Saturday, on my long day's journey out of Arkansas and back to Oklahoma, I had the opportunity to take a detour from my normal route and stop off in Fayetteville to see a Razorback practice for myself. Even though I went to school at the UofA for two years for a graduate degree, I don't recall ever stopping off and watching practice. I think I was consumed with being a graduate student and just had my priorities all mixed up, haha.
But yesterday I could dedicate some of my time to watching the Hogs practice for the 09 season without any worries other than getting home a little later. Here in no particular order are some observations I had from the Saturday practice.
* I got there a little late, so I didn't get the handout with the roster numbers, but I didn't need it to know that number 15 was Ryan Mallett. He is the Paul Bunyan that everyone has described him as. Instead of a blue ox, there is a giant red pig that follows him around.
* Tejada looked good during the kick off drills. He boomed some into the endzone.
* I am excited about Brandon Mitchell and his potential at quarterback. I can't point to anything specific, but he just looked like he belongs behind center.
* Fans can move around the field as long as they stay off of it. But many fans stayed right in the little shade that existed, and I can't say as I blame them. There was plenty of sun to go around.
* We have a practice field that is artificial and one that is natural grass. That makes perfect sense, but funny how I had never thought of it before. But I like even more the fact that we'll practice now inside the stadium where we'll play our games. I wonder if we'll use the natural grass for away games when we'll play on natural grass?
* Some are wearing a different type helmet. The hog and the red are the same, (PLEASE, never change that) but there are some helmets that have a horizontal indenture of some kind across the back and aren't smooth and rounded like the older helmets. I like the older look, but maybe this new design is a safety feature.
* Greg Childs got a lot of balls thrown his way.
* Seemed like all the qb's were throwing underneath a lot.
* Players run from one drill to the next. No walking. Hussle, hussle, hussle.
* Brandon Barnett (So I was told) had a harness attached to him and an assistant coach on the other end. They looked like a farmer with his horse plowing a field out there. I am sure this was part of some type of leg strengthening excerise.
* Pity the poor camera people, two in cherry pickers, two on the stadium, who stand on high all three hours taping the practice under that hot, Arkansas sun.
* I resisted the urge to ask Reggie Fish what was he thinking during the SEC Championship game. In fact, everyone was respectful from what I could tell and didn't bother the players as they went about their business of practice.
* Reggie Fish and I are indeed the same size, i.e. short. But that is kinda neat because it gave me a chance to see up close what I would look like if I had pursued college football. Not that it was ever anything I considered. I belong in the stands!
* If something big happened during the third hour, I wasn't there to see it. I had had enough of the sun and decided to get back on the road. That our players endure that type of heat day after day is a credit to them.
If you have the opportunity to stop by and watch a practice, I recommend that you do. Unless you have a sideline pass or seats in the front row for the season, it is as close as you'll get to see the Hogs in action. Bring your own water and some sunscreen. You'll need both. And hurry, because after the 21st, I believe, the Hogs go all Dick Cheney on us and close the practices to the public. But, hey, if that is what it takes to effectively carpet bomb and run over some SEC teams this year, I am all for it.