FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas coach Bret Bielema addressed the media Monday as the Hogs prepare to face Virginia Tech in the Belk Bowl (Dec. 29, 4:30 p.m. CT).
Here’s the rundown of what Bielema had to say:
- Bielema opens with recruiting discussion during the recent contact period: “It’s been a long couple weeks. I was in four states yesterday. It was a heck of a way to spend Sunday, but it’s been good. I think recruiting is going very, very well. Kids are excited. We gained some momentum here the last two weeks.”
- Bielema says they are still expected “an unprecedented number” of midterm enrollees in the 2017 recruiting class. “Some with be junior college, but the majority will be high school.” Bielema adds some of those players will go through a few bowl practices beginning Dec. 19.
- The team has begun to “lock into” preparation for Virginia Tech. Bielema has “a lot of respect” for the Hokies. “I can’t say enough about how well they play. Obviously Coach Fuente does a nice job, as is the case everywhere he’s been. Their offense is driven by their quarterback, a beryl, very good player. Obviously has a great rushing numbers and throwing numbers.”
- Sophomore linebacker Dre Greenlaw “has an outside chance” to play in the Belk Bowl. He has been out since early October after breaking his right foot. “More than anything I want him to continue to progress as a player. But if he can play, he will play.”
- Senior running back Kody Walker has been going through some practice and may also play in the bowl game. He had a foot injury that was believed to be career ending.
- Bielema says the program may be able to add a 10th assistant next season. He said he was recently on an SEC conference call in which the coaches discussed the possibility of passing a rule to elevate form nine to 10 assistants.
- Bielema on his assistants and other jobs: “If I don’t think it’s a good idea, I’ll tell you. I would much rather be open with my guys. I do think uncharacteristic to years past there will be a lot more (movement nationally) after January 1st.” Bielema says schools have already inquired about some of his assistants, and that happens every year.
- Junior center Frank Ragnow and wide receiver Jared Cornelius both turned in their paperwork to get assessed by the NFL after the Missouri game. Bielema anticipates they may get the grades back just before they leave for the Belk Bowl on Dec. 24.
- The practices the first two weeks after the Missouri game were “pretty physical” according to Bielema. The majority of those practices were based around developmental players.
- Bielema says Christmas will “probably be our most intense day” of practice. “I don’t want to be the Grinch, but that’s probably what it’ll be. It’s hard to have anything. That’s why I want to have a nice, grind-it-out practice.”
- Bielema on senior left tackle Dan Skipper making first-team All-SEC: “He’s a complete player. He’s moved into a true draft stock possibility. His best football is still in front of him. It’s been very interesting.” Bielema adds he was “floored” to not have Ragnow or TE Jeremy Sprinkle on the first-team All-SEC roster. “I think the name and the hype kind of plays into that sometimes.”
- Bielema says the defensive has been “tinkering with going to a 3-4.”
- Bielema on defensive lineman McTelvin “Sosa” Agim: “He’s a very good player. He’s got to learn to play hard all the time. The thing that’s so exciting about about him is he can do a little bit of everything.”
- On the injuries to Greenlaw and nickelback Kevin Richardson: “As we’ve looked back and watched film, you realize (how much you lost). K-Rich was the one guys going into fall camp that could play all five DB positions.”
- Bielema thought QB Austin Allen “took a long time” to get the hit he took at Auburn “out of his memory,” speaking specifically of the play that sprained his knee. He says going forward Allen has to continue to realize this is his team and take ownership of it.