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Bret Bielema Gives First Arkansas Football Spring Practice Update

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With the media and public unable to watch any of the first week of spring practice, any tidbits from Bielema should be devoured. He held his first press conference since practice started on Friday and here are some highlights.

Walt Beazley/ArkansasRazorbacks.com

I thought the best way to handle this would be to take Bielema's quotes via twitter from the folks actually at the press conference and provide any commentary we see fit.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Bret Bielema: Couldn't' be more excited (about start to spring) His excitement "Multiplied by 1,000 since" intro P.C. on Dec. 5</p>&mdash; Thomas Murphy (@TomMurphyADG) <a href="https://twitter.com/TomMurphyADG/status/312595857902026753">March 15, 2013</a></blockquote>

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Yay! Hopefully it will be up to 10,000 by the spring game.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Bielema on yesterday's practice: Got a little bit sloppy in the details but the effort and enthusiasm was unwavering.</p>&mdash; Bo Mattingly (@SportsTalkwBo) <a href="https://twitter.com/SportsTalkwBo/status/312595896137297920">March 15, 2013</a></blockquote>

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Better than "enthusiastically sloppy"

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Bielema says Brandon Allen and Brandon Mitchell have been "ahead of the curve" at QB. Says AJ Derby has shown ability to manage the game</p>&mdash; Bo Mattingly (@SportsTalkwBo) <a href="https://twitter.com/SportsTalkwBo/status/312596281598017536">March 15, 2013</a></blockquote>

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Good to hear. The quarterback battle is obviously spring's biggest storyline, and coaches don't usually commit to one or the other until they have to. He probably won't give any public acknowledgements to one or the other being better or being the starter until fall. But it's good to hear he's happy with both.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Bielema says Demetrius Dean will get a chance behind Kiero Small at fullback.</p>&mdash; Bo Mattingly (@SportsTalkwBo) <a href="https://twitter.com/SportsTalkwBo/status/312596428964900864">March 15, 2013</a></blockquote>

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Probably for the best. I'm interested to see what happens with Dean. Was offered as a sophomore by the previous staff then kinda ballooned according to various reports and didn't make it to campus immediately. He had to come a year later and received good reports last spring, so I'm hoping they can find a way for him to contribute.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Bielema: Jonathan Williams has been very impressive... Nate Holmes is one of the more explosive players I've been around.</p>&mdash; Bo Mattingly (@SportsTalkwBo) <a href="https://twitter.com/SportsTalkwBo/status/312596552776560641">March 15, 2013</a></blockquote>

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We all know Williams is probably the most bankable offensive skill player coming back. Good to hear Bielema getting excited about Nate Holmes. Of course, all Razorback fans will be waiting to see how Alex Collins fits into the running back plan come August.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Bielema on RB Jonathan Williams: Has been very impressive. Changed Kody Walker's jersey 40 to 24; Kiero Small has been outstanding</p>&mdash; Thomas Murphy (@TomMurphyADG) <a href="https://twitter.com/TomMurphyADG/status/312596714064330753">March 15, 2013</a></blockquote>

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For all the jersey watchers out there. Also good to hear Kiero Small is coming back strong.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Bret Bielema, an old linebackers coach, said linebackers have most room for improvement after three days of practice.</p>&mdash; Matt Jones (@NWAMatt) <a href="https://twitter.com/NWAMatt/status/312597703727149057">March 15, 2013</a></blockquote>

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Seems like we hear this every year, but hopefully this will be the last time we hear this for a while. With Otha Peters and AJ Turner coming back, at least Arkansas has a couple of guys to be excited about in these spots. Hopefully the two JUCO linebackers they signed will be up to speed come September.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Bielema: The only thing that's made me mad (about Arkansas) is that I got a parking ticket the other day.</p>&mdash; Bo Mattingly (@SportsTalkwBo) <a href="https://twitter.com/SportsTalkwBo/status/312597955020484608">March 15, 2013</a></blockquote>

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Dammit. Parking in Fayetteville is so stupid.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Bielema: I watched a little bit of film just to watch SEC play... I watched a lot of SEC vs SEC that didn't involve us.</p>&mdash; Bo Mattingly (@SportsTalkwBo) <a href="https://twitter.com/SportsTalkwBo/status/312598143466352640">March 15, 2013</a></blockquote>

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Added, "Watched all the teams on Arkansas' schedule this year except Auburn because they weren't worth a damn last year. Y'all think Arkansas quit, should have seen those guys on The Plains. Oh and Les Miles, what a loon."

