Jason Ivester

Bret Bielema talks Arkansas Razorbacks' 12th practice, spring drills

Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema touched on a wide variety of topics following Saturday's practice.

Jamario Bell was a two-way standout at Junction City (Ark.) High School, but has switched around some at Arkansas. He came to Arkansas as a defensive end, but then switched to tight end. This week, he's back on defense, but this time at outside linebacker.

It's a move that possibly could ignite Bell's career since the Razorbacks are putting in the new 3-4 defense. Bell, who had scholarship offers to play basketball in college, is a good athlete and the freedom he has at outside linebacker could give him a very good chance at playing. Bret Bielema praised his work this week at the new position.

"Moved Jamario Bell back to defense," Bielema said. "Put him at our outside linebacker, the Hog position. He kind of looked at me at first, wasn't all that excited. Talked to him and mom. And he made the transition, probably as good a practice on Thursday as he's had in his career here. Just really excited about that move. A lot of good plays out there again today."

In addition, as was reported on Thursday, Michael Taylor has moved from the Hog linebacker to defensive end. Bielema also talked about that on Saturday.

"He took to that really, really well," Bielema said. "He tried it as a stand-up guy for us, but that wasn't where his heart was. He actually really performed a lot better once we moved him."wo

Which end is Taylor working at now?

"Mike was over on that left side," Taylor said. "I have Sosa (McTelvin Agim), Briston (Guidry) and Michael, kind of all similar guys. Those guys that are quick-twitch and similar body types, similar skillset. The right side has been a little bit bigger. In the fall, we’ll obviously have our best three and then our next best three and so forth. Just getting those guys familiar right now is what the main goal has been."

Red-White Format

Arkansas will play its Red-White game on Saturday at noon CT. Bielema will use the same format he has used each year at Arkansas.

"We’ll go ones against the world," Bielema said. "Something we’ve done. You saw it (because of stadium construction) that the scrimmage will go all one way. The flow of the scrimmage will be a little bit unique in that regard.

"The ones will be in all their traditional scoring and the twos and threes when they are in there against the ones their scores will double. We’ll have a rapid fire field goal at the end of the first and the end of the third quarter. First half I plan on being pretty good, traditional football. And we’ll see where we are at at halftime and make some adjustments from there."

With all the spring games on TV now, what are some of the things you are looking to show the fans on Saturday?

"I think they're going to see the improvement of certain guys," Bielema said. "I think offensively Austin's throwing the ball really well. They don't know any of our wide receivers, so to see new guys, Brandon Martin and Jonathan Nance, and the development of LaMichael Pettway and Deon Stewart has been very, very significant. I think that's good. I think they'll like Maleek Williams. Everybody gets excited about a new running back. I think the No. 2 quarterback (competition) has been a lot of fun to watch. Both Ty (Storey) and Cole (Kelley) do some really good things and then they'll have one of their moments and have got to grow from it.

"I thought Ty today was very, very efficient. He made a nice ball down the field. I like where he's going. But it's going to be fun to watch that 2 quarterback battle out.

"Then on defense, just to get a look at the 3-4. We probably won't bring a larger number of pressures or changeups, but they'll see how we line up and you'll see guys making plays. It's been fun to watch this group, especially some of the younger guys playing new positions coming into their own."

Will Kelley and Storey get some work with the first-team offense on Saturday?

"I will probably let Austin (Allen) take the entire first half unless something changes my mind," Bielema said. "They would take all the 2s and then if I’m a betting man, I might remove Austin fairly early in the second half if not all of it. He’s a very good player."

How important is spring games?

"It's exposure,"Bielema said. "We try to do something every year to kind of spice it up a little bit. I know it's not quite the same for the fans as far as a regular gameday atmosphere, but if you're a fan and you love it and you're a parent and you don't get to see your kid all that much play out there, it's a big deal.

"The reason I go ones against the world is I want that continuity to develop. So our one offense, our one defense works against each other. I don't vary from that too often and I think that's a positive step for that unit. Again, it's just kind of a glorified practice for us."

Running Back Duo

Last season, Rawleigh Williams III led the SEC in rushing with 1,360 yards and 12 touchdowns on 245 carries. Devwah Whaley carried 110 times for 602 yards and three touchdowns. Bielema was asked if Williams and Whaley can be among the best running back tandems in nation.

"Obviously we work in the SEC," Bielema said. "I think if you're one of the best in the SEC you've got a chance of being the best in the country. Those two guys, man, they're very gifted. Rawleigh probably has shown me that he's got a little bit more patience than we've ever seen, and that's a good thing on some of the wide plays. Devwah as we all know is very gifted.

"I tell you a guy that's been very impressive has been Maleek Williams. He's a tough, probably a little bit more thicker running back, but he's had a really nice spring as well. Those three guys, and in addition to J-Day. We'll see where Chase Hayden is when he comes in.

Will you back off Williams and Whaley some on Saturday or let them play most of game?

"They've got to get at football," Bielema said. "I don't think, now maybe after the first half we might make some adjustments."

Found His Spot

Randy Ramsey has always been a great looking physical specimen, but struggled at times at linebacker in the 4-3 and then defensive end last season. It wasn't so much he struggled last season as he just didn't have the size to face some of the offensive tackles on each snap.

The move to the 3-4 defense has allowed him to play the Razor linebacker and it appears it's been a good thing for Ramsey.

"Two things," Bielema said. "We had our academic meeting on Thursday and he’s set to have the best academic semester of his career. I don’t think that happens by chance. I think he’s taken a huge step in maturity. He came into my office the other day. There was an opportunity for extra credit and he went to that. I mean, just maturity wise, I’ve seen him take a big step. He’s an intense guy.

"He goes out there and likes the game, I think. He’s a guy that I really feel can have a big jump in the fall and a guy that athletically, he’s got a knack for rushing the passer, that’s for sure. He’s got very, very long arms, he’s a long athlete that’s got good power and can run. I’m excited."

Battle at Fourth Cornerback

Britto Tutt missed last season with a torn ACL after transferring in from junior college. This spring he has bounced back after being limited at first. Bielema talked about Tutt's progress.

"We limited him the first week,” Bielema said. “Britto didn't scrimmage in the first scrimmage, but we let him scrimmage after that. He is long for a corner, he is a diligent guy, he wants to get out there and he knows that he has to take advantage of his reps and his opportunity.

“Him and Nate Dalton are battling it out for the number four and number five corner spot.”

Offensive Line Making Strides

Bielema complimented Kurt Anderson on the improvement the offensive line has continued to show this spring.

"I think they just improve with practice,” Bielema. “I think Kurt does a tremendous job, he has really got their ear. I always measure a coach by what he makes a senior who is a pretty good player become.

“I thought the growth and development of Dan Skipper and now I am seeing it with Frank Ragnow, I am seeing it with Hjalte FroholdtJohnny Gibson, Colton Jackson has had a nice spring, again Brian Wallace has done some good things, but he has got to keep coming along.

"Paul Ramirez has taken a big step even after coming back from the funeral of his grandmother, who he was real close to. Deion MaloneDylan Hays is another guy that could help us in certain regards and Zach Rogers is the jack of all trades and it is fun to watch that group work.”

How about Jake Raulerson?

"Jake has been doing a nice job,” Bielema said. “He is kind of that ambidextrous guy as well. We have popped him out at guard, popped him in at tackle, he is playing center. Unfortunately, he had not a serious injury, but we held him out today. He should be back on Tuesday.

“He is another guy that is just a pleaser. He has put on about 15 to 20 pounds. We covered that once in here as well. I just think he is trying.”


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