Southern Miss at Arkansas – Pre-Game Chalk Talk


Southern Miss at Arkansas Alex Collins

This Saturday it is Southern Miss at Arkansas.

We will update this post as the game gets closer with news and notes of interests. We start it with a few odds and ends from Arkansas and a press conference at Southern Miss where head coach Todd Monken breaks down the Southern Miss at Arkansas match up.

FAYETTEVILLE (Sept. 10)- The University of Arkansas football team continued practice Tuesday evening in preparation for Saturday’s match up against Southern Miss inside Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.

Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jim Chaney spoke with the media following practice and talked about implementing new features to the offense.

“We put in some new stuff today,” Chaney said. “We struggled with some of it, but I thought their attitude was good and their effort level was fine.”

Chaney also talked about the goals for Saturday’s game.

“I’d like to see us play consistent, smart and intelligent football, with great effort for 60 minutes,” Chaney said.


FAYETTEVILLE (Sept. 9)- University of Arkansas head football coach Bret Bielema met with the media on Monday to recap the team’s 31-21 win over Samford in Little Rock last Saturday, while also looking forward to this Saturday’s game against Southern Mississippi in Fayetteville.

Coach Bielema was pleased with the way his team fought through adversity and claimed a win over Samford, bringing its strongest effort when it mattered most in the fourth quarter.

“The way they finished showed me that they could snap back in and show how dominant they can be when they’re playing well,” Coach Bielema said. “I never was really concerned. I thought our fourth-quarter mentality would kick in. It was just a matter of time.”

SEC Freshman of the Week, Alex Collins, and teammate Jonathan Williams combined to rush for 298 yards and two touchdowns in the Razorbacks’ win over the Bulldogs last Saturday. Coach Bielema said that what makes the Arkansas running game effective is the chemistry between teammates.

“Ever since I’ve been in the business, to have a one-two punch the way those guys are in there tapping out when they’re tired, the chemistry that we’ve got going there with Kiero Small and up front on the offensive line is very, very special,” Coach Bielema said.

Having had time to reflect back on the game, Coach Bielema said the experience serves as a great learning tool for Arkansas and will allow them to grow as a football team.

“I told our coaches on Sunday morning while watching the film that you couldn’t have scripted anything any better,” Coach Bielema said. “It’s not laid out the way that everyone wanted it, but for me to have a team that faced adversity, that was behind in the fourth quarter, that battled through some injuries before the game started, as well as some guys that got playing time during the course of the game, it was as good as we could ask for and our guys responded with a win.”

The Razorbacks (2-0) return to Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville this Saturday to face Southern Mississippi (0-2). Kickoff is set for 11:21 a.m. and the game will be broadcast on SEC TV.


Alex Collins has been named SEC Freshman of the Week for his performance in last week’s 31-21 win vs. Samford, it was announced Monday.

Collins rushed 24 times for 172 yards and his first career touchdown against the Bulldogs. His 172 rushing yards rank as the ninth-highest single-game total in the NCAA this season and highest among freshmen. The Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., native leads the SEC and ranks sixth in the NCAA, first among freshmen, in rushing with an average of 151.5 yards per game. Collins’ 303 total rushing yards also lead the conference and rank fourth in the nation.

Collins, who last week became the first UA freshman to rush for more than 100 yards in his collegiate debut since Felix Jones in 2005, is the first freshman in school history to open his career with consecutive 100-yard rushing games. He also is the fourth freshman in school history to have multiple 100-yard rushing games in a season, joining Darren McFadden’s five in 2005, Felix Jones’ two in 2005 and Matt Jones’ two in 2001.

This is the first weekly conference honor for Collins and the second this season for the Razorbacks. Junior defensive end Trey Flowers was named SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week last week, and Collins’ selection marks the second time in the last three seasons Arkansas has had at least one conference player of the week each of the first two weeks.


From Gulf Live:

The Golden Eagles rank dead last among 123 NCAA FBS teams in rushing, averaging 42.5 yards per game.

After totaling 23 yards on 24 carries in the season-opening loss to Texas State, Southern Miss actually improved against Nebraska last week. The Golden Eagles ran the ball 27 times for 61 yards in the 56-13 defeat to the Cornhuskers.

“It’s been terrible,” Monken said. “I don’t know what to tell you. We haven’t, obviously, schemed it up right. We haven’t been able to get the kind of push and the movement or get our running backs to run downhill and protect it. … It starts with us as coaches, our offensive coaches, to devise a plan that gives us a chance to be more balanced and take the pressure off our quarterback.”

The Golden Eagles are averaging 1.7 yards per carry. Senior Kendrick Hardy is the team’s leading rusher with 62 yards on 18 carries, an average of 3.4.

Arkansas, on the other hand, has one of the best running games in the country, and one of the nation’s best young backs in freshman Alex Collins.

Collins, rated a four-star prospect coming out of Plantation (Fla.) High School, is the reigning SEC Freshman of the Week after rushing for 172 yards and a touchdown in a 31-21 win over Samford. He currently leads the SEC in rushing at 151.5 yards per game.

