Bret Bielema said on Thursday that he had just left one of his most "abrasive" staff meetings. Wide receiver coach Michael Smith confirmed Tuesday that the Arkansas head coach was indeed "tough" on his assistants last week.
"Yes, he called us out," Smith said Tuesday after the Hogs completed their first practice of the work week in preparation for Saturday's home game with Auburn.
"As coaches, we are in the profession to win. That's why we get paid."
Asked if it was the most abrasive meeting he had endured as an assistant, Smith said he wouldn't go that far.
"Sometimes, things need to be said," Smith said. "I think as a head coach, you have to do that sometimes."
Bielema talked Thursday about his core beliefs, stressing that winning football is about running the ball and stopping the run.
"I just want to win," Smith said. "I don't care how we do it. But I do think you look at our offense and we have two really good running backs and the strength of our unit is probably the offensive line."
Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney had no problem with criticism from any corners in a 3-5 start. He said it's deserved in a five-game losing streak.
"We've been bad," Chaney said, then later noted, "We have not done our part (for the team). We haven't been scoring points. Can we have a breakout game? I want to see us execute a play, then another, then another, and another, until we get it in the end zone. And, at the end of the game, I want one more point than the other team. That's the goal this week, win the game."
Offensively, Chaney said there are mistakes in all areas. Consistency has been the issue in both the run and pass games.
"We are not where we want to be as a downhill running team," Chaney said. "We are getting closer. But the devil is in the details. When we have the details down, it will all look better.
"The passing game, we've been bad in most parts. We have tried to get back to the basics. I think we are coming around in the passing game.
"I think we've had a good week of practice. We are getting things cleaned up. Today, I thought it was a spirited practice."
Chaney said the off week helped heal some bumps and bruises. He said quarterback Brandon Allen is close to full speed after sustaining a shoulder injury in week two.
"Health wise, he's close," Chaney said. "Sure, it helps to have a week when you are not getting hit. But what helps is when everyone is on the same page.
"I think we have more guys who understand where they need to be. I think (wide receiver) D'Arthur Cowan has had some good practices. He did well last week and he had another good day today. He knows more where to be. When I call a play, he acts like he knows it a little better. He made some today where he looked good."
Smith said last week was a time to give a hard critique on all of the wide receivers, including Cowan.
"I think what we are trying to do is play faster," Smith said. "If you know the plays, you are going to play faster. There were times that Cowan was in places he shouldn't have been. When he knows what he's doing, he looks good. You can play fast when you know what you are doing.
"We went back and did a hard critique on all of them, D'Arthur Cowan, Keon Hatcher and all of them. They have responded well in practice, but the proof is in the pudding, what they do on game day. That's how you are measured.
"We were all very disappointed in the way we performed. We are optimistic with the way we've practiced, but it only matters when you do it in a game.
"We are going to go against a good secondary that is playing well. We've had a good couple of days and it's clear that we have fresh legs and are playing faster. But we will face a good challenge Saturday.
"We are giving everyone an opportunity this week. We have some seniors (playing their last home game) that we have challenged to step up. They don't want to go out like they've been playing. We've given them that challenge, but by the same token we will give some younger players chances, too."
Quarterback Brandon Allen said the team is focused on sending seniors out in style.
"I think we all know it's the last time for those guys to play in this stadium," Allen said. "It's on all of our minds. It's an important week with that in mind.
"I think we've had a good week of practice in the bye week. It's helped all of us. The bye week did us a lot of good last week. An extra week to prepare for a team can only help you, too.
"I tried to take in some games on Saturday. I watched a lot of football. I tried to learn something from every game I watched. I tried to pick something up in all of them."
Bielema said on Thursday that Grady Ollison, battling an ankle injury, is nearing full speed and would likely be in the rotation with Brey Cook at right tackle. Ollison was the starter early in the season. Ollison also said playing for the seniors is important.
"I've been around seniors like Travis Swanson and David Hurd for three seasons," Ollison said. "This is the last time here for those guys. I think we all want to help them and send them out right. It would mean the world to do that for those guys this week.
"I think it's going to help to have our legs fresh. This past weekend refreshed a lot of guys. We aren't as banged up."
Ollison sees a fresh quarterback.
"I think it helped him," Ollison said when questioned about Allen's bounce. "He's like all of us."
Ollison said the offense has to play better around Allen.
"Throughout all we've done, I think people want to pick on one player," Ollison said. "You can't do that. When there's an interception, a lot of the time, it's another part that causes it. It can be protection, it can be the route by the receiver. But most are going to get on the quarterback and a lot of time it's not on him."
Chaney said there have been times that he's discouraged Allen from running.
"But I think he's healthy enough that we aren't going to put any restrictions on him," Chaney said. "I think he made a couple of first downs (at Alabama) with his feet. We expect him to do that when it's there."
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