Arkansas went through the disappointment of a major upset loss on Sunday, but quickly jumped into trying to find solutions to the issues that caused a 16-12 loss to Toledo, including lack of production by the offense. Head coach Bret Bielema also went about the task of reshuffling the depth chart at wide receiver after losing Keon Hatcher to a broken foot.
Bielema said the red zone running game would receiver major attention after the Hogs rushed for just 103 yards on 31 carries against Toledo. New offensive coordinator Dan Enos was a little surprised after the game that the stat sheet showed 53 passes thrown.
"Toledo played a lot of cover two and we thought we could throw," Enos said. "I will say that we had eight to 10 called runs that (were checked to tags) were changed to passes. A lot of those were bubble screens to wide receivers and we consider those long hand offs. One was dropped and would have been a big play, but those turned out to be efficient plays."
Enos was asked how players handled the disappointment of a major upset. The Hogs entered ranked No. 18 in the Associated Press poll.
"The first thing, leadership started with Coach B," Enos said. "As a former head coach, I recognize that he is unbelievable. Obviously, he was not happy. But coach wanted to fix the problem, not complain. He set the tone. (The upset loss) happened, let's address the problems. Lets teach and not let it happen again."
Bielema said, "To me, the situation is as bad as it is, it is gut wrenching and hits your soul, but it's something we had to go through. Now you'd like to be able to still figure out a way to get the victory and see those things, but yesterday it gave us a chance to pinpoint our success and failures.There were obviously a lot of failures. The players were mad yesterday, disappointed. But we went about trying to fix things."
Bielema said the things that upset him the most were the penalties. There were four holding calls.
"To hold is a choice," he said. "You either lack skills or you lack mental toughness. We've had some holding calls in the first two games so you are labeled on the field. We need to erase that label."
The real problem was that the Hogs came up almost empty on five trips to the red zone. They didn't score a touchdown and converted only one field goal. Bielema said a running game from point blank range must be found. The Hogs came up empty on first and goal situations from the 3 and 4-yard lines.
"Our DNA is not going to change," Bielema said. "We have to make our runs look like passes and our passes look like runs. We had a lot of five-step passes that were all good, but we need to roll with what works in our program."
Bielema said the blocking did not give running back Alex Collins a chance to do much.
"Alex was having to make quick decisions because people were in his face," Bielema said. "We must be able to run the football."
Hatcher faced foot surgery on Monday that will knock him out of action for at least six weeks. Drew Morgan will move into the starting slot opposite Jared Cornelius in the base offense. In sets with three wideouts, Jojo Robinson would be a starter, too.
"I met with Dan Enos and Michael Smith and that's our plan," Bielema said. "Jared and Drew are our best two guys. We are also going to get Jojo involved. I hit them up last night and told them, 'You are starters.' Jojo is ready for that. I also think Cody Hollister and Duwop Mitchell are doing a good job. You may also see a walkon, Luke Rossi. He catches everything. We brought up (from the redshirt list) Kenderick Edwards."
Junior college transfer Dominique Reed is in the picture, too. He was suspended for the Toledo game after missing a meeting Friday. Bielema said Reed "didn't show up until he was called. That's disturbing, a lack of accountability. He has done well in academics, but accountability has to factor in for all areas."
Enos said Reed would be in the plans, but firmly stated, "He's got to help us help him."
The running game might benefit from help at fullback. Bielema said Jeremy Sprinkle, a starting tight end, would continue to play there in certain situations, but there is likely going to be help from true freshman Kenderick Jackson. Kody Walker will also get snaps at fullback.
"We thought Kenderick needed another week of practice," Bielema said. "But he did have a nice week of work."
Enos said the red zone errors were as much a problem of execution, but better play calling is needed, too.
"Coaches are re-evaluating what we called," he said. "There are two or three calls I'd like to have back. I'm sure Brandon Allen would like to have a couple of throws back. One thing about the red zone, you offense has to run the football. You can't run it, guys will drop into coverages.
"We are all accountable, players and coaches. We had trouble getting to the edges. It was about the line, the tight ends and the backs. We are going to do a better job. We are going back to our fundamentals."
If there was any good news Monday it was that the injury list that looked long after the game was serious, but not so long. Aside from losing Hatcher, the rest of those in question seemed to be good to go this week against Texas Tech. Game time Saturday in Fayetteville is 6 p.m.
Left tackle Denver Kirkland has a sore elbow, but will practice this week and be ready to play. Middle linebacker Josh Williams has a bruised shin, but is good to go. Safety Josh Liddell has a thigh bruise and will play this week. Eric Hawkins, who left the field on a stretcher, is sore, but should practice this week and return kicks.
Bielema said nose tackle Bijhon Jackson's limited role Saturday was due to a shoulder injury sustained in practice last week. Jackson should be good to play this week.