilson will start the season opener at quarterback, but Petrino said backup Brandon Allen his get his first career snaps as well. “We’re going to play that by ear, but he is going to play,” Petrino said. “There is no question.” … Is receiver Cobi Hamilton surprised Mitchell and Mekale McKay have earned starting spots at receivers? Hamilton: “That’s a lineup that I would never picture in my mind day one in camp. I never would’ve thought of it.” … Linebackers Alonzo Highsmith and Tenarius Wright, safety Eric Bennett and wide receiver Keante Minor all participated in the portion of practice open to the media Tuesday. All four, who missed time in the preseason with injuries, are expected to play Saturday.

— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau