Friday Grid Update, 8/23

Arkansas head football coach Bret Bielema put his team through a mock game on Friday to end preseason camp with game week practices set to begin on Sunday.

Eight days before the first real game of the 2013 season, Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema put his squad through a mock one on Friday.

The Razorbacks dressed out in the home and away uniforms and went through pre-scripted, game-type situations ahead of a day off on Saturday.

"We came in and met this morning and went over yesterday's practice and then we did a pretty extensive mock game," Bielema said. "It started with a team meeting over in the old facility - which will be our game-day locker room.

"...We made it a little more game-day specific, took them out on the field and practiced exactly where we will come on and off the field, how we will break down into positional groupings, how we will break into the rest of pre game, how we will take off the field after pregame to how we will come on the field before pregame," Bielema added. "Just dotting a lot of the Is and crossing a lot of Ts."

He noted that Razorback offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, tight ends coach Barry Lunney, Jr., and defensive coordinator Chris Ash will all be in the coaches box on game day while the rest of the full-time assistants will be on the field.

Arkansas, who will open its season a week from Saturday against Louisiana-Lafayette, will get back to practice on Sunday after its day off on Saturday.

"I have traditionally done that with my teams," Bielema said. "The main mission now is to get their legs back under them, figure out where we are as coaches and who is with us for game-week prep.

"We started on University of Louisiana on Wednesday, had some other stuff earlier in camp, but really from Wednesday forward we have concentrated on them," Bielema added. "They are a very, very good football team - offense, defense, special teams. Very well coached and it is easy to see why they win a lot of games."

Bielema notes that he was happy with the way preseason camp went for the Arkansas.

"I was very excited," Bielema said. "There wasn't anything on my checklist that we didn't get to. Obviously the only bump in the road was that three or four days where we had like a kid get injured each day. Not a season-ending one, other than (wideout) Demetrius (Wilson), but (senior tight end) Austin Tate is a good football player. You only lose him for four weeks, but that is a significant loss and you have to have the next guy step in."

While wide receiver Javontee Herndon was back practicing, Bielema did note that true freshman offensive lineman Reeve Koehler will redshirt due to a dislocated kneecap he suffered a couple of weeks ago, but kept to himself.

Bielema refused to concentrate on losing players due to injury.

"Injuries are a part of football," Bielema said. "I never look at it any other way than that. If somebody goes down, it's just the next man in. Nobody else in college football is going to feel sorry for you so don't start yourself."

Bielema noted the players that he was looking at in the return game.

"The starting kick returner will probably be Eric Hawkins and combination of one of these three people - Nate Holmes and Drew Morgan," Bielema said. "As a punt returner, I think Javontee Herndon will be back there right now with a possibility of Melvinson Hartfield. Obviously you have some concern with a true freshman. D.J. Dean has looked really good as a punt returner as well."

Hartfield is in the mix at both wideout and punt returner despite getting to camp over a week late.

"Melvinson is very, very fast," Bielema said. "That's not just a myth. He is fast. The kids recognize it. He catches the ball very efficiently. He made an over-the-shoulder catch two days ago that was big time.

"Drew Morgan, the more things he can do as he gets more comfortable," Bielema said. "The game got big on him for about a week, but not he has kind of settled back in to a groove and is fun to watch."

Arkansas' players show off its home and away uniforms before Friday's mock game with cornerback Ray Buchanan, Jr. (28) and Alex Voelzke (46) leading the way.

Arkansas' players enter the field for Friday's mock game.

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