FAYETTEVILLE -- As they enter their final week of spring practice, the Razorbacks have just about everything - in terms of offensive and defensive playbook - installed and are putting the finishing touches on the five-week period.
Arkansas used a few of their practice periods last week to prepare for some of its 2017 opponents who have varying offenses and will continue to do so this week.
Head coach Bret Bielema said the team also cross-trained on the opposite side of the ball for a couple of periods Thursday. That means offensive players did some drills with the defensive coaches and vice versa.
"The offensive coaches taught our defensive guys ball security, how to secure a ball after the act, (and) tip ball drill," Bielema said. "The defensive coaches taught the offensive players two tackle circuits and a ball recovery drill where the ball is on the ground, how to properly recover it."
Those skills will come in handy when Arkansas' defenders are returning a fumble or interception and when Arkansas' offensive players have to tackle an opponent on those type of plays.
2016 Finish Not Forgotten
It would be hard to imagine a much worse finish to a season than how Arkansas capped its 2016 season.
The Razorbacks blew a 17-point halftime lead in its regular-season finale at Missouri and then blew a 24-point halftime lead against Virginia Tech in the Belk Bowl. The latter loss was the largest blown lead at any point of any game in school history.
While most Arkansas fans would probably like to forget those two games, Bielema said he has tried to use them as a teaching tool for his team.
"We can't act like they didn't happen," Bielema said. "We have to do things that turn negatives into a positive. We really stressed (that) to our guys and they have been. They are hungry. They are very coachable."
Bielema mentioned that several coaches have come by Fayetteville to watch practice or workouts since the season ended.
Among them were Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun and an unnamed Pittsburgh coach, who was likely head coach Pat Narduzzi or defensive line coach Charlie Partridge. (Narduzzi was the defensive coordinator at Michigan State while Bielema was at Wisconsin and Partridge was one of Bielema's assistants at Wisconsin and Arkansas.)
"It's always nice to hear another head coach come in and say some things they observe as positive," Bielema said. "I had a coach from Pittsburgh that I admire and respect make the same comment as to how our guys look, act and practice."