Bret Bielema thought Alex Collins had his best game, the Hogs are healthy and Robb Smith has done wonders with the defenses tackling as the Arkansas head coach covered the highlights after a victory over LSU on Monday.
On offense, Brandon Allen and Alex Collins got honorable mention recognition, but MVP went to Sebastian Tretola. Trey Flowers and D.J. Dean were honorable mention, Martell Spaight and Jared Collins shared the MVP on defense. Special teams honorable mention went to Dwayne Eugene and Adam McFain. The MVP went to Sam Irwin-Hill for the huge punt that pinned LSU inside the 10.
"I like the way our guys played and it was awesome to watch the film," Bret Bielema said. "But we had to turn the page and took the team on the field on Sunday and worked on Ole Miss."
Injury wise, Cameron Jefferson practiced Sunday and will be full go on Tuesday. No one should miss this week because of any injury.
Kendrick Edwards was out last week because of suspension, but will play this week. Bielema said, "The face I saw Sunday from him was the look of someone who missed out on something special but he'll be ready to go the rest of the way."
Bielema noted that Collins had his best game. He singled out his block in pass protection on a pass completion to Hunter Henry in which he recognized someone not part of his initial responsibility and flew across the front "to knock the blitzer into next week."
There was much discussion of Robb Smith's role in improving tackling and the philosophy behind it. There was mention of their trip to Miami for recruiting and the night before a meeting with Randy Shannon. It was late at night and Bielema and Smith got to discussing tackling philosophy. They moved chairs and tables out of the way and Robb was demonstrating. It got loud and passionate. Eventually, hotel security came to the door to ask them to quiet down. Bielema said it "was 3 or 4 in the morning." Kinda funny.
Bielema was asked if there was a plan in the works to keep Smith on staff because there are surely going to be those courting him for jobs. He said administration is aware of the job Smith is doing and will work to keep him. He also mentioned administration's help in adding a consultant this fall, former Vikings offensive coordinator Steve Loney, who helps Smith in advance scouting.
About Smith, Bielema said, "He's very unique, very passionate."
Bielema said every one uses bye weeks differently. The Hogs tried to back off on the physical load during their bye week.
"We practiced the least amount I've ever done as a head coach," Bielema said. "I thought we needed rest. That speaks on the knowledge we now have in our system."
Bielema said strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert even stepped in with some advice to skip a regular Thursday morning lifting session to help more with recovery in the bye week.
The head coach almost predicted the victory over LSU as he talked to the team late in the week.
“I’ve known it’s been coming for awhile, but I really did," Bielema said. "On Tuesday or Wednesday I said something to our guys on Thursday, which I’ve never done. Our fifth Arkansas edge is we talk about we earn everything.
"And I’ve said several times throughout this year that you’ve earned the right to play in this game. whether it’s a&m game or the Alabama game and people are making it a big deal because of the way you’ve played. But I said in this LSU game, and I made a special point to them on Thursday, I said I tell you something I’ve never told you. You’ve earned the right to win this game. you’ve put in the preparation. You’ve learned the lessons you’ve needed to learn and you’ve earned the right to win this football game. and that’s exactly what they did.”
The Hogs have stuffed the run against both Alabama and LSU. How much of that is practicing against a similar running style, the way the Hogs play offense. And, how much of it is defensive improvement.
“A little bit of both," Bielema said. "Alabama and LSU have a very similar approach to how we run the ball. That helps a little bit.
"I'll go back to the basic of fundamentals, tackling. I relate the story, there is a little elderly lady that follows me around the entire rubber chicken circuit all spring, she asks me about tackling. She shows up everywhere. I always thought it was funny because I first got that question, of course, we are going to practice tackling. We are a defensive football team.
"The fact of the matter was, we hadn't tackled well. It was a fact to everybody. It really became obvious to our players because they made an concentrated effort last spring to where we are today. If you want to get Robb Smith going, which is really not hard to do, but if you really want to get him riled up, ask him to give you his tackling philosophy.
"So I remember we are in a hotel room, I picked him up in Tampa, we were having a recruiting trip in Miami. I picked him up late. We didn't get to the hotel until 9 or 10 at night. I wanted to talk over some philosophy things with him. He was going to meet with Randy and a couple of coaches the next morning. The restaurant was closed and there was no place to do it, they wouldn't let us stay down in the lobby, so he came to my room. It was just he and I, we didn't have a TV on, we are just talking philosophy.
"He and I get along on certain things, and certain things we don't agree. We were talking about tackling philosophy. We were going on and on. We had the desk pushed to the side and the chair out and it was 3:30 or 4 in the morning. Knock, knock. What in the world. Turned around and it was hotel security. There wasn't anything going on in the room, no funny business. Can you guys keep it down. We've had a complaint about the volume in this room, that was because we were talking tackling philosophy and he was demonstrating to me, how he taught this certain technique.
"They taught this certain technique (at Rutgers). It's an impressive … it actually derived out of the situation where the player at Rutgers was injured. That guy who lost his ability to walk. They kind of had to regroup as a staff and they went through it and they came up with this tackling philosophy that came in the other defensive coaches with Coach (Greg) Schiano.
"They taught it at Tampa Bay. I think Tampa Bay they went from one of the most inefficient tackling defenses to one of the best in the NFL. They believed it came out of that. The thing I've learned in this profession, when you have someone -- it's not necessarily what they believe, it's how much they believe it. Robb will get -- that night he got emotional when he talked about it, which is very unusual for him. Then also with the passion with which he's displayed it to our players, our players believe in it. That's pretty cool."
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