BELLA VISTA, Ark. — Arkansas coach Bret Bielema gets excited for every season around this time, but entering his fourth year with the Razorbacks, this year feels a little different.
“I know our guys better than I’ve ever known them,” Bielema told reporters Friday after playing in the annual NWA Razorback Club Golf Tournament. “Going into year four, I know who they are, I know what they are, I know their weaknesses, I know their strengths are, I know what we’ve gotta do, I know what we don’t gotta do.”
Also, for the first time in his Arkansas tenure, Bielema will have the same offensive and defensive coordinators in consecutive seasons. Offensive coordinator Dan Enos is returning for his second year, while defensive coordinator Robb Smith is entering his third season with the Hogs.
Arkansas players report for fall camp next Wednesday and begin preseason practices Thursday.
Here’s a few more tidbits from Bielema’s media session following Friday’s golf tournament:
- Bielema said he “never” wants to play Arkansas State in football.
- Bielema addressed the departure of kicker Lane Sailing, saying that he “just kinda lost the love of the game.” He also — again — confirmed the transfers of wide receiver Eric Hawkins and defensive back Willie Sykes. Bielema added that “there’s a couple other guys that are in a holding pattern,” but didn’t say who they were.
- Bielema said he isn’t sure where Texas graduate transfer offensive lineman Jake Raulerson will fit into the picture, but that he will play either center or guard. He went on to say that he isn’t at all sure what his first-team offensive line will look like, and that he’ll have a better idea after a couple practices.
- Arkansas returns very little experience at running back, but Bielema is excited by the guys that will compete for carries. He said that sixth-year senior Kody Walker “looks really good,” although he added that for Walker to be an every-down back, he’ll have to lose a little more weight. Right now, he’s at 242 pounds. Walker will compete with sophomore Rawleigh Williams III, junior Duwop Mitchell and highly-touted true freshmen Devwah Whaley and T.J. Hammonds. “I think we’re gonna be a trial by committee with those five guys and see where it plays out,” Bielema said.
- Bielema on preseason polls, which aren’t high on the Hogs for 2016: “What they say in preseason polls has nothing more to say than what they say in barber shops and restaurants and chat rooms and all that stuff. What we say at the end of the season is what matters.”
- Bielema on new starting quarterback Austin Allen: “You know, I’m excited. I think one of the things that I always urged him to do was to take advantage of the experience his brother was having. I think he tried to do that the best he could. It’s never the same, you know, but the way his leadership continued during the summer. Anytime there was a chance to step up and lead he did it. I’m excited to see him take the reins.”