While Arkansas junior defensive end Trey Flowers was named the SEC's Defensive Lineman of the Week on Monday, a biased Razorback head coach Bret Bielema thought a few more guys should have been honored by the league.
That list includes freshman tailback Alex Collins (131 yards rushing), senior fullback Kiero Small (50 snaps with devastating blocking and a 10-yard touchdown catch) and senior center Travis Swanson (16 knock down blocks) – all who shined in Arkansas' 34-14 win over Louisiana.
"I get mad," Bielema said. "I thought Alex Collins should have been the freshman of the week. You rush for 130. I know the guy from Ole Miss (wide receiver Laquan Treadwell) caught the ball nine times, but we had a freshman tight end (Hunter Henry) that caught the ball seven times and we didn't even nominate him.
"And Swanson, for him to play the level he did, I am sure they have to spread it around, but I can be biased because they are mine," Bielema added.
Flowers had a pair of sacks on Saturday and drew a comparison to former Wisconsin and current Houston Texan defensive end J.J. Watt, one of Bielema's old players.
"The thing about Trey is that he reminds me of my man J.J. Watt in that he gets stronger as the game goes on just because he goes so much harder than everybody else," Bielema said. "There toward the end, he was just kind of having his way with people. And that is what I think you will see show up more than ever."
Flowers had two of the Razorbacks' official number of four sacks although he did not get credit for a third by himself – and instead just a fumble caused - when he stripped Louisiana quarterback Terrance Broadway and the ball flew forward.
Fellow defensive end Chris Smith also got to Broadway to record his 14th career sack.
"I think that those two guys together form a nice, little dual threat and Trey has not been overlooked from our coaches' standpoint and I don't think that they would by other coaches as well," Bielema said.
Bielema lauded Small and Swanson – who join Smith as three of the Razorbacks' four captains this season.
"Our two (offensive) MVPs went to Kiero Small, had over 50 snaps and played a very valuable role not just on offense but on special teams and that touchdown run on the catch he turned into a touchdown was just a big-time play," Bielema said.
"Travis Swanson, just again blew me away," Bielema added. "He had 16 knockdowns. As a center that's an impressive number. Very, very excited to watch him grow every game."
Flowers was named the Razorback defensive MVP by his coaches and kicker Zach Hocker the special teams MVP.
"Needless to say," Bielema said, "I am impressed with what he (Hocker) does with his leg day in and day out. I was also kind of excited to get those other two kickers… punter Sam Irwin-Hill to get him two punts and our backup kicker, John Henson. I know he missed the field goal but he did a very good job on the kickoff, gave us great hang time and great placement."
Bielema even went further by naming a trio of scout team MVPs – Jerry Mitchell (defense), Dakota Baggett (special teams) and walk on fullback Chris Jones (offense), who just joined the team with the start of classes last week.
The Arkansas coach highlighted how his team reacted to a trip of things.
"After watching the film three things jumped out at me," Bielema said. "First as coaches it was really nice to watch the game unfold but then to watch it on Sunday and see all the thing we worked on. Obviously the Xs and Os but just the training with Ben Herbert. Some of the things we preached about as a program really showed up.
"I thought number two, kids having fun," Bielema added. "One of the hottest environments that I have been around for game day and just talking to some of the people who have been here for awhile the temperatures on the field, obviously extreme heat, but our kids were enjoying it. Huge grins and smiles coming off the field after successful plays and coming off the field that whole group was smiling ear to ear.
"The third thing is the negatives, the issues and mistakes, the kids knew it right away," Bielema continued. "It wasn't like some kid trying to act like he didn't know he screwed up or it wasn't some kid trying to point a finger at somebody else. It was all compartmentalized and took a lot of just accepting ownership on bad plays and that's a big, big part about moving forward."
Bielema said he was very pleased with how his team adapted to the heat through strength and conditioning coach Ben Hebert - and took to the coaching it was given in preseason camp.
