Arkansas coach Bret Bielema learned lessons from poor decisions as a player and a coach and now wants Dan Skipper to learn a big one – and move forward. That was part of the sage advice he had for the sophomore left tackle after two big penalties last week.
Skipper was one of many topics covered by Bielema in a 15-minute interview with Bo Mattingly, carried Thursday afternoon on radio show Sports Talk with Bo.
“(Skipper) does a lot of good things, but part of him needs to stay in Cowboys Stadium and going forward, he needs to play four quarters of clean football,” Bielema said.
Penalties called on Skipper erased two big plays by the Razorbacks in a 35-28 overtime loss to Texas A&M. A holding call negated a touchdown pass and a tripping penalty wiped out a 55-yard run to the Texas A&M 1-yard line on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Skipper might remind Bielema of himself. Bielema was a fiesty player.
“I think I got kicked out of two games, maybe one for a little fight,” Bielema said of his playing days.
Bielema also recalled a 15-yard penalty as a head coach. Bielema told Skipper about that mistake when he pulled him into his office this week.
“I told Dan, 'Brother, I got a 15-yard flag as a head coach,” he said. “It was a very big lesson I have to live with and now you have to move forward.'”
Bielema agreed that the A&M loss was a gut shot.
“It's something that will be with you the rest of your life,” he said. “If you bring it up in 20 years, I'll be able to describe it to a T. You move on, but you don't ever leave it behind as a learning experience.”
The Hogs have lost the fourth quarter, 96-14, in SEC games under Bielema, a big reason the Hogs are 0-10. Bielema does not dodge the numbers.
“It's part of the past, but we embrace it, we own it,” he said. “Now we have to do something about it.”
Bielema said it's not a surprising statistic because he knows the depth the team better than anyone.
“It's not a shock to see that (stat),” he said. “We have trouble as the game wears on because of our depth. This league has unbelievable depth. I know my roster.”
Bielema said that's his reasoning for moving the twos up to the ones in practice this week as the Hogs have a bye.
“I feel good about the ones,” he said. “But it hurts us when we lose someone like Henre' Toliver in the first quarter. We just have to get more bodies and quality bodies at the right positions.”
There have been questions by fans concerning Korliss Marshall, thought to be a top prospect at safety, a thin position. Marshall is getting third-team snaps at running back.
“Quite honestly, he's just not as effective (at safety),” Bielema said. “We tried that show. He's got great straight ahead speed. But what he doesn't have is the ability to read and react. That slows him down.
“I do pride myself in the ability of putting players in the right position. That's one of my biggest strengths.”
The Hogs have made strides on defense, leading the country in pass breakups with 33. Of their total plays on defense, they rank 10th in the nation in a “havoc” stat – plays for lost yardage, deflections and breakups. Bielema saw that coming after the hiring of Robb Smith as defensive coordinator.
“Robb Smith is a big believer in disruption,” Bielema said. “I've never seen the detail in the drills and philosophy. Things continue to pop up in that detail to get hands on the football. It's mind boggling in how he stresses it, which arm to extend, where the second man should reach his hands.”
Style of play -- something that many worried about last year -- seems to be less of an issue as the Hogs have flexed their muscles more this year. Bielema said it's a style that he doesn't see anywhere else, a big plus for the Hogs.
"Literally, I don't think anyone else is (playing like Arkansas)," he said. "Not even the place I came from doesn't play this way. No one else is wholesale into it."
And, that's the only way Bielema said it will work.
"You can't be average or good at this (style)," he said. "You have to be exceptional and all the way into it."
But he said there is more and more feedback from around the country that others think it's going to work at Arkansas under his watch.
"My phone is just blowing up, 70 to 80 messages," he said. "Every talking head, people I've known -- they seem to be pulling for us. I think they know we are doing things the right way and that goes for all areas, including academics. I think when you do it right there, it shows up everywhere else."
Bielema Gives Skipper Sage Advice
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