When Bret Bielema was hired as the head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks, many wondered if he would bring his style of play with him to Fayetteville. Bielema was highly successful as the head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers, and his teams in Madison were known for their powerful running game and strong defense.
If there were any questions about Bielema’s plan in his first year in the Southeastern Conference, they have certainly been answered by this point. Heading into Saturday’s game against Southern Miss, the Razorbacks were the only SEC team averaging at least 300 rushing yards per game (312.5, to be exact). Arkansas also had the No. 1 rusher in the conference, freshman Alex Collins (151.5 yards per game), and the number three rusher in the league, Jonathan Williams (138.5).
So there was little doubt about what the Razorbacks would do on Saturday against Southern Miss. The Razorbacks ran the ball effectively once again, with Williams racking up 116 yards and a touchdown, while Collins had 115 yards and a score of his own.
In fact, the Razorbacks needed the rushing attack in this game even more than normal due to an injury to starting quarterback Brandon Allen, who hurt his shoulder on a first-quarter touchdown run. When Allen went down, the emphasis on the running game notched up even more. In the game, Arkansas rushed the ball 56 times for 258 yards, while passing only 11 times for 69 yards.
While this plan is working against teams like Southern Miss, it will be interesting to see if it will work once SEC play rolls around. Bielema certainly believes it will, and he’s got two outstanding backs on the squad.
Tim Letcher is a contributing writer for RantSports.com and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @TimLetcher, on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.