Bret Bielema didn't need much of a question from the media to urge Razorback Nation once again to be the difference maker on third downs in the season opener and going forward. He wants noise on third down when teams are trying to change plays in the face of defensive movements and adjustments.
And, he might want it more than just on third down this week against Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns and a spread offense that doesn't huddle and makes calls at the line of scrimmage. He wants things difficult for UL quarterback Terrance Broadway as he translates the plays to the team at the line of scrimmage.
The new Arkansas head coach has spent some time in the offseason thinking about creative ways for the UA fans to help with the home advantage. One of the new creations is a collective WOOOO!!! cheer as the opposing offense comes to the ball that leads into PIG!!! at the snap.
"I hope it works," Bielema said. "A former (student) suggested it. So many stadiums I've been in have great advantage for the home team because of the crowd. We have the most passionate fans. When an offense is trying to change plays, and they are not in a huddle, we can make it difficult."
Bielema said he's not nervous about his first game as UA head coach.
"When you pour your heart into something, you don't get nervous," he said. "I might be anxious and excited, but it's not nerves.
"I do think there will be some adjustments to make and it will be interesting to see how our players react. Championships are won because of the way players handle adversity. It's why some teams triumph."
Bielema feels good about the health of the team. He noted Thursday that both Javontee Herndon and Keon Hatcher, slowed by injuries in camp, were back at practice this week. Hatcher has missed the last two weeks, but had solid practices this week.
Linebacker Otha Peters may be close to a return after breaking an arm early in camp. Bielema said he's optimistic that the sophomore could be back in two weeks.
"I might be optimistic, but I saw him with the soft cast and he was running the stadium steps," Bielema said. "He's a true middle linebacker. I think he might be back sooner than we thought."
One of the question marks coming into the season was right tackle where sophomore Grady Ollison is a first-time starter.
"Grady had his two best back-to-back practices Tuesday and Wednesday," Bielema said. "He is gifted and I think it has finally dawned on him how good he can be. I do think No. 55 (Denver Kirkland) has made him better."
The Hogs have practiced in tougher heat this week and face game-time temperatures close to 100 for Saturday at the 3 p.m. kickoff. Bielema said that might be a factor in how depth is used early in the game and special team choices. But he said it didn't factor into decision on playing more players.
"I think we may play more early," he said. "Maybe we get some guys in on the second series. Maybe we don't play some offensive and defensive starters on special teams. That may not have been the case if it wasn't going to be close to 100."
The practice schedule didn't change. The Hogs were fully padded Wednesday before backing off on Thursday.
"We did the full grind rodeo yesterday and it was one of our better practices," Bielema said. "As far as injuries, there is no new news. Herndon has been back and Hatcher was back the last two days. Defensively, we've got everyone."
Thursday Grid Update, 8/29
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