“He’s big, physical, runs downhill,” Southern Miss defensive coordinator David Duggan said. “He’s a little different than (Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah) last week, who was really a speed back. (Collins) is going to run downhill on us, so we’ve got to make sure we keep him in a phone booth with our safeties. You don’t want to let him get in space, because he can make you miss.”

Collins is one of two outstanding young backs for Arkansas. Sophomore Jonathan Williams ranks third in the SEC in rushing at 138.5 yards per game, having totaled 126 yards and a touchdown against Samford.


From the Hattiesburg American:

Offensive miscues have continued to sidetrack USM. The offense managed 284 total yards against a Cornhuskers’ defense that allowed 603 to Wyoming a week earlier.

“There’s nothing more deflating than a turnover and then a turnover and a score. We’ve done it three times in two weeks so we’re obviously good at it,” Monken said. “The biggest thing is how we get better as a football team and the standard we set. Obviously, we’ve got to do a better job of hanging onto the football, not turning it over, to at least give ourselves a chance.”

While turnovers haunt the offense, the defense has been forced to play with little rest. Southern Miss allowed 479 yards to Nebraska and running back Ameer Abdulla rushed for 116 on 27 carries.

Defensive coordinator Dave Duggan shouldered much of the responsibility for his unit’s play Saturday.

“There are a couple of mistakes that I blame … on myself, that I didn’t do a good enough job explaining exactly where guys are supposed to go and giving them confidence to fit where they’re supposed to fit, so hopefully we can get that done this week,” Duggan said. “We’ve got to stop the run. We can’t give up that many rushing yards and win a football game.”

“They’re very similar [Nebraska and Arkansas]. That’s the benefit of us playing last week against Nebraska. If you can take a positive from last game is this team that we’re gonna play this week is very similar schematically,” Duggan said. “They want to pound the football, they want to run a power game so a lot of the things that happened to us, like I said from the first week, is that we learn from our mistakes.”


Southern Miss head football coach Todd Monken conducted a press conference earlier this week and here are some of the things he had to say about the upcoming game with the Razorbacks:

Opening Statement…
“After yesterday, we’ve put the Nebraska game behind us and we’re moving on to Arkansas, a quality SEC opponent. They’ve got a new staff, obviously, Coach (Bret) Bielema coming over from Wisconsin where he did a great job. Again, I think it’s a real challenge for our players, obviously, going there but the biggest thing is how we get better as a football team and the standard we set. We’ve got to do a better job of hanging onto the football, not turning it over, to at least give ourselves a chance. The bottom line is playing good football. We’re doing a great job of playing with energy, enthusiasm, body language. Our guys are playing hard but, at the end of the day, you can’t turn it over like we’re turning it over and expect to give yourself a chance. We need to do that Saturday.”

On overall satisfaction with the Golden Eagle defense versus Nebraska…
“I thought our defense, for the most part, kept Taylor Martinez in check. He had a few plays. We didn’t give up a bunch of explosive plays. They were going to make their fair share of plays. They’re a good football team. They’ve won nine or so games (each year) over the last five years so they are a good opponent. But we didn’t help it out. I mean, there’s nothing more deflating than a turnover … then a turnover and a score. We’ve got to find a way to run the football, not turn it over and give ourselves a chance to play because our defense has played well enough two weeks in a row to keep us in the game … Have they made mistakes? Of course they have, but we’ve played well enough to at least give ourselves a chance.”

Explanation for what went wrong on Southern Miss interceptions versus Nebraska…
“The first one was our split. I mean, we’re six yards wider than we should be lined up. Now can we correct that quarterback wise? Of course. Does (wide receiver Rickey Bradley) need to have a little bit of awareness of where he’s at? Of course … Then the second was a throw over the middle that got tipped. That’s always a concern when you throw the ball over the middle, you get a ball tipped. People are around the ball. Then the third one was just a misread. The fourth one was just a desperation play. That one I don’t count. Everyone can tell, that was fourth down, end of the game. That’s insignificant. But the first two were ones that led directly to scores. Not indirectly, directly to scores … The week before it was the fumbling issue. Then this week obviously we did a better job of protecting it as we are building and trying to set a certain standard. But obviously we have to do a better job of holding onto it.”

On use of true freshman backup quarterback Nick Mullens in the Nebraska game and whether this might lead to a dual quarterback situation in the future…
“I don’t see it that way. Nick is our backup. We needed to play him some, I don’t care what age he is, just in case something happened to (starting quarterback Allan Bridgford) because he’s our backup quarterback. So regardless of what age he was, redshirt, not redshirt … There’s a chance Nick doesn’t play the rest of the year. That’s just the way it is. I don’t know that. There’s times you have to make decisions with freshmen that you have to base on the here and now, not the future.”

On preparing for Arkansas and its run-based offense…
“It’s interesting. Jim Chaney, runs their offense, does I think a great job. You talk about a guy that’s … I mean he can change spots. He is a chameleon. Last year at Tennessee they were no huddle and throwing it around and had really good success. And this year he comes to work with (Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema) and they’re running what they did at Wisconsin … Smash-mouth, downhill, tight end, play-action pass, which I was around for many years (at LSU with coach Les Miles) and then in the NFL … Which is good football. When you watch them, they play good football. That’s what we’re trying to accomplish. Whether you’re spread, whether the philosophy they believe in, it’s still about taking care of the football and playing good football and I think they do a good job of that.”

