What Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said ahead of Week 1 vs. Florida A&M

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — It’s officially game week for the Arkansas Razorbacks.

With their season opener next Thursday against Florida A&M, the Hogs are treating Saturday like a Monday of a regular game week. Florida A&M plays its season opener Saturday against Texas Southern.

Arkansas coach Bret Bielema addressed the media Friday ahead of the game. Here’s the rundown of what he had to say:

  • The team had the day off on Thursday and will go through a light practice on Friday.
  • Arkansas will bring a few extra players to Little Rock for the game Thursday. NCAA rules are not as strict on the number of players who can travel roster for the game, so Bielema wants to bring everyone that can play.
  • Wide receivers T.J. Hammonds (knee) and Jared Cornelius (back) are both being included in the game plan for the opener. Both missed the past few weeks with their injuries.
  • Bielema says the game plan so far is based on what Florida A&M did last year. The team will watch Florida A&M on Saturday and adjust the game plan accordingly.
  • Tight end Grayson Gunter will redshirt this season, his sophomore year. He had shoulder surgery in the offseason and Bielema wants to “split up” some of the guys at that position. He did play some as a true freshman last season.
  • Freshman safety Montaric Brown is “not in the mix” for the first game. Bielema has not yet committed to redshirting him. Josh Liddell, Santos Ramirez and De’Andre Coley will once again be the three primary safeties entering the season.
  • Quarterback Cole Kelley is listed as the backup at punter, which Bielema says is legitimate and he may punt if needed. “He’ll surprise some people when he hits it.”
  • Right now, Bielema is leaning towards playing freshman running back Maleek Williams this season rather than redshirt. He’s projected as the fourth back behind Devwah Whaley, David Williams and Chase Hayden.
  • Bielema says as many as 10 wide receivers could play this year. He lists Cornelius, Hammonds, Deon Stewart, La’Michael Pettway, Jonathan Nance, Brandon Martin, Koilan Jackson, Jarrod Barnes, De’Vion Warren and River Warnock as those players.
  • Bielema say he is “very, very impressed with and blessed to have” former head coaches Dan Enos and Paul Rhoads as his coordinators. He adds Rhoads is hard on his defensive guys, but not in a “demeaning way” and they respond to him well.
  • Bielema on the running backs: Chase Hayden has been the great addition there. They knew what Whaley could do already, and David Williams is comparable to Rawleigh Williams III. So, Hayden brings a different element to the position Bielema loves to have.
  • Outside linebacker Dwayne Eugene had a “great camp” and Bielema is excited about what he can do as a starter this season.
  • Outside linebackers coach Chad Walker will be in the booth since Rhoads will be on the sidelines. Tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr. will remain the primary offensive coach in the booth.

The post What Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said ahead of Week 1 vs. Florida A&M appeared first on SEC Country.

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