The ‘F-Word’ Is In Full Effect as Petrino Watches Hogs Occasionally Mess Up in Practice

Bobby Petrino, Arkansas football
photo credit: Craven Whitlow

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas is only four days into spring practice, but Bobby Petrino seems to have mellowed out over the decade-plus since his fall from grace.

The image seared into fans’ brains from his tenure as head coach from 2008-11 is one of an offensive genius screaming at players and hurling expletives to anyone and everyone. Now back in Fayetteville as an offensive coordinator, none of that has been observed during three practices open to reporters.

There was certainly an opportunity for the old Petrino to come through early in Tuesday’s practice, though. Twice in a span of only a few snaps, tight end Var’keyes Gumms messed up a drill by running a route when it wasn’t his turn.

Rather than blowing up on the redshirt junior, Petrino just laughed and moved on to the next rep.

However, that’s not to say he hasn’t been coaching up the offense. His coaching style may just be different as a coordinator compared to head coach, as he’s appeared to be laser focused on the quarterbacks and installing the playbook that produced high-octane offenses at multiple stops, including Arkansas, and a Heisman Trophy winner at Louisville.

It turns out the 63-year-old might have been telling the truth when he talked about how he’s changed when he met with the media following his hiring.

“When Jimbo (Fisher) lost his job, I thought I wanted to still coach, just because of how much I enjoyed being in the classroom with the quarterbacks, spending time with the offense, just coaching football, teaching,” Petrino said on Nov. 30. “It was fun being back in the meeting room and teaching. I started getting in this profession as a teacher, so it was really fun to get back and do that.”

It’s not just Best of Arkansas Sports noticing the difference in Petrino, either.

Apparently his reputation preceded him because the players — all of whom would have been in elementary school when Petrino was the Razorbacks’ head coach — seem to be aware of what fans remember.

“Just do everything fast, make sure you’re where you are, make sure you got your plays down, make sure you’re in the playbook,” wide receiver Andrew Armstrong said. “He won’t yell at you as much as you think he does, he’ll just make sure you got the plays going. I feel like Coach Petrino has come in and done and done an astonishing job of helping us learn plays and things like that.”

Longtime broadcaster Mike Irwin of Pig Trail Nation recently described Petrino as a “pissed off tornado” during his first tenure in Fayetteville, but he, too, has observed the difference.

“I was somewhat skeptical but in these first few days he has indeed been different,” Irwin wrote on Twitter. “Going all the way back to December I’ve been told that Petrino the OC is going to be different from Petrino the HC.

“He still knows his stuff and he will turn this offense around. But don’t expect the human tornado of 2010.”

Perhaps the explanation is as simple as Petrino mellowing out as he’s gotten older or maybe he’s been humbled considering the way things ended at Arkansas last time and how his second tenure at Louisville finished. After all, he’d dropped down to the FCS ranks to coach at Missouri State and accepted an offensive coordinator position at UNLV before taking the same role at Texas A&M.

Older folks may credit it to “this generation” of athletes, who might not be as receptive to the hard-core coaching style in the era of NIL and transfer portal.

It could also be Petrino’s way of respecting Pittman’s authority as head coach. Despite his reputation as a player’s coach, Pittman has been getting on players at practice and even using a curse word or two in the process, so Petrino may not feel the need to do all of that extra stuff and can just focus on ball.

Regardless of the reason, there is a new “F-word” being thrown around at practice — much to the chagrin of former tight end D.J. Williams.

“It’s really fun to be a part of cause there’s so much going on, and he kind of just lets us play as offensive linemen, just run,” offensive lineman Fernando Carmona said. “Get going and be physical at the same time, so it’s been a lot of fun.”

Whether that “fun” results in more wins this fall remains to be seen, but it’s still the same Petrino from an X’s and O’s standpoint and it’s probably a safe bet that the Razorbacks will be much improved offensively because of his presence, cursing or not.

“I think anytime you’re quoted as a ‘good’ coach or a ‘brilliant’ coach or whatever the terms that Bobby’s had, it’s your ability, first and foremost, to teach,” Pittman said Friday. “Then obviously your mind has to be a little bit different than others’, which his is. But it’s the ability to teach, it’s the ability to communicate, and he’s exceptional at that.”

Day 4 Spring Practice Observations

Here are a few other observations and tidbits from the Razorbacks’ fourth day of spring ball, which was outside on the turf practice field on a slightly chilly and windy Tuesday morning…

