FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas coach Bret Bielema addressed the media Monday as the No. 16 Razorbacks prepare to face No. 1 Alabama on Saturday.
The Hogs are coming off a 52-10 win over Alcorn State.
Here’s the rundown of what Bielema had to say.
- “A lot of positive things from Saturday’s game. Things we need to improve on and grow on.” Bielema adds the team had its best practice last Tuesday and did a good job of approaching the game coming off a loss against a lesser opponent.
- Offensive MVPs from the game: Devwah Whaley, Jared Cornelius and Frank Ragnow.
- Defensive MVPs: Jared Collins.
- Special teams MVPs: Ryder Lucas.
- Bielema has reminded the team when you’re playing a team like Alabama to “just do your job.”
- “This weekend I had two phone calls you never want to get,” Bielema says referencing Hayden Johnson’s arrest and the passing of Frank Ragnow’s father.
- Johnson has accepted responsibility and Bielema is confident he will learn from this going forward.
- Bielema is near tears as he discusses the passing of Ragnow’s father. Ragnow’s mother called Bielema to inform him of the news after the game. His father died of a heart attack after watching the game with his family.
- Ragnow flew home to Minnesota Saturday night and Bielema thinks he’ll be back with the team later in the week. Bielema and his wife Jen also made the trip with Ragnow before returning back early Sunday morning. Ragnow told Bielema he wanted to play this week before he returned home.
- Johnson will likely play in the game Saturday despite being removed from the depth chart. Kendrick Jackson will start at fullback, but Bielema says Johnson will almost certainly play.
- Bielema says he’s still been able to keep his full focus on Alabama. He says he’s been able to separate being there for Ragnow and preparing for the game.
- It was important for Bielema to fly back with Ragnow based on past experiences. He’s twice previously had players he was close to lose parents. He also referenced his sister’s death while he was in college.
- “I can’t promise you playing time, but I can promise you I’ll always look out for your sons best interest,” Bielema says he tells parents and he wanted to live up to that.
- Bielema says it’s a little bit different for the defense this week since Alabama is no longer a pro-style team and runs more of a spread offense. He says their look offensively is the only things that’s different about the team.
- On Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts: “I think they’re using his talents as well as any team we’ve faced.” Bielema adds that Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin is a “good, creative playcaller.”
- Alabama plays defense in a way that prevents “a lot of big-play opportunities.”
- On recruits visiting other schools: “In our program, you have to have an allegiance to one. At Arkansas, you have to buy in to our formula and have a non-elitist status. Before they commit we have a very, very detailed conversation about if you’re going to commit you’re not going to look at anybody else.” Bielema says sometimes he’ll make exceptions, but “for the most part once you’re in, you’re in.”
- Bielema is confident that QB Austin Allen will be ready for any situations the game Saturday may present. He believes his demeanor is an advantage for the team in a big game like that.
- Alabama is a team that Bielema says will take advantage to “seize the opportunity if you let up for a split second” as he references the close games they’ve had with them the past two seasons.
- Bielema says it was great to get freshman linebacker De’Jon Harris on the field with significant playing time against Alcorn State. He feels Harris is playing well for such a young player.