Heading into the 2015 football season, Arkansas fans had high hopes and thought this weekend’s contest at No. 8 Alabama would be a pivotal game in the race for the SEC West title.
However, things took a turn for the worse before the season even got going when senior running back Jonathan Williams went down with a season-ending injury.
But all was not lost. Junior running back Alex Collins was waiting in the wings ready to take over the starting role full-time. Collins knew he would have to pick up the slack and lead the Razorback offense.
“It was stressful at first,” Collins said at Bret Bielema’s weekly radio show Thursday. “I felt bad for (Williams). I knew it would be different. I was under his wing since I got here, and not having him out there anymore is just a different experience.”
Collins has adjusted quite nicely and been an impressive force in the Arkansas backfield. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native has 656 yards on 113 carries and six touchdowns this season.
“This is the best Alex I’ve seen,” Bielema said.
Bielema emphasized that what Collins has done without the football in his hands is what’s made him standout.
From picking up guys in pass protection to being a good mentor for the younger running backs on the roster, Bielema and running backs coach Jemal Singleton have been impressed with Collins’ play this year.
“He gets as fired up about getting a knock down on pass protection than he does about his carries,” Singleton said. “There’s not a running back in the country I’d want on third downs in pass protection than Alex Collins.”
“I think I should get helmet sticker every time I get a knockdown,” Collins joked back at his coach.
For Collins, it’s all about doing the little things right, something that has admittedly become easier as he’s matured as a football player.
“I have a better understanding of the game,” Collins said.
Needless to say, Collins has been huge for Arkansas’ offense this season, and he needs to continue to be so if the Razorbacks want to keep momentum going following their 24-20 win at Tennessee this past Saturday.