"The thing that blew me away, as hot as it was we started a hydration plan on Thursday that made them consume certain types of liquids," Bielema said. "We kind of forced it down their throats Thursday, Friday, Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon. And to get out of that game and not have anybody have a heat issue during the game or cramping or sweating, just again shows me our kids are dedicated to the task."
There were only a couple of injuries to tailback Jonathan Williams (shoulder stinger) and safety Rohan Gaines.
"Injury-wise, J. Will is fine," Bielema said. "Jonathan obviously came back in the game. He's a little bit sore but it shouldn't be an issue moving forward with him…Rohan was stiff. We hope to get him back midweek and hope to have him repping and practicing and to be ready for Saturday. Everybody else is OK."
Alan Turner would likely start at strong safety if Gaines can't go with junior college transfer Tiquention Coleman also seeing time
"Yeah, I think so. It was only 7 days that we had moved A.T. to that position," Bielema said. "Just figured the game and the environment that it was in, T.Q. would be better served in more of a run-condensed packages, so we put A.T. there and he did a good job. There wasn't a lot of action at (free safety) Eric Bennett, so I think those two guys together formed a little bit of a relationship and that would be the combo."
He lauded the performance of his offensive line.
"Right to left, Grady Ollison I would say the arrow was big time up," Bielema said. "He had a nice camp, a little bit up and down. I thought he played extremely well. Brey Cook, you take away two or three plays, he played about as physical as anybody up front. I really was impressed with him.
"Travis Swanson is a no-brainer," Bielema added. "At left guard, I thought (Luke) Charpentier and also (Mitch) Smothers both came in and did some things that got you excited. I think that's a position that's still a work in progress.
"And then David Hurd," Bielema continued. "I think the thing about Hurd is he's just always gonna be there. You never hear about him. He doesn't cost you. He's positive when the ball's coming toward him. I'm very, very excited about watching him grow. Because I think as a guy he quietly has improved as much as anybody in offensive line play."
Bielema made sure his team didn't get too high over the win.
"Now, what I guarded them against is all of the sudden everybody thinks you're not the bottom of the cellar anymore and all that jazz," Bielema said. "But I think one of the things we have to do as coaches is constantly remind our guys that you're only as good as your last play. I do think that was a good team that we beat, but on the same account, we've got an SEC schedule waiting on us.
"Samford, a team that has beat an FBS team that is going to come in with a lot of confidence into Little Rock," Bielema added. "We've got to take every play for what it is, you always play the snap for you. But I'm sure a little bit of confidence doesn't hurt a guy, especially (with) so many guys that haven't played before."
He did say that he loved seeing one play in particular out of first-time starter Olllison.
"There's a play where he (Ollison) took a guy on a ride and flipped him and threw him out of bounds 15 yards down the field," Bielema said. "Just to do that one time proves that you can do some things like that, and there's so many other guys that played a lot of reps for the first time and (were) pretty impressive.
"…I think we're a work in progress," Bielema added. "The No. 1 thing I loved about Saturday night is sitting back and reflecting on the game is just to know what we had been preaching and talking about and beating into them definitely came out."
O o o
...Junior cornerback Tevin Mitchel became a dad on Friday and then rejoined the team that night.
...Davyeon McKinney was not with the team on Saturday as he attended the funeral of a family member.
…Freshman offensive tackle Denver Kirkland got 18 snaps backing up senior starter David Hurd.
…Other true freshmen that played – Collins, WR Drew Morgan, TE Hunter Henry, OT Dan Skipper, CB D.J. Dean, LB Brooks Ellis.
…Bielema did think while Collins' positives outweighed his negatives that he can't be loose with the ball when carrying it.
…While freshman QB Austin Allen did not play, he will be prepared as the number three guy although Bielema hopes to redshirt both Allen and fellow rookie signal caller Damon Mitchell.
…Bielema noted that freshman WR Melvinson Hartfield and S Korliss Marshall did not play on Saturday, but will be in the game plan moving forward.
...Jarrett Lake and Austin Jones were on the field as the two linebackers a lot, but Arkansas played a lot of its nickel package, which brought Braylon Mitchell off the field more than the other two linebackers.
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