Bret Bielema, coordinators review Florida, preview LSU

By: Jimmy Carter
Published: Monday, November 7, 2016
NWA Democrat-Gazette/J.T. WAMPLER Arkansas football head coach Bret Bielema talks Sunday Dec. 6, 2015 about the Razorbacks' invitation to attend the Liberty Bowl in Memphis playing against Kansas State. The hogs won five of their last six games to become bowl eligible.
( Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gaze / J.T. Wampler)
NWA Democrat-Gazette/J.T. WAMPLER Arkansas football head coach Bret Bielema talks Sunday Dec. 6, 2015 about the Razorbacks' invitation to attend the Liberty Bowl in Memphis playing against Kansas State. The hogs won five of their last six games to become bowl eligible.

— Updates from Bret Bielema, Dan Enos and Robb Smith's Monday press conference.

Bret Bielema

— Got a quicker jump on LSU prep since Florida isn't on the schedule again for years.

— Can tell a difference in attitude and intensity for the Tigers under Ed Orgeron.

— Knows LSU QB Danny Etling.

— This senior class is unique because it includes players recruited by both his staff and Bobby Petrine's.

— Wishes Orgeron the best because he thinks he's good for the conference. Ran into him on the road recruiting last week. Thinks interim coaches make viable head coaching options. Orgeron joked with Bielema that this was the first job he'd been at that he hadn't had an accent.

— Hjalte Froholdt is doing good. Was in a lot of pain initially, but could've come back in and played. Up to the point he got hurt, he had played his most complete game. May not get him today or tomorrow, but they expect him to be back Wednesday.

— Doesn't know if he's had a senior class 1-15, maybe even 20, that have played as much as this senior class of 22 is going to be.

— Thought Florida was the first time both running backs were effective during a quality defense. Did a lot running, receiving and in pass pro. If you rely on one guy, he'll never stay fresh.

— Kendrick Jackson was recognized after the game after taking his game to another level.

— Before the year, Kody Walker gave a talk to the team about having been through seven surgeries, which made everyone go 'Whoa.' He's had two since, but he's a positive person. His Twitter is a daily source of positivity.

— Referencing LSU coming off Alabama, he thinks scheduling can influence results a week later.

— As a coach, he doesn't want to put a player in a position to fail. You can set players back months, if not years, in his development if you do. Randy Ramsey was coming on, so Bielema told him to stick with it at DE two weeks before the bye and they'd re-evaluate. He did a nice job at SAM in the bye week. Liked Ledbetter inside, but thought he could be more effective at DE. Agim made a play to split two blockers Saturday and stop a run for no gain that is the embodiment of why he was in the game. Thought Deatrich Wise would be best served in the new role while he's still a bit banged up.

— The pick 6 was a different call, alignment, everything, than anything they'd used all year.

— Kurt Anderson is a grinder. A lot of times, his light will be on when Bielema leaves and on in the morning when he arrives. Has an NFL mindset. Loves coffee and smelling salts. The players don't have to love you, but they have to respect you. Anderson has demonstrated that to Bielema big time.

— Thought there was a certain number of defensive players who weren't too upset at the fourth-down pass interference because it meant they got to play a few more snaps.

— Louisiana has been his biggest surprise in recruiting since arriving. Hadn't ever recruited there. Michael Smith was a natural fit as a WR coach and someone who can take charge of Louisiana recruiting. The players they've gotten and results they've produced from there have been off the charts. No academic or social issues, either. Briston Guidry, the scout-team MVP last week, has redefined his body and bought into academics after not necessarily being that way in high school.

— Bielema goes after and picks on Sosa Agim as much as anybody because he enjoys their rapport. He's got a personality. He was incredibly talented coming in, but needed to learn to be coached and hushed his lips. The rip through play he made Saturday for the no gain was big, because that had been his biggest issue. Has a lot in common with Darius Philon. Because he's highly recruited, guys like to have fun with him. Gone through some initiation.

— Johnny Gibson has had a bit of a roller-coster ride since coming. Got on campus and stuff got bumpy. Has had to persevere through some tragedies, a few friends who've been shot. Went through struggles in the weight room, so they threw him out of the workout routine for a while. He came back hard. Players do ask for playing time a lot, especially those who haven't been playing, but there was a need at the position. Kurt Anderson felt strongly that it was a Johnny Gibson game. They'd been flirting with the idea of Jaylen Merrick or Paul Ramirez.

Dan Enos

— The Johnny Gibson decision was mostly Kurt Anderson's call. He'd been mentioning Gibson was coming along for a few weeks. Enos said he didn't know. Anderson said he'd excelled in individual drills and come into meetings asking questions, so Enos agreed to watch him in practice. By Tuesday, he was on board with the room. Highly impressed by Gibson being able to move to left guard mid-game after not practicing there for a week. Anderson deserves a lot of credit.

