Arkansas had a bye week this past Saturday and now is preparing for Auburn coming to Razorback Stadium this week.
D'Arthur Cowan could return punts for Arkansas on Saturday against Auburn.
Bret Bielema met with the media Monday at noon to discuss various aspects of the program. Here's five key impressions from the press conference.
Saturday will be Senior Day since it's the last game to played in Razorback Stadium this season. Arkansas will recognize 20 student-athletes playing their final game in Fayetteville.
“The seniors, I'm excited for them,” Bielema said. “I've had limited opportunity to get to know these guys since walking in in December.
“I wouldn't trade my time with them for anything. Getting to know them, getting to go through certain things. Have them come in my office as complete strangers. Hopefully, when we take the game field on Saturday they know how much I love them, trust them and have faith in them. I've seen a lot of guys really grow and take a big step forward.”
Bielema said he knows this will be an emotional time and hopes the players are able to lock into the game afterwards.
Bielema was asked if this game carried some extra meaning for him since Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn was an assistant coach for a year at Arkansas and is from the state.
“I don't really know Gus,” Bielema said. “I know the history. I have shaken his hand on two different occasions and never had a conversation with him. I know everybody kind of plays that thing up and now with the film thing it's going to get blown out of proportion too. I will let the league office handle that.
“The biggest thing for us is to know it's always about the players. It doesn't have anything to do about where the coaches came from. Obviously Tim Horton played here. We know there's quite a few of their coaches have working and playing experience here.”
The film thing that Bielema talked about was the film Arkansas got from Auburn was missing some plays that Arkansas only knew about because it also had the TV version of the film.
“There was some clips haven't.....shall we say the TV copy doesn't match the film copy (received from Auburn),” Bielema said. “That's something we've kind of been aware of for the last week and a half in our preparation. We can use other film to make sure we're getting the whole picture.”
Bielema said the film was missing some stuff from this past Saturday night.
“On the TV film the play in the Swinging Gate at the beginning of the play,” Bielema said. “It obviously happened. It was on the TV copy.
“When we got the video copy from them that same exact play doesn't show them in a Swinging Gate it just shows them in a regular PAT. If I hadn't watched the TV copy and our guys hadn't had time to go back and review we would have ever known that to happen. I'm sure it's a glitch. Gus stands for everything that is right. I'm sure it's just a glitch that [the SEC office] will get to the bottom of.”
Auburn is off to a 7-1 start this season after struggling last year. Bielema was asked what he has seen that he feels has allowed Auburn to enjoy success this season.
“They run the Spread offense so there was probably a little bit of carryover from them,” Bielema said. “Gus has got an extremely unique package that they are obviously grasping very, very well. I think their execution has gotten better each game which means the kids are buying into it a 100-percent.
“They had a couple of things defensively they have rectified as the season went along. I think their front seven is extremely talented and their back end is very gifted, athletic and fast. I think they are minus-1 in the turnover thing so they secure the football and take care of it.”
Junior quarterback Nick Marshall has been the starter and he has caught Bielema's eye.
“They are No. 1 in the SEC rushing the football and he's a viable part of that,” Bielema said. “Whether it's a read zone or quarterback-run game or he makes the right call on where the ball needs to be handed off. He's very efficient. I think he has gotten better every game. You can see him gaining confidence.”
Arkansas could see some different players getting some extra playing time this week. One change could be at punt returner.
“D'Arthur Cowan had probably his best practice last Thursday,” Bielema said. “A couple of guys on the offensive line, I think Grady Ollison is feeling a 100-percent so he's a guy that could work back up and give up some depth at the tackle position.
“Cowan was our No. 1 punt returner before he went down so not only at receiver but at punt returner as well. At linebacker, Martrell Spaight really hasn't played much the past couple of games. He's a guy who has a tremendous upside.”
Bielema said cornerback Will Hines and defensive tackle Robert Thomas, who are both injured, were playing as well as they had all season when they got hurt. Bielema said the bye week gave their replacements some extra practice time. Darius Philon and DeMarcus Hodge are replacing Thomas while Jared Collins, Carroll Washington and D.J. Dean are working at Hines' cornerback spot.
Since some Nebraska fans were pretty harsh on some Cornhusker players on Twitter this past weekend, Bielema was asked what his rules for his players are on social media?
“I don't really have any set rules on social media,” Bielema said. “I encourage the guys to think about all the things that could possibly go wrong.
“It's just one of those things you've got to pay the consequences if you are a person who actively takes part in it. We have some guys who do. It is a viable part of recruiting for us. I understand somebody coming after me, I get it, I totally understand, but when you talk about 18-to-22 year-old kids that get a scholarship and all that comes into it. I think it goes back to the Georgia quarterback a couple of years ago and they egged his house. Who would take the time to do something like that?”