Arkansas’ first spring practice under Bret Bielema was closed to the public, save for one Saturday morning scrimmage and the session ending Red-White Game, so takeaways are largely limited to what the coaching staff have offered up over the past six weeks.
The recurring theme seems to be that Bret Bielema has a system, and that while he is implementing it he is going to be a form over function type of coach. Bielema probably could have done some things administratively to make this team’s curb appeal a little better, but he chose not to. Getting his system, his terminology, and his thumbprint on the program took priority.
QB – C+ Though he is gone, there is no denying that Bobby Petrino knows quarterbacks better than anyone, and he reeeeeeally wanted Brandon Allen. The talent there is undeniable.
RB – B Jonathan Williams had a great freshman season, Kody Walker has dropped 10 lbs and looks much more explosive. And of course everyone can’t wait to see incoming freshman Alex Collins.
WR – B- Lots of unrealized talent in this group.
OL – B- Looking for improvements due to experience and the reputation of Bielema and Sam Pittman.
DL – B+ Quite possibly the strength of the team this season. Look for Chris Smith and Trey Flowers to compete for postseason accolades.
LB – C Waiting for one of the many “projects” here of the past few years to pan out.
DB – B- Will Hines and Rohan Gaines were tried by fire in 2012, and that should pay dividends in 2013.
Patrick Arinze is a bruising running back who was the leading rusher in the Red-White game last Saturday. His physical running style aligns perfectly with the styles of other running backs who have played for Bret Bielema over the years.
On the defensive side, safety Eric Bennett has been getting plenty of accolades from coaches during post-practice comments. This could be the year the light fully comes on.