Younger Petrino keeping up with receivers

Published Wednesday, April 09, 2008

FAYETTEVILLE At first, the sight of Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino sprinting down the practice field while hollering at a wide receiver to "Go! Go!" caught many observers by surprise.

Even the wide receivers didn't know how to take it. Whether they made the catch or not, there was Petrino trailing behind them, insisting they run another 40 yards after the play.

But after nearly a week of spring practices, the Razorbacks have grown accustomed to seeing their normally mild-mannered offensive coordinator chasing after the wide receivers.

"Yeah, he's crazy," Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said of his younger brother, who's also the team's wide receivers coach. "(He) stays in good shape, though."

Paul Petrino demands that his wide receivers finish plays, something that has been a particular problem for the unit over the past few years.

He makes the wide receivers run 40 yards after a catch, and it doesn't matter if they get tackled or drop the football. They need to get up, pick up the ball and continue sprinting down the field even after the play is over.

And it's become common over the past week to see Paul Petrino running right behind the wide receivers, either to give them a high-five or make sure they don't stop before reaching the end zone.

"That guy is faster than most of us," Arkansas wide receiver Lucas Miller said. "He's right there in our face."

Or not that far behind.

"At first, it was kind of weird," fellow wide receiver Marques Wade said. "But now that he does it and (I) know what kind of guy he is, it's good."

Paul Petrino said the idea behind making the wide receivers run after the play is over is to teach them to finish strong. He wants it to be second nature to them by the time the season rolls around in the fall.

"No matter what we're going to sprint," Paul Petrino said. "If you do it every single day, it becomes effort, habit and that's when you're going to get a bunch of yards after the catch and get the big plays."

Arkansas' receiving corp has underachieved over the past few years, and there were times when individual players didn't come close to finishing a play in a game. But the unit is expected to be more involved in the team's revamped offense.

That means running 40 yards in practice.

Several times during Tuesday's practice, Paul Petrino hustled after junior London Crawford and redshirt freshman Joe Chaisson to make sure they sprinted the final few yards. He wanted them to finish strong.

"We struggled with that a lot (in the past), catching the ball and running back to the huddle," Crawford said. "But now we're moving ourselves up to regardless if you fall down on the ground, you get up and sprint 40 yards after the catch.

"I think that made us a lot better receiving corp."

Bob Petrino, the former football coach at Carroll (Mont.) College, said he's not sure when his son started running after his wide receivers in practice. But he doesn't think Paul Petrino got it from him.

Paul Petrino got his start as his father's quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator at Carroll College in the early 1990s. And it wasn't long before he was chasing after wide receivers, insisting that they don't stop running until they get to the end zone.

"He's done that wherever he's coached, so I don't know if he got it from me. I don't think he got it from me," Bob Petrino said. "He just picked it up himself."

And one thing is apparent at the sight of the 40-year-old Paul Petrino keeping up with wide receivers half his age.

"Well, he's in good shape," his father said.

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