On development of the Southern Miss offensive line from Week 1 versus Texas State to Week 2 versus Nebraska…
“They did (get better). We obviously didn’t have Vincent Brown so I thought Aaron Reed came in and played as well as he had played, hadn’t really played a lot here. There were signs of it. Certain guys, maybe not so much. But I thought our communication was better. There was a little more resolve with our guys up front. Not to be confused with where we want to be, but I thought our communication was better. Our ID’s were not always perfect but I thought it was better … We’re going to continue to improve. Where we’re at in the schedule, I’m not sure you’ll see it as much as you would (due to) the quality of opponent we’re playing.”

On emergence of freshman receiver Tyre’oune Holmes, the team leader in receptions…
“He’s done unbelievably well. I mean, we’re frustrated with the fumble two weeks ago and the tipped pass but to ask a guy to come in and lead your team in receptions coming right out of high school, that’s a lot to ask a guy. But he accepts that responsibility and wants to be a great player … He’s going to continue to get better with his route running, with his ball skills and those things and hanging onto it.”

On the prognosis for injured offensive lineman Vincent Brown
“I don’t really speak to injuries. We don’t have him right now.”

On expectations from the Arkansas defense…
“Very sound. Guys play hard. Obviously, that philosophy came with (head coach Bret Bielema and staff) from Wisconsin where they did a great job for a number of years, starting with Coach Bielema, whose background is on the defensive side. So they do a great job … What you don’t see on tape is a lot of explosive plays. You see some games where they turn guys loose but, for the most part, they force you to drive the ball and that’s a sign of a really good defense. They believe in their philosophy and they don’t waiver from it. So we’re going to have to do a good job of executing and finishing off drives with touchdowns.”

On mental makeup and resilience of starting quarterback Allan Bridgford
“He’s been fine. His personality is great. He lets things roll off his back. He’s taken a beating the first two weeks. Some of it we’ve put on him because we’ve thrown so much, others because of things our opponents have done. But we’ve got to find a way to protect him better and then keep him upright because he’s obviously been our best offensive player two weeks in a row. (Regardless) of the interceptions, he’s been our best offensive player.”

Asked if Southern Miss ground game was not what he’d hoped…
“Well that’s being really nice. I mean, I’ve had people say it as nice as they can. It’s been terrible. I don’t know what to tell you. We haven’t, obviously, schemed it up right. We haven’t been able to get the kind of push and the movement or get our running backs to run downhill and protect it. Obviously, when you fumble the ball then you run a little defensive as we did this week. But we’ve got to do a better job and it starts with us. It starts with us as coaches, our offensive coaches, to devise a plan that gives us a chance to be more balanced and take the pressure off our quarterback. Some of our screen game that we run does take a little bit of that off but we just haven’t been able to get ourselves going in that regard. But that is obviously the biggest challenge we have right now is running the football and not turning it over. And that’s obvious. Anybody can see that. That’s pretty simple.”

Asked what the biggest problem with running the football has been…
“If I knew the biggest problem, we’d have it solved. We have more problems than just up the middle. Obviously, in terms of ID’ing … in terms of what we’re doing … it’s naïve to not think that there’s certain things that we’re doing that we have to get better at as coaches and as players. Playing more physical. And then certain things that we’ve got to change to give ourselves a chance to at least take some of the pressure off our quarterback.”

On overall health of the team…
“We’re beat up. We’re hopeful to get guys back but we’re pretty beat up at this point. And that happens when you go play a physical team but it doesn’t matter. I’ve said this plenty of times. I don’t care where you’re at, nobody cares. So I don’t care who’s beat up, when they line up in the black and gold, we expect them to play well. The fans expect them to play well and we’ve got to give ourselves a chance to win and do what they can do, not what they can’t do. We’re not into excuses, I don’t care who it is. Whoever we line up with, we’ve got to find a way to score, stop `em and to win the game.”

On what he’s seen on film from last week’s Arkansas-Samford game, which Arkansas won 31-21…
“(Samford) didn’t turn it over. Arkansas, it appeared, I couldn’t tell through some of the tape whether it came through special teams or whether turnovers, there were times I thought Samford got the ball in pretty good field position that led to a couple of those scores. For the most part, Arkansas held them in check. I haven’t had a chance to really dissect all of it but you have those games. You have those games where you don’t play as well as you like, a few things go the other way … Samford has been doing a good job the last couple years and has good players. It’s not as if they don’t have good players and they executed a lot of the things they wanted to in the game. But at the end of the day, I’m sure just like Samford, like us, there are no moral victories. At the end of the day, Arkansas won. And whether it was 56-0 or whatever it ended up being … Arkansas still got the win.”

Please give us  your score prediction to the Southern Miss at Arkansas game in the comments section below.

Southern Miss at Arkansas SM QB

Tags: , , , , ,