Bielema Unplugged

Arkansas head football coach Bret Bielema was on the SEC Teleconference Wednesday morning and talked about his team's season-opening win over Louisiana, his appreciation for seniors Travis Swason, Kiero Small and Jarrett Lake and what he expects from Saturday's foe Samford.

The following is a transcript of Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema on Wednesday's SEC Teleconference:

Coach Bielema opening statement:

"We were excited to get a W last week and I thought our guys really handled the preparation, handled the environment and ultimately performed the way we had coached them," Bielema said. "They played the game as coaches we recognized on Sunday while watching the film.

"Very excited about the growth of this week," Bielema said. "We always talk about coaches and teams that grow the most from game one to game two with a new system and we are very excited about the challenge that Samford brings us.

"We will be playing in Little Rock, a venue that we go to twice a year and we get a little different venue in a different part of the state and hopefully a lot of positive results," Bielema added.

Q: Travis Swanson – do you see any of the same characteristics in him and your last two centers that were both drafted into the NFL?

A: "Actually, ironically, I think he blends the two," Bielema said. "Peter Konz, who went in the second round to the Falcons, and Travis Frederick, first round to the Cowboys. He probably grabs the strenghths of both of those players and combines them into one.

"Travis is the most talented player that I have been around at that poisition," Bielema added. "I think he is going to skyrocket in the NFL draft. I think he is rated somewhere in the fifth, sixth, seventh round in before the season got rolling. He is going to skyrocket. He is long with his arms, plays extremely physical, had 16 knockdowns on Saturday, made every call up front – both run-wise and pass protection.

"He is one of our best leaders off the field, embodies everything we could ever ask in a teammate at Arkansas," Bielema continued. "The good news is that the NFL is going to get a product that will play for a long, long time."

Q: Talk about he defensive front was used on third down-and-long?

A: "It's usually for a long-yardage situation and a third-down call," Bielema said. "It allows our guys to have a little bit of fun. Some of the guys will stand up and rush, some will drop into pass coverage. Some of them might spy at the line of scrimmage. Whatever it is, it allows them to have a little creativity. I think our guys really enjoy it.

"Some of those big ugly guys up front think they are like a linebacker for a day and get every excited and thing they are real pretty," Bielema added. "It is something that we have kind of incorporated the last couple of years and it has been very, very productive for us."

Q: How many snaps was it used?

A: "I don't know the exact number Saturday," Bielema said. "The one part that I was a little bit leery of this past week was the ability of the quarterback to scramble. So we kind of limited the calls that we were able to showcase, but it is a nickle package and a couple of other names that I will probably keep to myself so people don't recognize it on game day.

"Basically when we have a fifth DB in there we will bring in linebackers and give them an opportunity to get after the passer. It's basically when we have a fifth DB in there, we'll bring in our pass rushing linemen and linebackers and give them an opportunity to get after the passer."

Q: Thoughts on LB Jarrett Lake's play:

A: "He's probably been one of the more impressive players I would say since we've been here, but more importantly from this fall," Bielema said. "He's a guy that's done everything we've asked him to do. He's into the game ... Out at practice, he may break into a little song and dance, he may start doing some jumping jacks. We make the offense, if they drop a pass, to give five pushups immediately after, and he'll run over and do it right in front of the receiver that dropped the ball, just to get into his head a little bit. Anything and everything that's about the game, he's engaged with and playing good football because of it."

Q: Is Lake hungry to start after waiting so long to get significant stats?

A: "I think so," Bielema said. "Not only since we've been here, but you know, Jarrett's not exactly had an easy life. He's a guy that's battled through a lot of different things. But the thing he brings every day is a smile on his face. He's engaged with us as coaches.

"I think him and Coach Shannon have a very special relationship," Bielema added. "As a head coach, I cherish the relationship I have with him. He's helped me grow in so many different ways that I've never been around. The part that I think is great, if he continues to do what he's doing right now, he'll not only play great football for us, I think he'll have a shot in the NFL."

Q: The idea that you're a run heavy team is out there a bit, but had balance Saturday, could you discuss how important that is to you guys?

A: "If you want spread the truth, I'd love it," Bielema said." ... We do like to run the football, that's no secret. But we love to throw the football, too. We're going to do whatever we have to do to win the game. I've always preached balance. If we throw for 200 and we run for 200 in any single game, we're probably going to have a very good chance of having success.

"I think a lot of times the run can set up the pass, especially some play-action stuff and some deep hits," Bielema added. "But on the same account the part that probably has got me more excited than anything is the way (Javontee) Herndon caught the ball. Hunter Henry, I know he had 1 or 2 drops, but he's been very, very reliable in the passing game. Sprinkle proved to be another effective guy.

"I think Brandon Allen, the way he's managing the football and being able distribute it to his right, to his left, whether he's running, whether he's in the pocket is very, very valuable. I know a lot of players played well on Saturday," Bielema said. "I would say B.A. was at the top of the list just in what we asked him to do and how he controlled the game was very impressive. I'm excited that we'll continue to grow out throwing package, our ability to get the ball in the air and have some success."

Q: What about a scouting report on Samford?

A: "I would say they had a good win last week. They're a team that on defense (cuts out for a second) ... No. 5 (linebacker Justin) Shade is a really good player, very active. ... In the back end they have safety, (Jaquiski) Tartt, that has been very impressive ever since I've watched him on film. A guy that definitely has an NFL future in front of him. He had a nice pick on Saturday. He plays with a lot of passion.

"... Also up front 98, (Michael) Pierce is a defensive end that's very, very active, very powerful and can make a lot of plays," Bielema said. "... On the offensive side of the ball, their quarterback Andy Summerlin, No. 8, really unique from the fact they run kind of a QB run pacakge if he wants to run it. But he's a very effecive player ... No. 11, (Kelsey) Pope, is probably their fastest wide receiver. He's very aggressive, throws a lot of blocks that are very aggressive. Then No. 2 (Fabian Truss) I believe was the Player of the Week last week for special teams. He had a kick return that went for 100, a couple big punt returns. He's a very, very dynamic player that can definitely move and create some things, some mismatches in space."

Q: Kiero Small only had about four career touches coming into the game, but got a lot more touches and being incorporated more into offense than the past

A: "I've counted my blessings in many ways since coming to Arkansas, and he might be my favorite," Bielema said. "For him to be able to be around with us this year, to realize he got hurt a year ago and have the opportunity to be with us this year has been worth it's weight in gold.

"As good a football player as he is, he's an incredible person," Bielema added. "He's a kid out of Baltimore that went to the junior college ranks, and I think was really signed here as a linebacker.  A guy that where we stand now, and where he's going to stand at the end of the year, here's a guy that I think we'll use him in any way we can as a blocking fullback, as a ball-carrying fullback, as a fullback as a receiver. We'll use him quite a bit on special teams.

"His value to the NFL is going to grow with every game," Bielema continued. "I think the thing that impresses me most about him is he's a very, very patient runner with the ball. Very, very good awareness of tempo, and where he fits and how he can get through. We've just scratched the surface.

" ... I had to give him a hard time, I think he played 53 snaps on Saturday and he said looked like a worn out dog on Saturday afternoon when we got done," Bielema said. "He said that was the most snaps that he'd taken since high school. Oobviously, it was a big spike in his production and the reason we did that is he gives us a very good chance to have success."


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