VegasInsider.com
VI Mobile Scores and Betting OddsVI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds Be Social
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Golf
Auto
Horses
Soccer
Fantasy Sports
More
Betting Tools

 
Arkansas set for first spring under Bielema

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) - Travis Swanson didn't even have a head coach this time a year ago.

Advertisement
Like the rest of his teammates, the Arkansas center was caught up in the turmoil following former coach Bobby Petrino's firing as he approached the spring game.

The fallout from the Petrino debacle - and subsequent hiring of John L. Smith as interim coach - resulted in a disastrous 2012 season for the Razorbacks. It also resulted in the hiring of former Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema in December.

Bielema has spent the last month directing his first set of spring practices at his new school, learning the Arkansas players and laying a foundation to improve on last year's 4-8 record. Swanson said the 14 practices have been nothing short of ``picture-perfect,'' a theme he hopes continues in Saturday's Red-White game in front of what Bielema hopes is a record crowd of more than 50,000.

Regardless of how the game turns out, or who performs well, it will cap what's been a refreshingly calm spring for the Razorbacks. Swanson, an unquestioned leader who is mindful of the fact that he's approaching his final season, carries a particular thought into every day.

``This is it,'' the senior said. ``This is my last first day of my last week of spring ball. This will be my last spring game. This is my last summer I have. So, if it's not now, then it's not (ever).''

The transition from Petrino's style to Smith and now Bielema hasn't been without its hiccups.

Bielema and new offensive coordinator Jim Chaney took a slow-but-steady approach to the installation of the offense this spring. They did so while also focusing their efforts on finding a starting quarterback to replace former All-Southeastern Conference performer Tyler Wilson, with sophomore Brandon Allen and senior Brandon Mitchell emerging as the front-runners.

Mitchell, with four years of experience in Petrino's scheme, struggled early with the change in play calls before finding a comfort zone in recent weeks.

He's also well aware of how important Saturday could prove in determining the starter, especially since Allen has seen the majority of the time with the first team in recent weeks - and because defensive coordinator Chris Ash said players on top of the depth chart now are likely to begin there in the fall.

``We want to see how they handle that situation because it's one thing to go out here in an empty stadium, go indoors and practice,'' Ash said. ``It's a whole other when you've got to go out there in front of people and have eyes on you.''

Arkansas' offensive linemen might have had the most difficult transition. The group, which struggled in run- and pass-blocking last season, began that change before practice even began - undergoing drastic body changes under new strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert and at Bielema's behest.

They've also been introduced to immediate accountability throughout the spring, being pulled from scrimmages and sent to do up-and-downs after any false start penalty. It's all just part of Bielema's method as he looks to implement a more balanced - and physical - approach than what the Razorbacks were used to under Petrino.

``You can't really compare the two because they're so different in schemes,'' Swanson said. ``The goal is not throw, throw, throw, throw. It's run, run, run, throw it, play-action. It's just more balanced.''

Bielema, who had a dominant running game with the Badgers, plans to play the top players on both the offensive and defensive depth charts against each other for the first half on Saturday. It's similar to the approach he's taken for much of the spring, driven by the belief that competition leads to improvement.

``I want those guys to get used to the center-quarterback exchange, a guard and tackle playing with one another,'' Bielema said. ``You can only get better by playing with one another, and that's a big part of it.''

The former Wisconsin coach joked last week about wanting to test the manhood of his new players this spring. It's a test they've taken during each of the 14 practices, with one final exam on Saturday.

``It's something he has done,'' guard Brey Cook said. ``You can tell. The type of plays we run and our mentality going into practice is completely different, and coming out of practice is different. It's just the way we approach things now.''

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

  
HEADLINES
News: Conference Championship Odds
News: 2017 Heisman Betting Odds
Harbaugh gives the pope a helmet
Ex-Spartan returned to Michigan jail
Virginia QB Benkert healthy again
Teams likely to slip back in 2017
Baylor's Rhule back to Philly for draft
Michigan paints Italy blue in event
Illinois lost $6.2 million in 2016
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
NCAAFB College Football Handicapper Sports Picks Records
VegasInsider.com Gold Membership
2016 CFB SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Scott Rickenbach + 2051
Joe Williams + 1909
Pat Hawkins + 1752
Last Week's Leaders
Handicapper Money
Greg Smith + 400
Joe Nelson + 385
Scott Rickenbach + 380
Percentage Leaders
Handicapper Pct
Scott Pritchard 60 %
Scott Rickenbach 59 %
Kyle Hunter 57 %
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Micah Roberts + 1239
Scott Rickenbach + 1082
Kyle Hunter + 1023
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Micah Roberts + 2485
Kyle Hunter + 2166
NeiltheGreek + 2076
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Vince Akins + 805
Scott Rickenbach + 657
Pat Hawkins + 595
MORE PICK RECORDS
  
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Gold Membership