Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy, Biletnikoff Award and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt was awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year in 2000 and 2015.
Alex, you got to eat Wheaties
Arkansas tight end Austin Tate works out during a 2012 practice in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema is hoping Alex Collins will cause headaches for opponents this season, but earlier in fall camp the Razorbacks’ freshman tailback was the one in pain.
When Bielema heard about the headaches, he called Collins’ family in Florida to seek a remedy.
“They said, ‘Well, if he’s having headaches, it’s usually because he’s not eating,’ ” Beliema said. “Lo and behold, he skipped two days of breakfast.”
Collins isn’t skipping breakfast anymore.
“Now we have someone that sits down and watches him eat breakfast,” Bielema said. “He just hasn’t had to do that before. He’s always been so much more blessed than everybody else and that much more physical.
“And I said, ‘Now everybody’s good, buddy.’ ”
Collins said he now understands he has to make an adjustment in his eating habits.
“It’s a big difference,” he said. “Back in high school, you kind of eat when you want. If you weren’t hungry, you would miss breakfast, lunch and then eat a full course meal for dinner.
“Here, I’ve learned that you’ve got to kind of schedule everything out.
You can’t miss a meal or it will affect you. I’ve been eating breakfast now because I don’t want it to hurt me later on during the day.”
Bielema said football isn’t that complicated.
“If you just take care of yourself and put the proper fuel in, usually you get good results,” he said. “I think he has got to understand the bigger picture. What you did in high school isn’t going to work in college. You’ve got to make a change in order to change the level you’re playing at.”Lake jump
When defensive coordinator Chris Ash was asked to identify the player who has been making the most plays in camp, he pointed to weakside linebacker Jarrett Lake.
“He’s probably been the most consistent, biggest playmaker that we’ve had through the course of camp so far,” Ash said. “The D-line guys have been steady. Chris Smith and Trey Flowers have been good players, but Jarrett Lake has been a guy that’s really stood out.”Edge block
Arkansas receiver Jarius Wright had a mean streak when it came to downfield blocking, evidenced by his finishing blocks for memorable touchdowns by Greg Childs at Florida in 2009 and Cobi Hamilton against LSU in 2010.
With the generation of home-grown receivers now complete with Hamilton’s exodus, who could emerge as the team’s best blocking receiver?
“I don’t want to single anyone out, but I’d say Javontee Herndon, if I had to say,” sophomore D’Arthur Cowan said. “He’s a great blocker.”
Cowan’s review of his own blocking skills: “Pretty good. I can get in there and get nasty if I have to.”Fall in summer The Razorbacks have been practicing for several days with temperatures in the 70s or 80s, unseasonably cool for this time of year.
“It’s been feeling good,” said sophomore tailback Jonathan Williams, who is from Allen, Texas. “Not too hot. Not like last year.
It’s not as hot as Texas or anything like that.”
Senior tight end Austin Tate said the players have welcomed the break from the usual August heat and humidity.
“This camp really has been kind of weird,” Tate said. “The first couple days were pretty warm, but since then it’s either been cloudy or raining or cool. I guess we lucked out.”
Williams laughed when asked if he hopes it heats up so the Razorbacks will be ready in case the temperature rises for their Aug. 31 opener against Louisiana-Lafayette.
“Nah,” Williams said. “I’m pretty good with the way the weather is right now.”.
Tate hurts shoulder
Arkansas began camp with strong depth at tight end, but the Razorbacks’ numbers have taken a blow with senior Austin Tate apparently suffering a shoulder injury.
Former Arkansas assistant coach Tim Horton, who recruited Tate out of Harrison High School for the Razorbacks and is now an assistant at Auburn, sent out a post on his Twitter account supportive of Tate on Friday evening indicating that Tate had already undergone surgery. Horton wrote: “Thoughts and prayers are with @atater87 [Tate] and family who is on the road to recovery from shoulder surgery. 1st class young man!!”
Arkansas practices have been closed all camp, with the exception of last Saturday’s scrimmage, and the school had not confirmed the injury as of Friday evening.
Redshirt freshman Jeremy Sprinkle, asked about the impact of Tate’s injury,said it was a big blow.
“It’s a tough loss for us,” Sprinkle said. “We just feel bad, and we’ve just got to move forward.”
The Razorbacks had figured to play at least five tight ends. Now the list of top contributors at tight end are sophomores Mitchell Loewen and Alex Voelzke, Sprinkle and true freshman Hunter Henry.
Earlier in the week, offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said the group probably had more depth than any other position on the offense.
“There’s a lot of competitive spirit going on down there,” Chaney said. “Each is trying to find his little niche, what they can do to help us win football games. They’ve got wonderful attitudes. They’re good young men. They’re not selfish, and they’re fun to work with.”
Senior Brad Taylor and sophomore Demetrius Dean also are working at tight end.
Ready to go
Center Travis Swanson said it felt odd to miss last last Saturday’s scrimmage, when he rested because of a strained groin. He returned to practice this week.
“It feels completely fine,” Swanson said. “It was more of a precautionary thing sitting out the scrimmage.
We wanted to be more safe than sorry.”Tight competition
Cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson said it’s too close to call whether redshirt Jared Collins or freshman Will Hines will start at right cornerback opposite Tevin Mitchel on the left side.
Hines started the final nine games last season, but Collins was the starter after spring practice. Both are getting first-team reps.
“It’s very tight,” Johnson said. “Both of those guys are doing a good job. Both are right there.”
Hines said it’s a fun competition.
“It really hasn’t affected our friendship, it’s just made us work harder and brings the best play out of both of us,” Hines said. “So it’s really good for the team.”
Sports, Pages 26 on 08/17/2013