FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas coach Bret Bielema has been spending time during the bye week demanding answers from his staff on how the Razorbacks are planning to solve their run defense issues.
The Hogs (5-3, 1-3 SEC) surrendered a school record 543 rushing yards in a 56-3 loss to Auburn last Saturday. In their previous two losses, Texas A&M had 366 yards and Alabama 264 on the ground.
“One thing that I asked (defensive coordinator) Robb (Smith) and the defensive staff is what are we going to do when they’re running the football?,” coach Bret Bielema said Wednesday. “If we believe in the No. 1 thing we’re going to do is stop the run, I want to know how are we going to do that. No more of this, this and this. I want to know what are we going to do to stop the run. I ask that every game, but that’s the driving point this week. If teams are going to run the football, what’s your answer?”
Arkansas has allowed an average of 331 rushing yards per game and 17 rushing touchdowns in its four SEC contests this season. The Hogs rank last in the conference by a wide margin in both of those categories.
Last season, the Razorbacks allowed an average of just 123 rushing yards in SEC games. Despite returning nine starters and several other contributors on defense, the numbers against the run clearly haven’t translated.
“I told our players before the year started there wasn’t going to be one touchdown or one tackle from last year that carried into this year,” Bielema said. “I’m not saying that they’ve tried to rest on that or anything, but just because you played good football in the past doesn’t guarantee it for the future. We have to get guys playing better.”