  • After working out in shorts and helmets only the first two days of practice, Arkansas was in shoulder pads on Tuesday, allowing for an uptick in physicality. (Sunday’s practice was closed to the media.)
  • On the injury front, wide receiver Jaedon Wilson – who tweaked his hamstring late in Friday’s practice – was able to go through individual drills, but did not participate in team segments. Instead, he got some work on the side. Wide receiver Bryce Stephens was also out, as were a couple of previously injured players: freshman offensive lineman Zuri Madison (ACL) and tight end Ty Washington (shoulder).
  • Freshman linebacker Justin Logan was still the only player in a green non-contact jersey. Offensive lineman Amaury Wiggins, who recently had some cartilage trimmed in his knee, was back at practice full-go, as well.
  • At quarterback, Taylen Green once again took every snap with the first-team offense. Behind him, Jacolby Criswell took more second-team reps Tuesday than he had the first two days combined. He split the reps with Malachi Singleton, who also got third-team work, with true freshman KJ Jackson getting snaps with both units.
  • Generally speaking, it wasn’t a great day for the quarterbacks. Between the 7-on-7 and team periods, they threw two interceptions and had six would-be interceptions dropped by defenders. Here’s a look at their unofficial completion percentages, as charted by Best of Arkansas Sports:
    • Green: 12 of 24 (50%), 1 INT, 1 dropped INT
    • Singleton: 11 of 19 (57.9%), 1 INT
    • Criswell: 6 of 10 (60%), 2 dropped INTs
    • Jackson: 5 of 15 (33.3%), 3 dropped INTs
  • The first interception was by Marquise Robinson, who caught a badly thrown ball by Singleton almost like a punt, as he had to wait for it to fall into his arms. The second was a really nice play by Jaylon Braxton, who jumped a route in the red zone for a pick-six against Green.
  • Even though the Razorbacks still weren’t tackling to ground, as they weren’t in full pads, there were a couple of fumbles – both by freshmen. Wide receiver CJ Brown, who’s looked good, caught a pass in the middle of the field and was stripped by Doneiko Slaughter. TJ Metcalf jumped on it to complete the turnover. Later in practice, running back Braylen Russell took a handoff and was immediately greeted in the backfield, with Landon Jackson getting his hand in there to strip it. It was also recovered by the defense, but we couldn’t tell by whom.
  • The defense certainly “won” the practice, in our opinion. In addition to those plays, a few interior linemen managed to generate some pressure, with Ian Geffrard and Kaleb James notching sacks and Cam Ball drawing a critical holding penalty to wipe out a big pass in two-minute drill. Landon Jackson also made some plays in the backfield other than the forced fumble, Anton Juncaj immediately stuffed a run play in the backfield, Quincy Rhodes Jr. beat E’Marion Harris to draw a holding penalty and both Hudson Clark and Doneiko Slaughter made really nice pass breakups.
  • One offensive player who really stood out, though, was redshirt sophomore Davion Dozier. He seemed to catch everything thrown to him, including one pass where he had to go up and catch it over the defender (albeit it was walk-on Aidan McCowan). Several other of his catches were noted as “tough” or “nice” in our notes, as well.
  • It’s also worth noting that wide receiver Jordan Anthony has rejoined the team after competing in the NCAA Indoor Championships with the track team last weekend. It was his first day back, but what immediately jumped out to us was his tendency to try to catch passes with his body rather than his hands. That could lead to drops.

Special Teams Nuggets

This was the Razorbacks’ first open practice outdoors, so it was our first opportunity to get a good look at the kickers and punters. Here are a few special teams takeaways…

  • It was just one day, but it seems pretty clear that Hawaii transfer Matthew Shipley is the top kicker. He booted a 53-yard field goal with plenty of leg to cap a two-minute drill, plus made kicks from 26, 36 and 38 yards out in a field goal period. Each of the kicks were right down the middle.
  • Shipley’s top competitor is believed to be Vito Calvaruso, the kickoff extraordinaire who spent one year at Wisconsin before transferring back to Arkansas. However, he badly missed a 47-yard field goal to cap a two-minute drill and then missed from 32 (wide left) and 36 yards (wide right) before finally connecting from 38. Perhaps it was just a bad day for him, but that was the book on Calvaruso a couple years ago – he can kick it a country mile on kickoffs, but lacks the accuracy needed for field goals.
  • Redshirt freshman Kyle Gallegos, a walk-on from Argyle, Texas, attempted a pair of kicks during the field goal period and was successful from 26 and 32 yards out. The first thing you’ll notice about him? He’s left-footed.
  • There was a period of punting, but it’s unclear if the punters were fully turned loose or if they were told to hold back and not try to punt it as far as they can. That said, Max Fletcher is the clear leader to once again be the starter. His punts were consistently further and had better hang time than those of both Devin Bale and Sam Dubwig. Bale had an ugly 25-yarder and Dubwig shanked one so badly it left the practice field. Each of them did boot a 45-yarder on their last punt of the period, though.
  • Not surprisingly, wide receiver Isaiah Sategna was the “starting” punt returner, meaning he caught the first few punts of the period. Cornerback Jaylon Braxton followed him, but did muff his first attempt. Safety Dylan Hasz also caught some, with wide receiver Jordan Anthony standing close by and talking with a coach as they watched. He’ll probably get an opportunity as both a punt and kickoff returner at some point because of his elite speed.