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Bielema: If (Travis) Swanson isn't the best center in CFB … (and he's been around good ones) .. he's going to be right there with them</p>&mdash; Thomas Murphy (@TomMurphyADG) <a href="https://twitter.com/TomMurphyADG/status/312598696271429632">March 15, 2013</a></blockquote>

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We're all about some Travis Swanson. "Keith, Travis Swanson has absolutely put this team on his back!" "I know, Chuck."

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Bielema: "Myke Tavarres is by far our most athletic linebacker." Says Randy Shannon has spent a lot of time teaching Tavarres fundamentals.</p>&mdash; Bo Mattingly (@SportsTalkwBo) <a href="https://twitter.com/SportsTalkwBo/status/312599235344351234">March 15, 2013</a></blockquote>

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Fundamentals. Got to know those fundamentals. Like tackling. We're big on practicing tackling.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Bielema says he got rid of junior day in favor of smaller groups of recruits. "I believe in the personal touch in recruiting."</p>&mdash; Bo Mattingly (@SportsTalkwBo) <a href="https://twitter.com/SportsTalkwBo/status/312599561023672320">March 15, 2013</a></blockquote>

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Do what you gotta do coach, just get them to commit.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Bielema: You can't tap somebody on the head and make them go play physical. We have to teach them what that means.</p>&mdash; Matt Jones (@NWAMatt) <a href="https://twitter.com/NWAMatt/status/312599867459502081">March 15, 2013</a></blockquote>

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I'd say it depends how hard you touch them on the head. If they're wearing helmets, you can touch them pretty hard.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Bielema: @<a href="https://twitter.com/jonesbyran">jonesbyran</a> and @<a href="https://twitter.com/42arkansas">42arkansas</a> (Smith) are showing leadership). Jones has come into office multiple occasions with thoughts and ideas.</p>&mdash; Thomas Murphy (@TomMurphyADG) <a href="https://twitter.com/TomMurphyADG/status/312600272205660161">March 15, 2013</a></blockquote>

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I like the thoughts and ideas. Shows ownership. Shows innovation. For it.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Bielema on installing offense: As we move on, we'll put some nuances in... Slow it down and make it great. Don't hurry and make it average.</p>&mdash; Bo Mattingly (@SportsTalkwBo) <a href="https://twitter.com/SportsTalkwBo/status/312600388769554432">March 15, 2013</a></blockquote>

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They seem to still be in the fundamentals stage than the installing scheme stage. That's fine.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Bielema: Everything I've seen from (incoming freshman) Books Ellis indicate he might be able to help us at linebacker.</p>&mdash; Bo Mattingly (@SportsTalkwBo) <a href="https://twitter.com/SportsTalkwBo/status/312600655804116992">March 15, 2013</a></blockquote>

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Ellis might help at linebacker because Arkansas really has so few on the roster. Remember, just a year ago they tried to transfer a defensive end and a fullback, good ones, to the linebacker position? And that was before Alonzo Highsmith was injured for the year.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Bielema plans on having a 25-35 play practice and a 40-60 play scrimmage with officials on Saturdays.</p>&mdash; Bo Mattingly (@SportsTalkwBo) <a href="https://twitter.com/SportsTalkwBo/status/312601276540149760">March 15, 2013</a></blockquote>

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That seems so incredibly short compared to the last few years. It's hard to remember that's normal.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Bielema says players that commit presnap penalties in practice have to sit out a play and have "physical repercussions."</p>&mdash; Bo Mattingly (@SportsTalkwBo) <a href="https://twitter.com/SportsTalkwBo/status/312601436926124032">March 15, 2013</a></blockquote>

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After watching last year, I'm guessing there's been a lot of repercussions handed out this first week.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Bielema: There's going to be a couple kids we talk to about position switches. It won't be anything drastic like switching sides of the ball</p>&mdash; Bo Mattingly (@SportsTalkwBo) <a href="https://twitter.com/SportsTalkwBo/status/312601711640449025">March 15, 2013</a></blockquote>

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Good to know the Keiro Small-to-linebacker idea hasn't been renewed. Let's keep our All-SEC calibur players at their natural positions, howsabouts?

And that appears to be about it. Feel like you've learned anything?

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Doc Harper is the managing editor of Arkansas Expats and is a regular contributor to College Football News and Sporting Life Arkansas. You can email him hereand follow him on Twitter.