By ROBBIE NEISWANGER
Arkansas News Bureau
FAYETTEVILLE — Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said earlier this week he hadn’t spent much time watching Arkansas game film, instead devoting most of his attention to recruiting while his team took a break for final exams.
"I’ve had a chance to watch some," Tressel said Wednesday. "Not near as much as I’m going to have a chance to watch."
Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said he and his staff have been recruiting, too, during the team’s break. But he had found a way to take a good, long look at Ohio State.
"I’ve seen a lot," Petrino said.
Either way, both teams will get to know much more about each other as on-campus bowl practices ramp up before Christmas. The Razorbacks — who were off the field for seven of the previous eight days for final exams — went back to work on Thursday in preparation for the 2011 Sugar Bowl on Jan. 4.
Petrino said it was no surprise his team looked like it hadn’t practiced in awhile after the long layoff. But it was expected.
"We’ve got some rust," Petrino said. "We’ve got to work off the rust and get back and execute and do the things we know how to do.
"But we’ve got plenty of time to do that."
Arkansas will practice again Friday and Saturday. The Razorbacks will be on the field Monday through Thursday next week before the team is released to go home for the holiday.
Petrino said the long process is common when preparing for a bowl game. The goal, he said, is to be patient and not go "all out" from the very start because the layoff is lengthy.
"We need to be ready on Jan. 4, not on the 23 (days) before we go home for Christmas," Petrino said.
But the six remaining practices will include a variety of elements, Petrino said.
"We’re kind of in the phase right now where we work about half the practice on individual technique, fundamentals and ones versus ones and then half the practice on Ohio State," Petrino said. "When we get back after the weekend, we’ll put almost like a game week toward Ohio State before we send them home."
Oden Not in School
Petrino said tackle Anthony Oden is "not in school right now" and out of school after dealing with mononucleosis during the fall.
"He had some complications, got very, very sick, missed a lot of class, had to withdraw from class," Petrino said. "He should be back at the start of the second semester and have a chance to compete in spring ball."
The 6-foot-8, 328-pound Oden entered the summer expecting to compete for a spot on the offensive line after starting one game in 2009. However, Oden was suspended for the opener after an offseason arrest and never made it onto the field because of the illness.
Mallett on CFB Live
Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett appeared on ESPN’s College Football Live on Thursday, fielding questions about Ohio State, Arkansas’ improved run game and the advantages and disadvantages of being a tall quarterback.
Mallett also was asked about the challenge of blocking out distractions in New Orleans, which he said last week he had never visited.
"It won’t be hard at all," Mallett said. "I’m going down there to win a BCS game and end up in the top 5 (of the final polls)."
Petrino was one of nine coaches nominated for the Bryant Award, which is presented to the coach of the year, on Wednesday. He was asked about the recognition Thursday, but shrugged it off and handed the credit to others.
"Any time you’re a finalist for an award like that or nominated for an award like that, it’s a compliment to our football players. It’s a compliment to our assistant coaches," he said.