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.
Then, on 20th day, Hogs rest
Deatrich Wise Jr., from left, Brooks Ellis and Daunte Carr, all with the University of Arkansas football team, laugh Friday, Aug. 22, 2014 while the teammates introduce each other at the 2014 Arkansas Football Kickoff Luncheon at the Northwest Arkansas Convention Center in Springdale.
SPRINGDALE -- Arkansas' football team will not practice today, earning its first day off since fall camp started Aug. 4.
Coach Bret Bielema said it came down to how the Razorbacks performed in Friday evening's mock game, closed to the media and the public, which consisted of the team's game-day procedures with the players in the road jerseys they'll be wearing next Saturday at Auburn, including in-game protocol like signaling in plays with some of the coaches in the press box and some on the sidelines.
"If they give me what I think they're going to give me this afternoon, they've earned a day off," Bielema said at Arkansas' football kickoff luncheon earlier in the day.
The university media relations staff indicated Friday evening the players executed well enough in the mock game to earn today off.
Friday's mock scrimmage included a 40-yard touchdown pass from Brandon Allen to Keon Hatcher, strong kickoffs and punts from Sam Irwin-Hill and a 56-yard field goal from John Henson, according to the university media relations staff.
Speaking of Jen ...
Bret Bielema apologized for his wife Jen, who did not attend the team's annual kickoff luncheon.
"She's exhausted," Bielema said. "ESPN has been following her around for two days. It wasn't because we were 3-9, I guarantee you that. I think she's pretty good on camera."
Bielema also mentioned that a couple of his players heard that his wife was going to take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
"I'm not going to name any names ... but they tried to skip practice to watch it. ... AJ Derby mainly. But ... Jonathan Williams mainly."
Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long's praise of Bret Bielema while introducing the second-year coach equated to a backhand shot at former Coach Bobby Petrino.
"You know what Bret? You've made ... I'm going to get choked up. ... You've made being around the football program fun again," Long said. "So thank you for that."
Bret Bielema made a point on his radio show Thursday and reiterated it Friday at the luncheon.
"Defensively, I think you're going to find a defense that's a lot more aggressive," Bielema said. "I don't mean aggressive by the number of blitzes that are called or anything like that. I'm talking about the way they play."
Bielema said during On the Air with Bret Bielema that the Hogs' cornerbacks would benefit from playing closer to the line of scrimmage and challenging receivers more.
Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema told the audience Friday that he and his wife, Jen, received an invitation to have dinner at the home of UA Chancellor Dave Gearhart on the night after his introductory news conference Dec. 5, 2012.
"At my previous place, we had won a lot of games, won three championships, I ain't never been to the president's house," said Bielema, who spent seven seasons at Wisconsin. "We hadn't won a game [at Arkansas] and I got invited, so I knew I was in good company."
Tight end Jeremy Sprinkle, at the podium during Friday's luncheon, said fellow tight end Hunter Henry told him that if football didn't work out that Henry wanted to be the cover boy for Head & Shoulders shampoo.
"I don't remember that conversation," Henry said.
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Some of the Razorbacks took playful shots at teammates as they introduced each other in numerical order during the opening part of the kickoff luncheon.
Kicker John Henson introduced freshman linebacker Khalia Hackett like this: "In his free time he likes to go to Crystal Bridges and write poetry."
Tight end Alex Voelzke, speaking in a very hoarse voice, described linebacker Martrell Spaight as a guy who looks like a body builder. Spaight took the microphone and, imitating Voelzke's rasp, said: "Thank you, Voelzke."
Spaight introduced defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr. as a "sack master," and Wise promptly walked up and unintentionally "sacked" the microphone, knocking it out of its holder.
Freshman offensive lineman Frank Ragnow said senior line mate Brey Cook "looked like a little 12-year old" with a beard. Cook strolled up and said: "Thank you, freshman."
Bret Bielema said he appreciated how fellow Arkansas coaches and staff members helped host in-state recruits during the Razorbacks' scrimmage last Saturday at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
Men's basketball coach Mike Anderson, women's basketball coach Jimmy Dykes and former Razorback Marvin Caston of the Razorback Foundation all spent time entertaining the high-profile recruits and their families in a suite at the stadium.
"I saw that group of players after the scrimmage and the mom and dad are just smiling from ear to ear, because they know it's not just a football thing, it's an Arkansas thing here," Bielema said. "It means the world to me to be a part of an athletic department that that's around you on a daily basis. It can't get any better."
Offensive lineman Luke Charpentier said he received numerous birthday greetings Friday, even though his birthday is Feb. 20, because of a teammate's shenanigans.
"Daniel Boone Skipper, he decided to hack my Facebook," Charpentier said.
Sports on 08/23/2014