Nate Allen is a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Allen is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has authored three books about the Razorbacks.
Bielema hopes Hogs are turning a corner
NWA Media/MICHAEL WOODS --04/20/2013-- University of Arkansas cornerback Carroll Washington (21) and Tevin Mitchel (8) during Saturdays Red White scrimmage at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE - New Arkansas Razorbacks defensive coordinator Robb Smith presumes he will get better acquainted with his new players while they are away all next week on spring break.
“I am not going to Aruba or anything like that,” Smith said after Thursday’s practice in pads wrapped spring drills until April 1. “I’ll sit in here and go back through the tape and get to know them that much better so we can kind of get a jump on things when we get back.”
Apparently second-year Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema can tell his new coordinator and his new secondary coach, Clay Jennings, that the cornerbacks have practiced better these three days than they played during last year’s 3-9 season.
“If you ask me probably two or three of the biggest surprises of the spring would probably be Tevin Mitchel, Carroll Washington and Jared Collins,” Bielema said Friday.“Those guys have been pretty stout for these first three practices.”
Mitchel is a three-year senior letterman, Washington is a letterman senior second-year junior college transfer, and Collins is a third-year sophomore who also lettered last season.
Bielema said sophomore letterman D.J. Dean and junior two-year letterman Will Hines also have taken to the increase in press coverage that Smith’s defense incorporates.
“They’ve been the highlight for me so far,” Bielema said. “I really think Tevin Mitchel has taken a huge, huge liking to what’s going on. He’s a strong kid. I think it allows him to play with some confidence with someone playing right over the top of him. He’s really flying around.”
Bielema implied that Collins, 6-0, 171 pounds, would take a back seat only because he needs to expand the seat of his pants.
“If we get a pound or two on each one of his butt cheeks he’d be a lot better,” Bielema said. “He’s really responded in the right way. D.J. Dean is doing everything we ask him to do on and off the field. He’ll be a guy who continues to rise.”
“Will’s been good,” Bielema said. “I shouldn’t forget him. Those five guys at corner have been fairly decent.”
When Arkansas’ basketball team lost 85-77 to the California Golden Bears in the Maui Classic last Nov. 25 in Hawaii, Arkansas freshman Moses Kingsley never budged off the bench.
Given Kingsley’s ongoing improvement that started the very next game in Maui in a victory over Minnesota, and that Cal dominated the boards 48-32, it doesn’t take a prophet to predict Moses will be involved in Arkansas’ second-round NIT game against Cal on Monday night in Berkeley, Calif.
“I think Moses is going to give us that physical toughness in there and a guy that can protect the rim,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said Friday. “Moses won’t back down from anybody. We have got to have some warriors that will go in there and throw their body and rebound the basketball and do all the little things.”
Sports, Pages 20 on 03/22/2014