While Saturday’s Arkansas scrimmage didn’t involve much contact, it did have a return of a young man who had not taken a competitive snap in just under six months.
Sophomore tailback Rawleigh Williams, who injured his neck and was lost for the season during Arkansas’ 54-46 four-overtime win over Auburn on Oct. 24, got some work with the first team.
Williams, who has been cleared to practice, did not take contact as a precautionary measure.
“He's cleared to actually do you know, tackle football,” Bielema said. “It's just I don't think it's in our best interests or his best interests. He's not limited physically, and if he gets banged around a little bit he's not in danger.
“But I think he looks exceptional. I got out of town on Thursday night to go down and see my (ill) father-in-law and I got a text when I got off the plane that he was at 218. So he's leaning himself up.
“He probably played in the high 220s in the fall when he was healthy. He's back down. That's a weight we feel that he can move around at pretty good and he looks exceptional. He's been very impressive so far.”
Williams had 56 carries for 254 yards and a touchdown last season before the season.
“I wanted Rawleigh to run with the ones,” Bielema said. “ I didn't want to slow down our offensive growth because of injuries at the tailback position.
"Kody (Walker) will be back with us in the fall no problems. He has a foot injury just like some of those other guys this fall. We know how to rehab that and get them back.”
Bielema likes the burst that he sees from Williams.
“Everybody talks about that first vertical step after a cut, you know, what differentiates the great ones,” Bielema said. “Boy, he had a couple where he put his foot on the ground today that I thought were good.
“And I tell you what, nice to see J-Day (Juan Day) make a play there at the end on the wide bounce. Just every day I've kind of been waiting for that play to see that kid I saw on film in high school. It's been two and half years since he played. I think today we might have seen that.”
The Razorbacks went through some 80 plays, some that involved contact and some that didn’t.
"I really thought after Tuesday's practice, I challenged our guys in the Thursday meeting that we were doing a lot of good things," Bielema said. "But I needed everybody to pick it up the level of intensity and execution to get to the level we needed to be by next Saturday.
“Thursday's practice was outstanding. I thought it was one of the better practices for us. Guys just took a step forward.”
The Razorbacks will host their Red-White game next Saturday with the first team taking on everybody else.
“We've done it the last three years,” Bielema said. “It’s going to be the same thing. Ones against the world is what I call it. Marketing department, what is it, the Red-White game? Something like that.
“The Red better win. If our 1s don’t win, we're in trouble. Everybody comes up with these Draft Night, let guys draft their team, split the teams up, split the coaches up. That, to me, just isn't in my frame of mind.
“I preach and preach and preach how we work together in giving us success or failure. I want our 1 o-line to work together with the 1 quarterback, 1 tight end, 1 wide receivers against the best possible defense I can provide them.
“But I want my No. 1 D-line to work with my No. 1 linebacker, No. 1 DBs. It's the only way you can consistently get communication and all that stuff together.
“It may not be exactly riveting, but…2s get double the points if they score. I've got a couple tricks up my sleeve to give to the crowd if they want to have some old-school memories or flashbacks.
“We'll do that at the end of the first quarter and third quarter. Should be fun for the fans and everybody else.”
Williams should be participating in the Red-White game.
“We will probably let Rawleigh play in the spring game, we are just not going to tackle when he is in there.”
Senior defensive end Deatrich Wise, who led the SEC in sacks in league games last season, and his fellow defensive lineman dominated the day.
“I just had to take him out of there today,” Bielema said. “He’s so disruptive I wanted to get some type of rhythm going. Only time I jumped in today. He spun inside and we lost contain on the one.
“But he has built his body up, he has built his mentality up. He finally jumped out of that adolescent period into adulthood. I really think he's got all his ducks in a row for something special.”
Offensive linemen Hjalte Froholdt and Colton Jackson are learning under fire trying to keep Wise, defensive tackle Jeremiah Ledbetter and defensive end McTelvin Agim out of the backfield.
"Hjalte Froholdt probably had as good two practices back-to-back as he has had,” Bielema said. “He only has been playing guard through  practices now. He drilled a Mike linebacker on a scheme. It was really impressive.
"Also I thought Colton Jackson had a good week this week. Those two guys in particular on the left side stepped forward. We need the right guard whoever that is going to be, Brian Wallace, (Deion) Malone or whoever it ends up being.”
Bielema also praised field goal kicker Cole Hedlund, punter Toby Baker and deep snapper George Madden for their work in spring drills.
He also noted that starting defensive end Tevin Beanum will not be back for any more spring practices as he deals with a personal issue, academics and an injury.
“He won't be with us this spring,” Bielema said. “Everything’s going in the right direction. I had a great conversation with him mom on Thursday. I wasn't here yesterday. But I know they had a good conversation with all the people involved, medical wise, academics and everything.
“He just kind of hit a tough spot in his life and giving him a lot of support to do it. Should finish out the semester. I think in the intercession, he'll be one of the few guys we keep in the intercession and then he'll be back with us full go in June and see where we can go.”
Bielema noted that he will be moving Monday’s practice to Friday next week as the final week of spring drills rolls around.
"I liked the way we looked today," Bielema said. "We are going to move practice from Monday to the end of the week to get a good look at the film," Bielema said. "We will leave them alone on Sunday. Bring them in on Monday and hopefully get good work on Tuesday and Wednesday. Friday shine things up an then on Saturday we will go one's against the world."