Just how much better his team will be this coming season will get tested right out of the gate when Arkansas travels to Auburn to face the defending SEC Champion Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
In a 35-17 victory last season in Fayetteville, Auburn was able to grind out a victory with quarterback Nick Marshall not even close to full strength because of a shoulder injury. This time around things should be much different with Marshall a more confident quarterback following a full season of starting and with a spring practice under his belt.
With his team more confident in what they are doing on both sides of the football as well, Bielema noted he is excited about having the opportunity to take on Auburn right out of the gate this fall.
"I don't think we could ask for a better scenario than to play a team that accomplished so much a year ago," Bielema said. "They are a very well-coached football team with a lot of very good players back. We're going to open it up on the SEC Network. To have all that going for us in one direction is a very, very positive thing."
Hoping to get a head start on the prep for next year, Arkansas spent part of the spring working on Auburn and getting prepared for the no-huddle offenses they'll see in 2014. Saying that he was pleased with the improvement of his defense in terms of communication and playing faster, Bielema added that it's something he has learned to do over the years because of the looks his old-school offensive system gives to his own defense day in and day out.
"I think it's more specific with what I have learned as a head coach because of the style of offense that we run, when we play opponents like Auburn, Texas Tech, we play Northern Illinois at the beginning of the season, what we really needed to do was work the type of offenses they run," Bielema said. "It's so dramatically different from what our offense runs.
"Early on as a head coach I ignored the quarterback run game in the spread offenses and we didn't fare for a couple of years as well as we should have," he added. "It wasn't so much preparation against Auburn and Texas Tech and Northern Illinois, more it was about the unique offense they bring that is different than ours."
Auburn and Arkansas will square off on Aug. 30 on the SEC Network. Game time is still to be announced.