State of the Hogs: Icy Treat

Bret Bielema seems to get the details right. That goes all the way to the icy treats after a hot day. Jeff Long recognizes his coach has great organizational skills.

What stands out after one game of the Bret Bielema era? Yeah, I know, Arkansas beat a Sun Belt Conference team the way an SEC team should. The Razorbacks flexed their physical superiority.

That's the big takeaway, that the Hogs are bigger and stronger under Bielema, just as he promised eight months ago. In fact, there were so many things he promised that came true that you can get carried away with big picture thoughts.

That could be the case as the Hogs roll through a few more games where they should be the dominant team. That's fools gold.

It's best to remember that the Arkansas linebackers are still less than great, the offensive line is still coming together and Brandon Allen is inexperienced and much of the opposition has quarterbacks with lots of starts under their belts.

No, I'm going to stick to detail things today in analysis of Bielema's first victory, perhaps things that are under the radar for most. I'll start with a cornerstone of his program, nutrition and hydration and how players understand it.

Can you recall too many games where cramps did not figure on a day with 95-degree heat? I can't. Bielema said the Hogs began serious intake of the correct fluids on Thursday and continued through the game. Strength coach Ben Herbert rebuilt the Hogs without adding any bad weight that caused stress on the body on a hot day.

Athletic director Jeff Long couldn't recall seeing a team play so well through heat in his time around college football. He shook his head and said, "Never. And it was incredibly hot."

That was before Long's remarks to the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club on Wednesday when he raved about Bileman's "organization and attention to detail" throughout his staff.

"They are so well prepared and they are still in transition," Long said. "They don't miss anything and I'm talking about off-the-field details in nutrition and with their training staff. It's the whole package and it speaks to the great things ahead."

One of the details that surfaced afterwards on nutrition came from a player. Ice cream was eliminated from the training table during camp. But players were asked about their choice of treats if they won. They voted ice cream. There were cheers Sunday night when they arrived at the meal and there was ice cream along with all kinds of toppings.

That goes along with Hebert's message last winter. He said there should be mental rewards for hard work. Bielema gets that. So far it looks like he gets everything.

It appears Long does, too. He seemed comfortable and at ease with fans at the TD Club. It was in stark contrast from last fall when he had to explain his process for finding a coach. On this day, he was able to call fans by name as they asked questions.

More and more, fans understand Long knows his job. He explained the process for bowling in the north end zone of Reynolds Razorback Stadium and his own questions for what's changed about the Hog Call. He doesn't like the yelps some have inserted in the traditional cheer.

"I get blamed for that," Long said. "Our cheerleaders say they don't do it. I'm not sure where it started."

Long has made no conclusion on the right way to bowl in the north end zone and promises no conclusion will be made quickly. Some studies have suggested there is a need for 40-50 more luxury suites.

"We've got 134 now and a long waiting list, but 40 to 50 is more than I can swallow," he said. "I don't think there is a demand for more bench seats in the lower bowl. I do think we have a demand for more club seats. We probably need some combination of club and suite seats."

Long is for keeping the Broyles Center and building around it, although architects have "hinted" that a demolition of the building would be the way to go.

"I'm not excited about that," he said. "I think the best plan is to build around the Broyles Center. We do want to keep a locker room there and enter from that end of the field on game day."

The players don't seem to care, as long as there is ice cream on Sunday night after victories. Bret Bielema will take care of that detail along with all of the rest.

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