Arkansas Football Injury Report

  • WR Jaedon Wilson (hamstring): Pulled his hamstring late in Friday’s practice. Participated in individual drills Tuesday, but not team.
  • WR Bryce Stephens (undisclosed): Did not participate in practice Tuesday.
  • LB Justin Logan (undisclosed): Still in a green non-contact jersey Tuesday morning, the third day in a row.
  • OL Amaury Wiggins (knee): Returned to practice after missing the first couple days of spring ball because of having some cartilage trimmed.
  • TE Ty Washington (shoulder): Still recovering from surgery to repair a dislocated shoulder suffered against Florida. Pittman is hopeful he can catch some passes after spring break, but they’re going to be careful with him.
  • OL Zuri Madison (ACL): Tore his ACL in a scooter accident a few days before spring ball. It’s likely to be a season-ending injury, but he could potentially get ready for a bowl game. However, as a true freshman on the offensive line, he was probably a redshirt candidate anyways.

Arkansas Football Unofficial Depth Chart

This is how the Razorbacks lined up during their first team period in practice. Players may have rotated and lined up differently in later periods, with the offensive skill positions rotating quite a bit.


QBTaylen GreenMalachi SingletonJacolby Criswell
RBRashod DubinionJa’Quinden JacksonIsaiah Augustave
TELuke HaszVar’keyes GummsAndreas Paaske
WRTyrone BrodenCJ BrownDazmin James
WRIsaiah SategnaJordan AnthonyWalker Catsavis
WRAndrew ArmstrongIsaac TeSlaaDavion Dozier
LTFernando CarmonaE’Marion HarrisTommy Varhall
LGPatrick KutasJosh StreetParis Patterson
CAddison NicholsAmaury WigginsBrooks Edmonson
Tim Dawn
RGJoshua BraunKobe BranhamLuke Brown
RTKeyshawn BlackstockTy’Kieast CrawfordAaron Smith


  • After not participating in the “fastball” period on Friday, Dubinion was with the 1s in the first team period Tuesday. That moved Jackson to the second unit and Augustave to the third unit.
  • The second-team offense had been going in 12-personnel in the “fastball” period, but that wasn’t the case Tuesday. That led to a pecking order of Hasz, Gumms and Paaske. There were periods of 12-personnel later in practice, though.
  • At wide receiver, Anthony went with the second-team offense in the slot, followed by Catsavis (a walk-on). Dozier got reps with the 3s initially, but he also got work with the 2s. The same can be said about Brown, who got reps with the 1s.
  • The starting offensive line stayed the same, but with Wiggins back in the mix, he slotted in as the second-team center, with Edmonson rotating in some with the 2s. On the third unit, the tackles and guards swapped sides.


DELandon JacksonQuincy Rhodes Jr.
DTCameron BallKeivie Rose
DTEric GregoryKaleb James
DENico DavillierAnton Juncaj
LBBrad SpenceAlex Sanford
LBXavian Sorey Jr.Carson Dean
NBLorando JohnsonDoneiko SlaughterTevis Metcalf
CBKee’yon StewartJaheim SingletarySelman Bridges
SJayden JohnsonTJ MetcalfRJ Johnson
SHudson ClarkMiguel MitchellAhkhari Johnson
CBJaylon BraxtonMarquise RobinsonJaden Allen


  • We only got the two-deep for the defensive line and linebackers.
  • Up front, James ran with the second-team unit, replacing Ian Geffrard as the second defensive tackle next to Rose.
  • There seems to be a battle for the second starting spot at cornerback opposite of Braxton, as Stewart and Singletary continue to rotate. Stewart was with the 1s first Tuesday. There were no other changes in the secondary.


Obviously, a huge question mark for 2024 is how much Arkansas’ offensive line improves, assuming it can’t possibly repeat the nightmare (or do worse) of 2023. Lineman Fernando Carmona, the transfer from San Jose State, said that folks are telling him the communication is a lot better so far this spring practice.

“They’re all like ‘Man, the way you guys are talking this year. The way you guys are bonding together.’ It’s more of the other people noticing what we’re doing and how we’re changing.,” he said on Tuesday. “I just think in the offensive line room, we’re just trying to flush it and not really think about it. This is a whole new group of guys and we’re rolling with these guys and that’s all that matters right now.”

Here’s some more insight into the the new Bobby Petrino offense:

Eric Gregory: Well, they’re throwing a lot. They’re throwing a lot at us, so we’ve got to stay on our game. There’s something new every day, so we can’t just be focused on what they did the day before, cause they’ll then throw something new in the next day. We’ve got to be on our toes. It’s really helping us a lot. 

Carmona: Like he said, there’s a lot of stuff in, and as an offensive guy there’s a lot to process, but it makes it kind of easier on you. They’re trying to guess on what we’re doing, but we have, it feels like almost a million things going on at one time. But it’s really fun to be a part of cause there’s so much going on, and he kind of just lets us play as offensive linemen. Just run. Get going and be physical at the same time, so it’s been a lot of fun. 

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Player Interviews

Offensive lineman Fernando Carmona, defensive tackle Eric Gregory and tight end Luke Hasz met with reporters following Tuesday’s practice.

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