Bret Bielema bolted from the Big Ten this offseason the head to the SEC as the new head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks. He brings an impressive resume with him with three straight Rose Bowl berths with the Wisconsin Badgers while fielding one of the more physical running games in college football. He’ll now try and transition that success down south, but don’t expect it to be easy with a brutal 2013 schedule ahead of him.
In his first season at Arkansas, Bielema must travel to play the Alabama Crimson Tide, LSU Tigers, Florida Gators and Ole Miss Rebels and host the South Carolina Gamecocks and Texas A&M Aggies. He will have to run the gamut of the cream of the SEC crop and will have to do it while learning how to win in a new conference with a new team that is learning all-new philosophies on both offense and defense while facing some of the stiffest competition in the country. Nothing like a tall order, right?
To make things even more complicated, he will have to do it without any of the Hogs’ playmakers from 2012. Quarterback Tyler Wilson, running backs Knile Davis and Dennis Johnson and receiver Cobi Hamilton are all gone leaving Bielema scrambling to find playmakers on offense. That doesn’t even address the lack of playmakers on defense which have undermined Arkansas in the past. The new head coach focused on changing that on the recruiting trail this offseason, but how successful he was is still left to be seen.
Arkansas must find its identity under Bielema, but they won’t be given much time to do it in 2013. They will be tested as soon as SEC play begins and they won’t get a breather for the rest of the season. Can Bielema build Arkansas up in the long run despite a rocky inaugural season?