Arkansas didn’t score the most points, have the biggest margin of victory and aren’t even ranked, but what the Razorbacks did in Bret Bielema’s debut as head coach was one of the more impressive things in college football’s opening week.
Bielema needed only four quarters to radically change the culture of the Hogs program that endured one of the worst seasons in recent memory in 2012, but after a dominating win over Louisiana-Lafayette in Fayetteville on Saturday, that is a distant memory for the Arkansas faithful.
With a balanced offense and a disciplined roster — Arkansas had only four penalties — Bielema’s club diminished any talk of a rebuilding effort underway with the Razorbacks program. Much of the talk this offseason was whether Bielema was SEC material and how long it would take for this program to get back to an elite level.
If one game is an indicator of future performance, Arkansas will be bowling this fall. The notion that Bielema needed a year or two to get his type of players on campus before he could experience a significant turnaround now seems preposterous.
Brandon Allen showed poise in the pocket and delivered the ball where it was supposed to go when it was supposed to get there. The two-headed monster at running back featuring Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins was dominating, as each ran for more than 100 yards and combined for 282.
Collins became the first freshman since Felix Jones to rush for more than 100 in his debut, and the former five-star back looks like a future All-American candidate.
Hunter Henry is a mismatch nightmare at tight end, and the former top recruit was the preferred target of Allen all afternoon, and the two should only get better with each passing game. Most encouraging was the offensive line, which paved the way for 292 yards.
Bielema’s calling card at Wisconsin was a punishing run game behind a road-grading line, and it appears as if Bielema will have no difficulty carrying that tradition down south.
Many underestimated Arkansas entering this season including myself, but I am quick to realize the error of my ways and I’m all aboard the Bielema bandwagon. Shame on me for not believing he could win instantly.
Arkansas dominated time of possession, out-rushed their opponent by more than 200 yards, didn’t commit, won the turnover battle and converted more than 50 percent of third down attempts.
This is Bielema’s blueprint for winning, and the rest of the SEC better not underestimate this Arkansas team or they will be on the short end of the scoreboard.
The Bielema era is underway at Arkansas, and it’s already exceeding expectations. The Razorbacks were the most impressive team in the opening week of the 2013 college football season.