Arkansas coach Bret Bielema Knows Dak Prescott Big Challenge for Hogs

Arkansas coach Bret Bielema met with the media on Monday to preview this week's game with Mississippi State. Bielema knows State quarterback Dak Prescott will represent a big challenge for the Razorbacks pass defense.

Bret Bielema loved the tough mentality Arkansas displayed in winning its third road game of the season, but now must focus on stopping Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott.

Alabama found the answer last week in Starkville. The Tide sacked Prescott nine times. That would have equalled the Arkanas total for the season ahead of the trip to LSU. The Hogs came up with five sacks in a 31-14 victory over the Tigers with Deatrich Wise earning 2.5.

"What sets Dak apart with Brandon Allen is the pure size," Bielema said of the 230-pound senior from MSU. "He's very physical. And, he throws the football well. I'm just very impressed with his stature.

"It's hard to believe a player could be sacked nine times and come out of it without being dinged up or being slowed down for this week, but we don't believe that will be the case for Dak against us.

"What makes him special is just all the repetitions he's gotten over the years. And, he has good players around him. He has a covey of four or five wide receivers, a good tight end and a good running back. And, I think the staff uses him very well. He has a list of called run plays that they depend on him because of his size."

Bielema announced the award winners for the week and it was a long list. The offensive MVPs were Dominique Reed and Dan Skipper. Skipper also received the SEC offensive linemen of the week award. Wise was the team's defensive MVP. Dre Greenlaw was named SEC player of the week for the second time this season. Bielema said the UA offensive line was named national offensive line of the week. Hunter Henry was named to the John Mackey Award semifinals list, the tight end of the year nationwide.

Bielema said the difference between not coming up with the key sacks at Ole Miss two weeks ago and the five at LSU was "simply tackling. But when you say that, it's an understanding of where the quarterback is going to be. If you have a called pressure on one side, you have to be ready on the other side. That's where the quarterback is going to come and to be honest, we weren't quite ready there the week before when we flushed the quarterback."

Wise's sack total was impressive, but Bielema said his talent should lead to that kind of a number.

"He's got the stature," he said. "He's 6-5, 6-6. He can run. He's just now getting to where we want him to be with his maturity.

"He's been taking baby steps. You wonder why it took him three years (to listen to his coaches), but he was trying to do a lot of things when he got here -- fraternity, track and football. He does have a lot of talent. Our O-line coach, Sam Pittman said it's nice to see in games what he sees every day in practice. He dominates every day in one-on-one drills."

The Hogs will be down a man in the defensive line. Mitch Lowewen becomes the 11th player with a broken bone. He underwent surgery on Monday for a broken bone in his foot, very similar to what Jonathan Williams sustained in August. He's out for the season.

Robb Smith said that was the reason Hjalte Froholdt and Armon Watts got more snaps. The defensive coordinator said it was Froholdt's best game. With Loewen out, Smith said Deatrich Wise and Jeremiah Ledbetter will move inside from defensive end more over the next two games.

Smith said the pratice routine last week helped provide fresh legs.

"We had only 72 reps in practice last week with the ones and twos," Smith said. "We cut things back. It's a credit to our players. The term we use, work smart. We wanted to get the freshness to finish plays."

There was funny moment. Bielema has said after the game Saturday night that he had a stern meeting with the defensive staff early Wednesday that he thought helped focus. Smith, who is very close to Bielema, as clear on his thoughts of that meeting.

"I guess I missed that meeting," Smith said.

When asked again about the tone of the meeting, Smith again replied, "I guess I missed that one."

Smith said there was a new package last week with Karl Roesler moving to strongside linebacker to give the Hogs something to work againt LSU's two tight ends and fullback sets. Linebacker coach Vernon Hargreaves said Roselser, a defensive end, made an easy transition.

"Vernon says he's a show-it-to-him-once guy," Smith said. "He is a guy who is a quick learner and has a high IQ level. Karl gave us the best matchup. He gives us some versatility."

The Hogs also used a lot of Dre Greenlaw at the middle linebacker spot with Brooks Ellis at weakside linebacker.

"We like to throw in some new wrinkles from week to week," Smith said. "We had some matchups we were trying to get. We just want to keep people off balance."

Kevin Richardson played some linebacker in the nickel package. Smith said, "Kevin has a great care to him and he tackled very well in space this week."

Bielema said the Hogs have done a lot of celebrating of late and one of the worries is over confidence.

"What we have to guard against is that we will be told this week how good we are," he said. "Our coaches will take the role of coaching a humble nature.

"Mississippi State emerged last season as one of the nation's best teams and they are still one of those in my opinion. Their quarterback gets my vote -- other than Brandon Allen -- as quarterback of the year. He's a tough, tough kid. He lives on mental and physical stamina and his team feeds off of him."

Bielema said Cody Hollister played one snap last week against LSU. The wide receiver is recovering from foot surgery earlier this season because of a broken bone. There had been concern about the health of running back Alex Collins, battered against LSU.

"Alex is fine, just a little bit worn down," Bielema said. "We will have to do a good job of taking care of some guys this week."

There was much praise for Reed. He scored one touchdown and blocked the way for another. The block for Jared Cornelius' 59-yard touchdown run was not something Bielema said needed a lot of views in the film room on Sunday.

"By the time we got there, our players had all probably seen it 20 times on social media," Bielema said. "I spoke to them as a group about how unselfish he was with that play. He probably set the record for the longest block because he took that guy 65 yards. He never stopped until he crossed the goal line.

"I will also say that J-Red showed us a stutter step at about the 30 to make a guy miss. It shows how explosive we are. We had seen that kind of move in practice. I will also say that Alex outran a guy who can really run. We have more explosive players than people might think we have."

Offensive coordinator Dan Enos said Reed's block was wonderful.

"What I'll say is that for a play like that, it takes 11," Enos said. "That's why I say what we are doing with our blocking on the perimeter is just as important. The block with Dominique, my only worry was that they were calling him for holding because he maintained it for so long."

Enos praised the faking of Brandon Allen, noting it was a fake from Allen to Kody Walker that frose some LSU defenders before Cornelius broke outside.

"LSU probably had eight or nine inside trying to stop Kody," Enos said. "I think Brandon's fakes are under rated. His ball handling is as good as I've seen. That part is not mentioned enough. He's worked hard on that area and I think he is making some eyes go in the wrong spots."


Hawgs Daily Top Stories