It seemed liked pretty good odds that an Arkansas running back would be the SEC Offensive Player of the Week.
Sophomore Alex Collins rushed 27 times for a career-high 212 yards and a pair of touchdowns and junior Jonathan Williams had 145 yards on 22 carries with a career-high four touchdowns.
Razorback head coach Bret Bielema – whose (2-1) team hosts Northern Illinois (3-0) on ESPNU Saturday night at 6 p.m. - couldn’t decide so he nominated both after their standout efforts in a 49-28 mashing of Texas Tech.
“I thought both of them showed great conditioning,” Bielema said. “Nominated both of them for SEC MVP. How do you decide? J-Will had four touchdowns and Alex had two, but had 211 (yards) and he (Williams) had 150. It's a great decision and I'll let the SEC decide that.”
The SEC decided to give the honor to Collins, whose 84-yard run finished off the Red Raiders and also made him the SEC’s leading rusher and the nation’s seventh-best with 411 yards.
The announcement of the league players of the week – which used to be made Monday morning – are now saved for the SEC Network and 6 p.m.
“I think they were tired and I think Alex left half his lung out there on that 80-yarder,” Bielema said. “Usually he is one to have some post-game celebrations as we saw last year in Little Rock, but I I do think (now) he is getting an outstanding reputation of just handing the ball to the official. But even on that one he couldn't muster it up to hand it to the official.”
His 212 yards were the ninth-most in school history, the most since Darren McFadden put up 321 on South Carolina in 2007 and handed the Fort Lauderdale native a third SEC Player of the Week honor of his young career.
Williams, who has a 90-yard touchdown run this season, is sixth in the SEC and 22nd nationally with 325 yards and has a team-high six touchdowns.
The Razorbacks lead the nation in yards per rush (7.9) and are third nationally in rushing yards with 1,086 yards in three games – an average of 362 yards per game.
Bielema talked about how former Wisconsin and current Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson became clear on how much a power run attack can lead to opening things up in the passing game.
“I think the thing that we really believe in is our philosophy that the run game really keys the passing game, the play-action game,” Bielema said. “It is a very hard thing. I remember Russell like it was yesterday, when he was with us, he got excited about playing in our offense, but about midway through the year he said what I never really thought of was, as well as we have been able to run the football, the box becomes cleaner for me to read. The reads he was able to progress through because before the snap, the defenses have to kind of tip their hand where they are going to help in the run game.
“That is the same thing now,” Bielema added. “Defensively you have to kind of show what you are doing and that allows that quarterback to have an effective pre-snap read.”
Collins Named SEC Offensive Player Of Week
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