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Arkansas football fall practice begins 

John Thomas


FAYETTEVILLE - The University of Arkansas football team conducted its first practice of the 2011 season on Thursday. With head coach Bobby Petrino entering his fourth year at the helm and the team fresh off its first BCS berth in the Sugar Bowl, this year’s team is ready to embark on another successful season.

One of the first things that caught Coach Petrino’s eye was the talent of the group of newcomers for this season.

“It was good to see that freshman group and some of the sophomores,” said Coach Petrino. “I thought we got a lot accomplished, they learned how to practice and it was new to them. The tempo, intensity and the volume was new to them. You can really tell the difference in the guys that were here last year and the brand new guys. I do really feel like it’s a talented group, particularly at the defensive line and the secondary.”

Practices were split into two sessions, with newcomers going first prior to the veterans, who practiced later in the day. With the split practices, Coach Petrino was able to notice that the defense looked great on the first day.

“There’s no question the defense is ahead of the offense,” he said. “That’s probably because they know what they’re doing and I’m encouraged by their intensity and how they executed.”

On the other side of the ball, Coach Petrino said it was the group of running backs who had the best practice overall.

“The running backs were very good today, especially in the drill work,” said Coach Petrino. “They are really concentrating on getting to their speed as quick as they can and that will allow us to get some big runs when we get our front blocked.”

With the start of a new practice season, the Razorbacks also practiced under a little change of scenery from years past. Both practice sessions were held on the intramural fields, just down the road from Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Coach Petrino said that the move was something they had been thinking about all summer.

“It took us the entire summer to decide to do this,” he said. “We had a great grounds crew that came down and worked extremely hard on it all summer and getting it in condition where we can practice. We really are just looking for more room. We want to be able to have that type of space for our individual drills and everything we need to do to get better. I think it will really help us for the next week and a half.”

Thursday’s first practice was also the first look at the newly appointed captains for the 2011 season: Jake Bequette, Jerry Franklin, Jerico Nelson, Jarius Wright, Knile Davis and Tyler Wilson.

“I think the players did a good job in selection with the captains,” Coach Petrino said. “We waited this year to select them, but when you look at who they are with Bequette and Franklin, who were captains a year ago. Jericho Nelson has been starting for four years, making all kinds of plays and a tremendous leader by example even though he’s not the most vocal guy in the world. Knile has really taken over a leadership role ever since we got back from the bowl game, just quietly leading from the front. Then, with the vote of Tyler, it just shows his hard work ever since we got back from the bowl game.”

Arkansas will return to practice Friday with workouts for the newcomers starting at 3 p.m. and then the veterans beginning at 6:30 p.m. Practices will remain open to the public through August 20, excluding Aug. 14 and Aug. 18. The team is scheduled to practice on the intramural fields, located next to the Dills Indoor Tennis Courts, from Aug. 4-17.

The Razorbacks will kick off the 2011 football season inside Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium against Missouri State on Sept. 3. The game is set for a 6 p.m. kickoff and will be available on pay-per-view.



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