Petrino eyes first win against mentor Price
One of Bobby Petrino’s first college coaching jobs was under
The two have also coached against each other three times, all
when Price was the head coach at Washington State and Petrino a
rising young assistant coach with a knack for teaching offense and
Price has yet to lose to his former pupil, though the Texas-El
Paso coach fully expects the toughest test of that to be Saturday,
when the Miners (6-4, 3-4 Conference USA) take the field at No. 14
The Razorbacks (7-2, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) are on a
three-game winning streak, having won at South Carolina last week.
Led by quarterback Ryan Mallett, Arkansas is second in the country
in passing offense at 353.9 yards per game.
”That was a big game, but every game to us is a big game now,”
Mallett said. ”We’re desperate to win. We have been for 3-4 weeks
It’s an offense Price knows well, having hired Petrino two times
at Weber State. The first time was when Petrino has a graduate
assistant and quarterbacks coach in 1984, and the second was from
1987-88 when Petrino coached wide receivers.
”They’d have trouble against the New York Jets or the New York
Giants,” Price said. ”They might have a chance against the
”They are really, really a good college football team.”
As much praise as Price offered toward Petrino, going as far as
to say his son called Petrino the best coach he’s ever been around,
the Arkansas coach reciprocated nearly as much in return.
”He taught me a lot about quarterback play,” Petrino said of
Price. ”He was really the first guy. When I grew up, we ran the
option and got beat up a bunch. He was the guy that was a big part
of throwing the football in the western part of the United
The Miners started the season 5-1 before a three-game losing
streak in October dampened any hopes of contending for a conference
title. They did, however, rebound with a 28-14 win against Southern
Methodist last week, becoming bowl-eligible for the first time in
five years. It’s only the seventh time in the last 40 years that
UTEP has won six or more games.
That early success has kept Arkansas mindful of the Miners’
ability, as well as the overall importance of Saturday’s game. The
Razorbacks still have conference games at Mississippi State and in
Little Rock against LSU, and if they and Auburn were to win out,
there is still a chance they could earn an at-large BCS bowl
Petrino said the late-season nonconference game comes at a good
time for Arkansas, which is playing its sixth straight week after a
loss to then No. 1 Alabama on Sept. 25. The Razorbacks have won
four of five during that stretch, with their only other loss this
season coming at Auburn on Oct. 16.
”The league games are so intense and we’ve had a good grind
ahead of us,” Petrino said. ”It challenges you a little bit, too.
It challenges you to have maturity in your preparation, have
leadership within the team and stay focused like you always