— Impressed by Jake Raulerson being able to step in after being benched. Had a good week of practice and thought he had his most physical game.

— The screen game was the staff trying to take Florida's strength and counteract that. A couple of the screens were blocked well, some were great individual efforts.

— Devwah Whaley's progression helps a lot. He's more comfortable playing on third down with protections. They have to continue to get T.J. Hammonds involved because he brings a different running style and can be an explosive play waiting to happen. Florida had the play bottled up well, but his athleticism and vision made a big play happen. Having a rotation makes it easier as a play caller.

— You know what you're going to get from Drew Morgan and Jeremy Sprinkle every day in practice, from effort to accountability. They're both always capable of performing in big moments.

— The offense's seniors have been the ones who set the tone since he's been at Arkansas. They bring it every day in practice. Bielema alludes to the fact that the younger players haven't had to go through what the older guys do, so the older guys need to set the example and bring the younger players along. The bye was a critical point after the Auburn loss, because, rather than splinter, the team bonded. A lot of that had to do with the seniors' refusal to let the season get away from them. That helped them go out and be the more aggressive, physical team.

— Florida was by far Rawleigh Williams' best game. He was physical and broke tackles, made some plays happen despite there being poor blocking.

— LSU's defense is outstanding. Here we go again, it's like he's a broken record coming in on Mondays. Most of these defenses all look the same. Jokes that it almost gets depressing on Sundays when he turns the tape of the next team on.

— Second series of the game, they were moving the ball and getting good runs. Gibson wasn't turning guys loose and doing a solid job.

— Getting an early lead was a big key to the game. The formula was good after that. The defense played outstanding and kept giving the offense opportunities. Controlling the football for 40 minutes and running the ball was big.

— The most impressive part of Gibson's performance was how he played at left guard. He was physical and assignment-sound. He was very passionate. Got on the second level to linebackers. The two penalties are correctable. It was his first game, so he probably had an unbelievable adrenaline rush. They can build on it. He's 340 pounds and powerful. When he gets on people, there's movement, which creates running lanes.

— Gibson knocked a defender on his back on the first play and then came back into the huddle and told Austin Allen about it.

— Allen wasn't thrilled with how he played. Left some throws out there and started slow, but made critical plays at crucial times, like the drive before halftime and the big screen to Whaley when he got hit. It's a good sign when you can win with your quarterback not playing well. There are some fundamental fixes that'll be made.

— Need to eliminate penalties and play clean. Didn't have them early in the season. Two penalties were illegal blocks way away from the play. Two were holding calls, which are hard because linemen are playing hard and guys are moving. The illegal procedure and illegal blocks have to be eliminated.

— Allen missing a week of practice could be why he wasn't as sharp. He had a pretty significant knee injury for a normal person. Doesn't think he was 100 percent. He says he feels good and he should be working back to 100 percent every day now. Sometimes being in a rhythm and then having a week off causes you to lose it a little.

— They'll be in full pads Tuesday and Wednesday.

Robb Smith

— Thought the preparation had been there and the positive results allowed the confidence to grow.

— Thought Agim and Ledbetter showed up and played well. Rory Segrest had a great plan to use them inside and outside. Did a great job using their hands.

— Really happy for Randy Ramsey. He's been a guy they've used at times to plug holes. Florida ran enough stuff to allow Arkansas to use a lot of its base defense.

— Florida coming out in a 12 personnel on the first play allowed Arkansas to do different stuff matchup-wise.

— Agim is learning how to prepare like a college football player, which is how he builds a rapport with older players. He's taken note of how guys like Ledbetter and Taiwan Johnson prepare.

— LSU has two excellent running backs. They have to be gap sound and then tackle really well.

— LSU takes a lot of play-action shots on first and second down. Jared Collins, Henre' Toliver and Ryan Pulley have to play with great eye discipline. Whoever the deep safety is has to help.

— Florida was a shot team, too, which led to how they covered Antonio Calloway. Josh Liddell had great awareness on his interception. Those same things will carry over this week.

— Kickoff coverage has come on the last few games. Paul Rhoads preaches that it's the first play of defensive drives.

— Duwop Mitchell's position is above his pay grade.

— Ryan Pulley has transformed his practice habits. He's becoming consistent. Now, it's about doing the little extra to make the play when you put yourself in position.

— The seniors are a lot of fun to be around. They love to play the game and are fun guys. Excellent young men. They're starting to express themselves as leaders. Senior day is always a tough day from that standpoint. Excited about the last several games even beyond this weekend.

— There's no turnaround from Auburn to Florida without great senior leadership.

— Deatrich Wise really embraced his role playing inside. Still not 100 percent, but they got 100 percent out of him when he played.

— Dwayne Eugene played a solid football Saturday. Eugene would probably say a lot of that had to do with Brooks Ellis. He helps everyone get lined up.


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