Collins Expects Day For “Big Boy Football”

What do you see from the Arkansas offense? Coach Geoff Collins: “They’ve got two big-time running backs, I think both of them are on pace for 1,000 yards. I think their offensive line is one of the biggest in football, not just college football but pros, whatever. They’re very physical, they’re very well-coached.”

“They’ve got multiple tight ends that do a really nice job in the run game and they’re really good receivers. The receivers are dynamic play-makers and the quarterback makes great decisions, has a live arm. He’s been around football all of his life so he knows where to go with the football, he knows where to go with the run games. So it presents a big challenge, because it’s them and LSU that have been the predominantly I-back, downhill run game and they do a great job with it.”

With the way they use their tight ends the linebackers can’t sell out on the run? “Yeah, the scout team has done a great job trying to get us ready. But the big thing about going against offenses every week in scout teams is the speed of the game is going to be significantly different than what we see during practice. They do a great job but it’s a new challenge for us we haven’t seen in a couple of weeks. So it’s big-boy football, we’ve got to be ready.”

Coach Mullen talked about the 1B defense giving up more yardage… “Thanks, I appreciate that!”

…Did you see that? “We did. That’s the first thing we saw. But we’re committed to it, we’re committed to those guys playing, we’re committed to those guys improving every week. The nice thing about the way we’ve kind of structured things this season, when we need to get stops regardless of who is on the field we get those stops.”

”In the last series of the game we had to kind of close the door on Kentucky, Matt Wells gets a sack, we get pressure here, we get pressure there. And it’s all those guys that kind of played a lot but were still kind of fresh to go in that fourth quarter. So it pays off. You might not be happy all the time but the end result and the way the season progresses and the longer it gets you’re happy you’re playing those guys and the other guys are still fresh as the season goes along.”

Kaleb Eulls isn’t flashy on the defensive line but has started every game of his career, what makes him so good? “Kaleb is one of the finest human beings I’ve ever been around. Not just football players, people. Character, hard work, integrity, you just can’t say enough about him.

“It’s funny, the week before we were in a defensive unit meeting and watching some plays at practice. Kaleb and Ryan Brown are just working so hard, and I just stopped and ‘you two don’t get enough credit for what you do for this program and enough recognition.’ It’s nice to see a kid like Kaleb Eulls who has all the intangibles, the work ethic, the character, get to show on the field what he can really do.”

“He’s been (MSU) player of the week this year with maybe even having only one tackle. But he does such a great job for Benardrick (McKinney) and Beniquez (Brown) and Richie (Brown), freeing them up, doing the dirty work for us. So I’m just proud of him and even if he hadn’t got that (SEC Defensive Lineman OTW) recognition he would still be the same kid who’d still come to work every day, still have the same attitude. So it is nice though that he gets the recognition he deserves.”

How does Arkansas’ size impact what you do personnel-wise, maybe using different combinations? “We’re kind of structured that way because the thing Coach Mullen and the rest of the coaching staff has done is we’ve recruited big people. You have the Chris Jones’ of the world, the Nick James’, Preston Smith, Ryan Brown. In Benardrick McKinney you’ve got a 6-5, 260-pound middle linebacker. So we’ve got some big guys, too. But it still poses a great challenge because of how physical they are. We’ve got to understand that to play well against them we’ve got to match that physicality.”

Is this a game the technique of those linemen matters more since you won’t bull-rush as much? “Yeah, I think technique is important every single game. But just the energy and the juice they have to play with. Last Saturday one of the biggest things that was missing was the energy and the juice that kind of made us who we are throughout the season. There were times last Saturday I didn’t see it. So this Saturday in front of our home crowd the energy and the juice and the things that make us who we are are very important, very critical.”

Tight end Hunter Henry has 18 catches, another tight end has 17. How does that change things? “Just understand that that is a key factor. And understanding which guys do what, and which situations they like to get the ball to what guys. It’s a unique challenge and one we haven’t seen this year, so we have to be ready for it.”

Beniquez says he goes to his apartment and does film study, does that set him apart? “We were actually talking about that today in the linebacker meeting room. The way we prepare, the film sheets we use, the different cut-ups we make that are kind of unique for that position; and the intelligence that I’m fortunate to have in the room at linebacker. They do a great job of understanding situations, seeing film, seeing little bitty things that might hopefully tip things off. I mean you kind of see that through out the season, them doing a good job. I think it shows in their performance.”

How proud were you of Turtle Holmes’ touchdown return at Kentucky? “I’m glad nobody had a camera on me! Because as he’s running it back I’m sitting there like I’m holding a baby! Go get it, Turtle, go get it, just hold on to that football! And he dove into the end zone, I mean it was great. It couldn’t happen to a better kid. He’s put so much into this program and for him to have a moment like that it was huge. And I mean he’s had moments like that during the season where he’s made really big plays for us. But that one? Everybody sees him. It’s on Sports Center, it’s on Youtube, and ‘Turtle Music’ going with it? I mean it’s awesome! And he has earned it because he works so hard. He studies, he’s unselfish. All the things you want from a college football player to coach, he’s got it. And for him to be rewarded with a play like that is special.”

He almost didn’t return for the senior year, but did and now you have a regular rotation linebacker and special teams star? “He’s playing well. I’m just proud of him. I’m happy he was able to have that kind of moment on such a big stage. It’s awesome.”

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