Before heading to Dickey-Stephens Park to make an appearance at the Diamond Hogs’ now annual game in Central Arkansas, Razorback Coach Bret Bielema stopped at the annual Saline County Razorback Club Fish Fry on Wednesday night where he spoke and met with fans.
It doesn’t take long watching Coach Bielema speak in person and work a room of autograph seekers to understand why people like him. He’s a very personable, likeable guy. He has no issues poking fun or being open about himself which is likely one of the reasons he is so often able to win on the recruiting trail.
Bielema spoke briefly about his first days at Arkansas as he balanced hiring a staff and hitting the recruiting trail. He mentioned some of his more prized recruits — Hunter Henry, Martell Spaight, Denver Kirkland, Alex Collins, and Reeve Koehler. He even went as far as to call Koehler, a Hawaiian native who comes in at 6’4” and 321 lbs, a human Rubik’s Cube.
If any of you mothers out there were wondering, he did promise to send Alex Collins’ mom a Mother’s Day card. Collins’ mom is known famously for disappearing with the star Florida running back’s paperwork on signing day. It appeared she was less than happy about her son’s decision to sign with Arkansas.
As far as actual football information, there weren’t many revelations. Under Bielema Arkansas fans can expect a pro-style attack from the Hogs. Coach plans to slowly change the athlete type at Arkansas from what he called the “pretty speed guys” that the last regime was in love with to “big ugly’s” who will fit a power attack similar to the style of what he put on the field at Wisconsin.
As expected defensively, he plans to run a 4-3 scheme. Although asked, he didn’t mention any specific names at who might fill the outside linebacker position. (The odds-on favorite is likely Jarrett Lake.) Coach did praise the back field that was on campus when he arrived, something that might surprise a lot of Hog fans. He also touted both the speed and skill set of Will Hines, Tevin Mitchell, and Rohan Gaines.
Bielema revealed his reasoning behind the closing of spring practice to the media saying that he wanted the opportunity for the team and coaches to get familiar with each other without having to read about what was going in practice on the internet. He suggested that the media would get a ‘surprise’ visit to practice sooner than the already planned three open practices.
The head Hog was asked if he thought he could beat Alabama to which he smiled and said “yes.” Coach Bielema followed with what was likely his best statement of the night. After praising what Alabama has accomplished recently, he went on to say that if you compare his record in the Big 10 Conference to that of the Alabama head coach, his [Bielema’s] was better.
Although the night held no real surprises in football news it was fun for fans to see Bielema in action. There is little doubt the former defensive lineman and pig farmer is right at home as the Head Hog.
Photo Credit: Both the feature and the autographed football photos are courtesy of Amy Crane. Thanks, Amy!