If there is any doubt that Arkansas’ coaches and players didn’t fully get the message sent strongly to them by Toledo last Saturday, Razorback head coach Bret Bielema erased those on Wednesday’s SEC Teleconference.
“Our players, more than anything now realize on Saturday that you just can’t show up and throw the helmet on the field and expect to have success,” Bielema said.
“You have got to put in all the things that we work on daily, all the things that we have grinded on, all the things that we believe in.
“The good new was that Sunday they were very humble, as coaches we were very humbled and I think Tuesday was probably one of our best practices of the year that we have had going all way back to last spring.
“So I am excited to get to Saturday and see where we are at.”
Arkansas (1-1) will host Texas Tech (2-0) Saturday at 6 p.m. at Fayetteville’s Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
“We obviously had a set back on Saturday, one that you never like to go through, but in the end you hope it makes you stronger,” Bielema said. “I told our players and our staff that we have always kind of said that adversity defines us more than success and obviously we had some adversity on Saturday and earned a loss.
“But we have a good opportunity we have in front of us to play a game this week against Texas Tech, a good team that is 2-0 and taken care of both of their opponents pretty handily.”
Physicality has been preached upon in practice this week.
“If there's one element that was missing from us on Saturday it was physicality in all phases, and it's been the challenge that I've thrown forward to our players, to our coaches and to myself,” Bielema said.
“For the entire week of that preparation, I looked at my post-practice notes and never one time did I mention the word physicality. It was something that I took to assume that our players knew was there. It's what we're based on. If they look up our DNA hopefully that physicality component is in every one of us. And we didn't show it on Saturday.
“Whether it's coming off the football on the line of scrimmage, whether it's creating turnovers with physicality on defense, whether it's a turnover of big play on special teams because we got after somebody, that has to show up all over the field in all phases for us to win here at Arkansas.”
Bielema made it clear that he is happy with an improved passing game that has throw for 720 yards in the first game, but not with a running game which has produced just xxx in that same time.
“We have kind of defined ourselves by, at points, we are going to run the football no matter what is going on,” Bielema said. “To play a good team, a team that is coached as well as they are in Texas Tech, I think you really have to be opportunistic and take what they are giving you.
“But for us to have success overall, our formula has got to work and there have to be more balance to the run and passing game. I am very happy with the growth of our passing game and the way we have been able to protect our quarterback, but for us to have success – especially the way we are built, especially in a game like this against Texas Tech that is so much based on contrasting philosophies.”
Arkansas handled Texas Tech 49-28 last season in Lubbock and did so while rushing for 438 yards and six touchdowns.
The Razorbacks ran the ball 30 consecutive times to finish off that win.
“Because we are able to have success running the ball last year is why we won. Obviously the truth of this Saturday will determine that - whether we have success or failure again.”
Bielema noted that there were plenty of reasons that Arkansas’ offense only out 10 point son the board with a late safety accounting for the other two points.
“I think it was a disfunction of what we did,” Bielema said. “We had six holding calls, five of which took place with the offensive line and tight ends. We can't have those things. We weren't able to use our snap count effectively. I think that was another big thing that's part of what we have to do.
“For us to have success we've got to play clean. And when we're setting ourselves up with not doing that, it's just … When you sat back and looked at it, and looked at the yardage totals and the first downs and all that all goes into it, it was a defining formula of how to fail. I can't put it any clearer to our players.
“Toledo played a great ballgame and deserves all the credit in the world. They're a very good football team. They're going to have great success. But when you have 500 yards to 300, when you have 30 to 15 in first downs and you only have one turnover, but it was in the red zone. We had one special teams penalty, and it called back a punt return.
“We had six opportunities where if guys had just stayed on their feet they would have been in the end zone untouched. You just can't do those things and expect to have success.”
Arkansas beat UTEP 48-13 in its season opener while Texas Tech downed UTEP 69-20 last week.
“We have a common opponent in UTEP, which is very unusual, but it is two different styles and philosophies.
“A little bit of a reference back to last year’s game, we played them at their place last year and decided to have them come our way,” Bielema said. “Hopefully the fans here at Razorback Stadium will make it loud. Obviously it is a no-huddle can that can be greatly effecting by the volume of attendance so I hope we get some help there.”
Arkansas defense has to do a better job on third downs, especially against a foe such as Texas Tech.
“They are very explosive and the thing about Tech is that they can take it to the house on any given play,” Bielema said. “They have showed that with 16 drives and 11 of them are under a minute-and-a-half or two minutes. They score very quickly.
“I think in a game like this the goal is to get off the field and obviously you want to do it in as few attempts as possible. But if they do get a first down, just line up and play the next one.
“That is going to be the big thing for us defensively on Saturday – to be able to get off the field with as few a points as possible, give the ball to our offense and let us move the chains.”
Arkansas has had a trio of suspensions in its first two games – all among its wide receivers.
JoJo Robinson was suspended for the entire first game while Jared Cornelius and Dominique Reed were both suspended for the first half of last week’s game.
Cornelius served his penalty and then returned a punt for a touchdown, only to have that taken off the board because of a penalty.
“Again, it is more how you react to things,” Bielema said. “We preach and preach and preach to our players that it is not what happens, but how you react to what happens.
“Obviously he was late and he knew it. He and I had an exchange right after and I told him he was suspended and he wasn’t real happy about it. I told him why and he came back after practice and handle it in the way I thought where we might see a change in him that second half.
“Obviously the punt return he took to the house and he caught the ball very, very well.
“Unfortunately we had to suspend two of our players in the first half because they were not on time. That was a distraction.
“One of the things that we have tried to tell our players is that we can’t have the success we want to have with distractions. You have a player not show up and that’s a distraction.
“Unfortunately, Saturday’s experience was a learning experience for a lot of people. I think it was a great one for Jared and now with the injury to Keon Hatcher, it is a chance for him to step forward and I think he is going to do it
“He is a great kid with a lot of talent.”
Both Hatcher and fellow wideout Cody Hollister - who sources indicate broke his foot in Tuesday practice - are out.
Bielema touched on Cornelius’ progress in the past year.
“I think last year he was a kid that loves he game and was out there playing it and just kind of thought it was the next step up from high school,” Bielema said.
“He came from a great high school, but there is so much detail that goes into playing big-time college football, so much preparation, a definition of certain details that you have to be on top of for you to get there.
“I think that is the jump that he made. I think he has made a big jump in maturity level and I think the idea of what we saw Saturday is going to be the start of something really special.”