Arkansas coach Bret Bielema was pleased with many aspects of the Tennessee victory, but knows there is improvement to be made before a trip to Alabama. Bielema met with the media on Monday.
"There were some younger players doing some things that I am not sure they would do this early," Bielema said. "Dre Greenlaw and Santos Ramirez were top leading tacklers. Rawleigh Williams did some good things and some of them were without the ball."
LinebackerJosh Williams had surgery Sunday with a rod put in his leg for a broken leg. He is out for the season.
Bielema was upset at the block that took Williams out against Tennessee, noting it was not within the rules as he understands them.
"We saw that play in film and asked the officials to watch for it in pre-game meeting," he said. "The official was adamant that he saw the whole play and it was legal. We sent that into (the league office) and we'll see."
Bielema said it is illegal if the tight end is outside the box and it was on this case.
"You can't go low in that situation," he said. "Josh never saw it coming."
Kody Walker did not play because of wet conditions with a padded cast. Walker could play this week.
Bielema said redshirt freshman running back Juan Day will not play this week. He will be involved in scrimmage work during the bye week following the Alabama game. Bielema said, "Then we'll see. I don't want to throw him into an SEC game until we scrimmage."
Concerning Alabama, Bielema said he was not surprised when he turned on the film on Sunday to see Alabama playing well against Georgia.
"They are the staple of college football," Bielema said, then later added, "They have two great backs, a defensive line comparable to any in the NFL with 12 playing and you can't tell a difference. They have DBs who can run and linebackers who will smack you and great special teams."
Bielema explained a heated sideline moment between offensive coordinator Dan Enos and quarterback Brandon Allen.
"Brandon thought Dan was yelling at him, and he was yelling at Drew Morgan," Bielema said. "We got it calmed down. We had a church moment."
Enos said, "I was trying to get Drew lined up and Brandon thought it was directed at him. Every married couple has its moments. It was a high stress moment but we were pointing out what we wanted from Drew. We got it straight."
Enos said Allen has a fire about him.
"He's a competitor," Enos said."It was heated and he's that kind of a competitor. He wants to play perfect and loves this university and state."
Bielema praised the offensive line. Guard Sebastian Tretola was named the SEC offensive linemen of the week. Denver Kirkland and Mitch Smothers also played well.
"Mitch probably had his best game here," Bielema said. "I was here this morning at 6 a.m. and Mitch was coming around the corner to study film and that's exciting for me."
Bielema credited the defensive line adjustments at halftime for slowing down the Tennessee running game.
"We talked about being more aware of the keys," Bielema said. "We were aware of some things but they were not getting echoed across the field. Maybe there were some tells in formations that show up before the snap. But I think as much of it was the swagger showing up with our defensive line.
"They had 9 yards rushing in the second half. Eliminating the running game was a big part of the game."
Bielema said the fake field goal partly broke down because of a bobbled snap. He said they had worked on that play "50 times and it was always a perfect" transition on the snap and the flip to McFain. He also said McFain is one of the fastest players on the team.
The blocked field goal earlier was also a mishandled snap. Matt Emert had the ball fall off the tee before Cole Hedlund kicked the ball into the wall.
"I was thinking about that when I made the call for the fake field goal," he said. "I couldn't get a straight answer on what happened. It was a perfect snap on the block, but when he tried to spin it, it fell off the tee."
Bielema was asked about kicking off to the north to start the game with the wind blowing from the northeast. Tennessee returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown when Lane Saling's kick was fielded at the 5-yard line.
"When we talked to the kickers, they said the wind was a non factor," Bielema said. "We have been covering kickoffs great, but we had three things happen. Two guys fell down at the point of attack, it was not a good kick and we had two guys catch blocks instead of delivering them. There was a third guy fall down on the back side."
Bielema said the wet field was a factor on some other slips early in the game, but that players were able to adapt to the conditions as the game continued.
Bielema praised running backs Alex Collins and Rawleigh Williams.
"That's three 150-yard games in a row for Alex, he's just making some guys miss at times," Bielema said. "He's been very focused in practice. I have noticed a change in him. He's telling his high school coach to watch for his blocking and he's proud of that."
Bielema was asked about the timing of the changes in carries with Collins going out and Williams coming in.
"Alex taps himself out at times," he said. "We want him to do that. We have such a priority on ball security. There was one time when he made a big run and he got up and it was clear that he was feeling it. So I said, 'Let him have another one.' He was gassed after that and asked to come out.
"We have it where he can just point at Rawleigh and they know to switch. He knows that we don't want him out there if he's gassed."
Defensive coordinator Robb Smith said the loss of Williams at strongside linebacker could mean some shuffling in the depth.
"There is good competition with Dwayne Eugene and Khalia Hackett at (strongside)," Smith said. "It just depends on the number of tight ends Alabama will play with. The emergence of Dre Greenlaw at (weakside) gives us more flexibility. Brooks Ellis can play strongside, too."
At defensive end, this might be a week that brings JaMichael Winston into the picture more. He is better against tight end alighments and there has not been much of that the last three weeks. Tevin Beanum and Jeremiah Ledbetter have handled most of the defensive end snaps.
"I think this week will be big for JaMichael," Smith said. "We've had a good rotation at end with Jeremiah, Tevin, JaMichael, Deatrich Wise and even Karl Roesler giving us good reps. Alabama is different and uses the tight end, but also has some three wideout sets."
It's an interesting matchup between Enos, the Arkansas play caller, and Alabama head coach Nick Saban. Enos was at Michigan State for two years as a player when Saban was the defensive coordinator.
"I was the scout team quarterback for one year when he was defensive coordinator and he got after me a few times," Enos said. "I've always had great respect for Coach Saban. I was the backup quarterback his last year as a redshirt freshman in '87 when we won the Rose Bowl."