Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll.
Bielema limiting access
Fans get one chance to see Hogs in spring
Arkansas defensive tackle Robert Thomas (98) runs a drill during a 2011 spring practice in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas fans eager to see how the Razorbacks football team will shape up this spring will have to wait until the Red-White game April 20 to get a look.
Coach Bret Bielema announced his spring practice policies Wednesday, and self-evaluation and focus are clearly uppermost in his mind. The Razorbacks open spring drills Sunday and have three workouts before the university’s spring break. Each of the first three workouts, which include practices next Tuesday and Thursday, will be closed to members of the media and the public.
“Evaluation of our student-athletes during this period will be crucial,” Bielema said in a news release announcing the spring practice policies. “We will utilize this period to focus one step at a time on preparing for the fall.
“The support from our fan base has been overwhelming, and we are looking forward to working throughout the spring to showcase our efforts to the fans on April 20.”
Practices will be open to members of the media March 30, April 6 and April 13, in addition to the spring game. Media interviews will commence with players and coaches when the Razorbacks begin their second week of workouts starting March 26.
“I definitely want the media to see our growth, and I think that’s a positive thing,” Bielema told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Feb. 25.“On the same account, I don’t want every rep to be under scrutiny.”
The Razorbacks return five starters, plus fullback Kiero Small, who is returning from a broken foot, on offense. Nine starters return on defense from a team that was ranked No. 10 in the preseason but finished 4-8 last season. Arkansas, which must replace quarterback Tyler Wilson, top receiver Cobi Hamilton and top tailbacks Dennis Johnson and Knile Davis, is not likely to project among the contenders in the SEC.
Sports, Pages 15 on 03/07/2013