Bielema: Hogs Gained Mojo

Quarterback Brandon Allen's shoulder passed the test in his first game back. Freshmen guards Dan Skipper and Denver Kirkland played well in their first starts. Bret Bielema covered those topics and his pre-game tumble in his Monday media briefing.

Not winning is always a disappointment, but Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema said his team emerged from a 45-33 loss to Texas A&M "with some mojo. We didn't get the win, but I thought we competed."

Bielema said the Razorbacks have to find a way to finish games after getting blanked in the fourth quarter for two straight weeks.

"I do think our players felt like they were right on the verge of making a big statement (against Texas A&M)," Bielema said. "But we had a couple of guys jump out of their gaps. We can't have that. You could see the gaps on the sideline with poor alignment. It's amazing. I've studied and coached defense for a long time and when you have one guy leave a gap and create a hole, that offense is going to hit that hole every time."

On the injury front, Bielema said Brandon Allen's shoulder "was not too sore after the game and is full go for this week's practices."

Bielema said he wasn't surprised by Allen's quick recovery from the shoulder sprain/bruise against Southern Mississippi.

"I guess I kinda expected it," Bielema said. "When I was first told that it might be three to four weeks, in the back of my mind, I didn't think it would be that long. In no way did I express that to him because I didn't want to influence it.

"But I knew he was a tough kid. His pops came to me Sunday and said, 'My son is a quick healer.' I had been around Brandon enough to expect him to make a quick comeback.

"What I'll say is that he came back angry, feisty and competed. That young man is going to win a lot of games."

Cornerback Tevin Mitchel missed playing time because of a head injury against Texas A&M. Mitchel will be available on a limited basis Tuesday, with no contact. Bielema said, "It shouldn't be a problem after that."

Running back Nate Holmes has injured an ankle twice. Bielema said, "He re-tweaked it last week in practice." Because of that, Korliss Marshall remains in the rotation as the third running back. Bielema said, "We will expand his role."

Bielema said he spoke to the team "in a strong way" on Sunday afternoon because of some off-the-field issues that he thinks are related to the way the team played as far as details. Specifically, he said a player was late to weight lifting the week of the Rutgers game and another was late to an academic meeting.

"We will hold them accountable," Bielema said. "I'm a big believer in what happens off the field translates to on-the-field issues. We will demote guys and take guys out of the game plan.

"I was stronger with them after this game than Rutgers. I told them we've got to do things right."

Bielema was asked how he took not winning since his record suggests it's not something he's often faced.

"I am looking at this year in a totally different perspective," Bielema said. "I'm not saying I was mentally prepared for it, but I can tell you that I had a hard time falling asleep Saturday night. I finally went to the positives. I know we had good practices and preparation and I know we are learning.

"We are not there yet. As we continue to climb the mountain, I do know that when we get there it's going to be really fun because of the things we've faced."

Bielema said he avoided injury when he slipped on the wet asphalt outside the Broyles Center on the "Hog Walk" before the game. He also said two players slipped and fell as well, prompting Bielema to note, "We may look at putting something down."

"I told my wife after the game that I went down," he said. "I expected it to be instant You-tube since I saw phones when I was getting up. I was up quickly. I thought I showed some athleticism."

Bielema liked a lot of what he saw on the tape, especially from a host of young players on offense.

"You look out there and you have a sophomore quarterback, two freshmen guards, a freshman tailback, a sophomore tailback and a freshman tight end that is going to set a lot of records," Bielema said.

True freshmen Dan Skipper and Denver Kirkland got their first starts at offensive guard. Bielema said both played well.

"The first thing you notice, they played with a lot of energy," Bielema said. "The idea was to get our best five (linemen) on the field. We discussed moving David Hurd to guard and keeping Skipper at tackle. But we decided to keep as many as we could at the same positions.

"They competed very well. We limited the things we did with them, but they are large, physical, athletic and they played with a lot of energy."

Brey Cook, moved from guard, gave Grady Ollison rests at tackle in both halves.

"It might be too much to expect Grady to play 70 snaps, so he'll be better if Brey can give him some help," Bielema said. "Grady can be more efficient if he plays 50."

Bielema said tight end Mitch Lowewen played his best game and that perhaps coincided with the return of Austin Tate and a more healthy Hunter Henry.

"Austin came back and we lowered Mitch's reps," Bielema said. "He became more efficient. I think sometimes we were putting too much on Hunter, too. You have a couple of plays where he's run a long ways and you think he can keep going, but he's still a young player. He may look like an older player in pads, but when he takes off that helmet, he looks like he's about 15."

Bielema was asked about Deatrich Wise's celebratory dance after combining with Chris Smith on a Johnny Manziel sack.

"He understands (not to do it again)," Bielema said. "There was a detailed conversation. We've talked to our players about the high fives that take five seconds. We want their eyes back on the sideline and getting lined up quicker. If they are (dancing), there eyes are not on the sidelined and being disciplined. I'll be surprised if 48 (Wise) does that again."

Bielema said it's important for the Hogs to play well in Florida this week. He said a victory would be meaningful in many ways, including to boost recruiting in a state that's important for the Hogs.

"Since 1993, I've signed over 60 players from the state of Florida," Bielema said. "Obviously, Randy Shannon and Charlie Partridge from our staff were born there. We have relationships in the state. The players that I've coached, a lot of them, are back there and they have kin and relatives that have given us more players.

"To go down there and beat one of the big three would give Arkansas relevance in the SEC."

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