HOOVER, Alabama - Bret Bielema’s first season at Arkansas could have gone much better. The Razorbacks went 3-9 and were winless in Southeastern Conference play.
With college football being a win-now-or-die business, many expected sweeping changes from the former Wisconsin head coach. But while Arkansas did make some changes on the defensive staff, Bielema doesn’t plan on changing much for the upcoming season.
“You're going to change little things, absolutely,” Bielema said. “You're going to change personnel, change the way you do things, the way you communicate.”
One of the many changes that have been suggested is that Bielema incorporate a no-huddle offense. Bielema has always had a hardline stance against up-tempo offenses. He continued to stand by the fact that he was not going to completely give up his principles. He realizes that the team just needs to be better.
“I'm not going to a no‑huddle hurry‑up offense,” Bielema said. “We're going to stick to our principles and do it better. As a head coach I need to enforce that daily.”
Bielema is not the only one at Arkansas that recognizes that change, while not major, is needed to get better.
Senior safety Alan Turner spoke on Wednesday about how Arkansas just needs to focus on changing the little things to become a better team.
“There were a few games we could have won at the end but they did not go our way because of a mental breakdown that led to a big play,” Turner said. “Us as players we are trying to embrace those little things and if we do that we know the results will change.”
The Razorbacks open the season against Auburn on August 30 and Turner and senior defensive lineman Trey Flowers are looking forward to changing the results of last season.
“Each and everyday we just have to work hard,” Turner said. “I feel like last year to this year a lot of players have taken great strides and I am excited to see our product on the field.”
“We started working out the Tuesday after the LSU game and a lot of guys were amped up,” Flowers said. “How close we were in some games really pushed us and motivated us to get better.”
Flowers also brought up the fact that last year’s SEC champions Auburn were winless in SEC play two years ago. The Tigers received very little attention from the media at the 2013 SEC Media Days, much like Arkansas in 2014.
Flowers said that a quick turnaround is a motivating factor for him and his teammates.
“To see what Auburn did last year, we are able to use that as a motivating factor,” Flowers said. “If everyone buys into one thing, and believes and trusts in the coaches we can make it happen too.”
Arkansas knows that it has to change things, otherwise another 3-9 record is a possibility. Bielema admits as much. But Bielema also knows that the Razorbacks can just as quickly change the perception about themselves by simply getting better.
“We understand that the only way to change the results of a 3‑9 season is to change what you're doing,” Bielema said. “Year two, although we don't know the record yet, my full heart belief is it's going to be better than year one. That's going to be determined on a weekly basis, but I do know it's going to be better.”