Bielema promises changes coming on special teams

By: Clay Henry
Published: Thursday, September 28, 2017
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema congratulates players after a touchdown during a game against TCU on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema congratulates players after a touchdown during a game against TCU on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Fayetteville.

— Bret Bielema didn't give away the changes, but hinted on his Thursday radio show there might be some new faces on special teams against New Mexico State.

Arkansas shuffled personnel on the kickoff cover unit last week because of injuries and gave up a 100-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter.

“We lost Kevin Richardson before the game,” Bielema said. “Literally, he was on four special teams units. Also, when we lost him, that meant Josh Liddell played the whole game in the secondary. We took him off special teams.”

The changes for this week were not mentioned.

“But we are going to have some freshmen playing this week, added to special teams,” Bielema said. “There will be some new faces.”

Bielema was asked about the addition of running back David Williams, a senior transfer from South Carolina. The recruiting of Williams took place over the summer, some of it during Bielema's vacation to The Bahamas.

“Literally, he called one morning and I was about to get on a boat for a fishing trip,” Bielema said. “We had 50 marlin waiting for us. I got off the boat and stayed behind alone. It was a great decision.”

Bielema said he talked Williams out of a commitment to another school. Williams had a relationship with Bielema dating back to his time as head coach at Wisconsin.

Bielema was asked about staying upbeat during tough times.

“It may sound silly to say it this way, but I absolutely love my job,” he said. “If we were 3-0, I'd be doing the exact same things. I know at 1-2 we haven't played a perfect game yet. We keep coaching them up.

“The thing I get frustrated with is watching our players have to endure things. I know that as a head coach if my demeanor is a certain way, my players will follow me. I know I'm a good football coach and we have to stay focus and follow the process.”

Bielema said he changed the practice schedule this week to go inside Reynolds Razorback Stadium an extra day. Usually, the Hogs work in the stadium on Thursday in home game weeks.

"My last stop at Wisconsin, someone gave me a stat that we were really good in our stadium," he siad. "We practiced every day in the stadium. So I made a decision in the summer that we were going to go in our stadium as much as possible. We had a lot of bounce in our step when we went in there Wednesday."

Bielema said the team had a healthy week of practice. Of note, he said this will be the first game this season with all three of the top running backs 100 percent healthy.

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