Arkansas coach Bret Bielema joined “The Paul Finebaum Show” Monday to speak about his team heading into its spring game, the final of the SEC, this weekend.
Bielema named junior quarterback Austin Allen as the starter last week after Allen sat behind his brother, Brandon, the starter of the majority of the Razorbacks’ games over the past three seasons. The Arkansas coach said Austin’s stats through three weeks of spring practice were almost identical to Brandon’s last year, but Bielema initially recognized Allen’s ascent during the team’s fall practices.
“(Austin Allen) stood out,” Bielema said in the interview with Finebaum. “We had about four or five practices where it was just them (the returning players for the 2016 season) and he was head and shoulders above everybody else and that continued in the spring.”
The younger Allen will be on display Saturday in one of the nation’s last college football spring games, which Bielema says is by design. The longer spring gives the players more time in the weight room.
“What’s better than one summer? Two summers,” Bielema said. “One of the things we do in our program is two eight-week programs. One in the summer like everybody else, but also one in January, February, March, before we even think about playing football. I just want our guys to know you’re going to get eight weeks of work in before you even think about putting on a uniform, because we need to get your body right.”
Bielema highlighted his own combined weight gain of 75 pounds as a player between the summers of his freshman and junior seasons as evidence to support the development schedule. The program, Bielema says, can help account for the talent disparity between Arkansas and other schools in the SEC.
“When I make my schedule, I don’t look at anybody else’s. I don’t pay attention to what they’re doing. I believe in development,” Bielema said. “We’re never going to have a sexy roster of five-stars or four-stars. We’ve got a bunch of guys that like to go to work every day and want to develop.”
The Arkansas Red and White Spring Game will be televised this Saturday on the SEC Network at 1.p.m. ET.