Arkansas Football: Rutgers Will Find Out About “Bielema Ball” Saturday
There will be no cuteness displayed on offense when Arkansas takes their act on the road to Jersey this week. No son, just your normal hat on a hat 1950s offensive football, trying to make their living against a Rutgers defense ranked fifth nationally, allowing 59 yards a game.
There’s no cute name either to go along with the offensive concept Bret Bielema has already brought in his first year at Arkansas. Arkansas Basketball in the 1990s under Nolan Richardson was given the name “Forty Minutes of Hell” after its exhausting full-court pressure defense brought the Hogs to three Final Fours in his 17 seasons in Fayetteville. Don’t waste your time picking a name for this 2013 Arkansas offense; just call it “Bielema Ball”.
Arkansas as a punishing, physical running team on offense hit the first year curve better than expected, and the chips that made Bielema successful at Wisconsin have shown to be in place.
Bielema’s only year with two 1,000 backs in a season in his seven years at Wisconsin came in 2010, with John Clay and James White. This might come sooner at Arkansas, especially this season with Buddha and the Beast. Freshman Alex “Buddha” Collins and sophomore Jonathan “Beast” Williams have each gone over the 100-yard barrier for the third straight week. Collins became the first freshman from the SEC to rush for over 100 yards in his first three games. The last time a freshman accomplished the feat was back in 2004 by former Oklahoma, current Minnesota Vikings, running back Adrian Peterson. Collins is fourth in the country with 418 rushing yards, and surprisingly enough, Rutgers sophomore running back Paul James leads the nation with 493 rushing yards. Williams is ranked seventh with 393 yards so far in his sophomore campaign.
Collins and Williams complement each other perfectly. Collins gives Arkansas speed to go along with Williams’ cutback ability and power. Williams has had a 45-plus run in each of the team’s first three games. Collins needs three more 100 yard games to break Darren McFadden’s record of five 100 yard games in 2007.
Arkansas’ commitment to their identity didn’t waver last week even with starting quarterback Brandon Allen leaving the game after landing awkwardly on his right throwing shoulder and never returning after two series and Southern Miss throwing in run blitzes the rest of the way. Arkansas ran the ball 56 total times against Southern Miss, sprinkling in only 11 passes. Arkansas kept it on the ground 22 of their 24 final plays, and they bring the nation’s No. 11 rushing offense, 294 yards per game into this weekend.
Allen is nursing an injury on his throwing shoulder and he is expected to miss this weekend. With that, Rutgers is definitely wanting to crowd the line. Rutgers and Southern Miss are spitting images of one another because they both are run-stop first. In a hostile environment and the Hogs’ first true road test, it’s great to have the same offensive line that have started the first three games. Arkansas has the nation’s top center, Travis Swanson, with starting guards, Mitch Smothers and Brey Cook and a combination of David Hurd and Grady Ollison at both tackles.
Fullback Kiero Small is an extra offensive lineman for Jim Chaney in the backfield and a weapon in short yardage situations with a total of 18 carries for 53 yards already. Arkansas will unleash multiple tight ends to set the table for Williams and Collins. Arkansas’ best blocking tight end, senior Austin Tate, returns from a shoulder injury and is just another source for Allen or A.J Derby at quarterback.
If Rutgers wants to win the game, they better have a lead in the final quarter. Arkansas will chew up remaining clock with a program now that’s built on toughness and team strength. Arkansas was down 21-17 in approaching the fourth quarter with Samford, but they didn’t throw a pass, going over 163 yards and two touchdowns to win the game on the ground. The last three games, Arkansas has held the ball for almost 36 minutes out of a possible 45. Through the first three games of the season, Arkansas has outscored its opponents 21-0 in the fourth quarter. The Razorbacks have outgained the opposition 292-76 in the fourth quarter of games this season.