Jason Ivester

Arkansas coach Bret Bielema wary of distractions approaching Mississippi State game

Arkansas coach Bret Bielema knows the Hogs are on a roll, but he's wary of distractions that come from success. That was one of his messages Thursday night during his weekly radio show as the Hogs prepare for a home game with Mississippi State.

Arkansas is a team full of confidence and that's a good thing, head coach Bret Bielema said during his Thursday night radio show. But there are pitfalls to the good that's happening in a four-game winning streak.

"We have a player on the finalist list for the Doak Walker Award (Alex Collins), for the finalist of the John Mackey Award (Hunter Henry), SEC freshman of the week (Dre Greenlaw), an offensive line recognized as the finalist for national line of the year," Bielema said. "That's the things that come from winning. But with it comes distractions. We have to be aware of that."

However, Bielema said the preparations for this week's home game with Mississippi State have been good, similar to what he's seen the last few weeks as the Hogs have gotten on a win streak.

"I can say that we heard from two players (Kody Walker and Drew Morgan) last week on this show that our preparations have been good," Bielema said. "We just had a very good practice tonight. I think this team prepares the right way. We have a very good plan for this week."

The guests on the radio show Thursday night were wide receiver Jared Cornelius and his position coach, Michael Smith. Both of those confirmed that practice have been top shelf again this week.

There has been a lot of positive feedback with the way the Hogs dominated LSU, 31-14, last week. Both Cornelius and Smith are natives of Louisiana. It was a great feeling to win back in their home state.

"I can tell you that it was very gratifying to put a whooping on them in that stadium, to see it empty out (during the game)," Cornelius said. "My father graduated from LSU. I don't think I've ever seen that stadium like that."

Smith recruits Louisiana for the Hogs. He said his phone "blew up" after the game with messages from recruits and calls from high school coaches telling him they had a player interested in Arkansas.

"It was really a game that meant a lot to me," Smith said. "To get that number of messages, it was a great feeling. I know a lot of coaches in that state and I heard from a lot of them."

Both Smith and Cornelius talked about the impact junior transfer Dominique Reed has made with the squad.

"The thing about Dominique, he had been here only two weeks before we started camp," Smith said. "We knew what kind of talent he was, but we had to start from the beginning. The thing about it, he's just scratching the surface.

"We had to give him small spoon fulls and now we see that he's got the full package. I am not surprised. I had seen what he could do on tape. And, I had a lot of coaches tell me that played against him in the Jayhawk Conference, 'Hey, Smitty, this kid can really play.' He's not just fast. He can really catch the ball and he has great feet and hips. He can turn and twist. You saw the catch he made against Ole Miss and that one he turned his hips and caught it on his back shoulder."

Cornelius said, "You see what he does to the defense. With Dominique's speed, they can't load the box and it's hard for the secondary to double team me or Drew with Dominique out there."

Bielema knows the Hogs face a tough task with Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott.

"He's always been a tough runner," Bielema said. "But he's become much more efficient in the passing game. A touchdown to interception ratio of 18 to 2 is really off the charts. He's a very good thrower.

"We played them down there last year when they were No. 1 and we had a lead but we could not finish them off in the fourth quarter. We know we'll have a tough game this year, too. Dan Mullen believes in the same things we do and they play a very physical game of football. They have a tough defense with a big front and they rotate players. We know it's going to be a tough challenge."

Bielema closed his show by asking for a loud crowd Saturday night for the 6 p.m. kickoff.

"We want it as loud as loud can be," Bielema said. "They do a lot of their communication at the line of scrimmage, so we want to make it as difficult as can be for them with our crowd."


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