Arkansas prepares for Florida


- University of Arkansas head football coach Bobby Petrino, quarterback Ryan Mallett and kick returner Dennis Johnson met with the media at a press conference on Monday.  Below is a brief transcript.

Head Coach Bobby Petrino

On heading into the Florida game:

"Our confidence is higher. We've played two good games back-to-back. We've seen ourselves perform well on film. We went out and played well in all three phases. It will be a challenge. We believe we can go and win the game. We need to play with good technique and fundamentals and try and match their speed."

On the play of Dennis Johnson:

"Dennis has done an excellent job. He got SEC Special Teams Player of the Week again. His returns were huge. He gave us a short field that allowed us to go in and score. He's a guy that really understands what we're doing scheme-wise and then he's fast enough and quick enough to make plays on his own."

On Florida's defense:

"They're good. They're fast. They're big and they can play a lot of guys. They basically have two-deep at every position. We have to do a good job blocking up front and being patient. They have done a good job all year creating negative plays and putting opposing offenses in second and longs and third and longs. That's why they're tough, it allows them to tee-off on third downs."

On the play of Elton Ford:

"He's really done well in his pass coverage since coming back. I'm really impressed he's been able to come back from his broken neck. It was a concern coming into this season, and then he hurt his ankle a little bit. The whole time you're wondering, as a coaching staff, 'how's he going to react?' And we've really seen no hesitation at all. He's done an excellent job coming downhill and making tackles."

On Florida's offense:

"Their running backs can go the distance every time they touch the ball, and that's a scary thought. They've done a good job with the read-option, whether they're giving the ball or (Tim) Tebow is keeping it. You have to stay assignment oriented and make sure your eyes are exactly the way they're supposed to be and know what gaps you're responsible for. They run (the spread) a little bit different than everyone else in the world as far as getting it downhill and it's all because they have fast running backs. All they need is a little crease and they're gone."

On motivation playing the No. 1 team in the nation:

"You don't need a lot of motivation to get ready for this game. Our guys will be ready and they know what's at stake. It's a great opportunity to go play at their stadium and play another game on national TV and show that we are a better football team. That's the motivation."

Quarterback Ryan Mallett

On the Florida game:

"We've got two wins in a row right now so we are rolling a little bit.  We've got to prepare and get ready to execute. We are going to go out there and prepare like we are the best team in the country.  That's how we have to prepare for this team.  We really have to execute on the stuff that we need to be executing on."

On how the Auburn game compares with the Alabama game:

"It's a complete 180 as far as the Alabama game compared to this past game. We know we can play better ball than what we did at Alabama and that gives us a better chance. We just can't shoot ourselves in the foot and we can't make bad decisions penalty wise."

On Florida's defense:

"They are experienced in the secondary and they always have a fast team. I think it will be a good test for our wide-outs and up front. This is a chance to see how we perform against a big time team.  We just have to execute."

On the running backs' role against Florida:

"We are definitely confident. Our guys have stepped up for the past five weeks. From week to week, they keep getting better. I have all the confidence with the guys behind me."

On confidence going into the game against Florida:

"The two wins going into this game really helped us. We are on top of the mountain right now because we haven't had a loss the past two weeks. We have to prepare for one of the best teams in the country. Your mental focus has to be there throughout the week. We have to get in there and study film. It's going to be a lot of fun."

On Michael Smith's performance against Auburn:

"When Mike gets going, it helps open up our passing game. They couldn't focus on us throwing the ball. Mike had a good game and that helped him with his confidence because he hasn't been able to break loose like that. It was good for him to get those yards. The holes were there for him to get through and the O-line blocked well the whole game."

Kick returner Dennis Johnson

On his special team role:

"They asked me last year to be a kick returner. I didn't think I was going to do as well as I'm doing."

On UA special teams' coordinator John L. Smith:

"He helps me a lot. I go to his office to watch the other kick off teams. He shows me where the holes are at and breaks things down for me."


University of Arkansas Media Relations