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October 15, 2016

Bret Bielema

Fayetteville, Arkansas

Arkansas - 34

Ole Miss - 30

COACH BIELEMA: I thought our guys really rebounded well, last week at this time. I've always said with high expectations comes a high price when you don't reach those things. Our guys responded really well.

Tuesday was a good practice, but there wasn't a lot of juice. I got on them a little bit afterwards. They came out and practiced really well Wednesday. Thursday was another good day. Friday they had a good look in their eyes.

We talked about playing here. We talk about the fans we got coming in here week after week. We've had some good games on the road, obviously beating Ole Miss and LSU. Took a little detour.

Yesterday, after our practice, we usually drove right to the hotel. We usually take a right, we took a left. Got kids talking all of a sudden. I pulled up over on the side of the stadium there where they look at their stadium. I talked about your home. Everybody comes from different homes. Everybody has a home that they called home. In that home has a lot of valuable things, but the people in it are really what matter.

People have different homes. The home me and my wife share now is awesome, but it's not the home I have lived in my whole life. I told those guys, Whatever you have to do, let's do what we have to do to protect this house. The good news is there's going to be 70,000, 80,000 people there tomorrow to help you do this. I thought they bought into it hook, line and sinker. Never wavered. Needed help from the crowd. They delivered.

This is a really good performance, really good thing for our football team, but for the Razorbacks in general. All those people that came to make this happen after that disappointment last week, I know it was hard for them as well during the course of the week. Our guys responded the right way.

Came out of the it pretty healthy, I think. Matt and his crew to get a lot of our guys healthy. Those guys were banged up. That Alabama game was very, very physical. Those guys responded the right way in the training room. So now we'll actually have a moment. It's kind of nice, we have fall break. I'll give those guys a little time tomorrow to gather themselves. Won't get them back over here until Monday afternoon, have a mini bye week before we get in our preparation, go take on a very tough Auburn team who is playing here really tough at the end.

SEC West, no surprise, week after week is a new opportunity and a new challenge. With that I'll open it up for questions.

Q. Your defense got you some stops. Even a 38-yard drive.
COACH BIELEMA: You know, one of the things we obviously do statistically is break down your opponent. Some of the numbers that this offense has put up, meaning Ole Miss, has been very impressive against a team like last week they put the numbers that they put up in the first half against Alabama were unbelievable. Then obviously the games of late, maybe against Georgia and all those other schools, kind of get daunting.

But our kids really focused on the task. We knew our three keys, one of them was obviously to align and play the call correctly for four quarters from the snap to the whistle. I thought our guys did that. Obviously gave up a few plays. But they're good.

Our last key was to control Kelly. We wanted to control him, maybe intimidate and rattle him a little bit. I think our guys were having some fun out there with him, the very good competitor that he is. To have that game the way it did with the QB scramble, I think our guy laid the wood pretty good, popped that ball out, was kind of a fun way to end it.

Q. Rawleigh obviously had a monster game. How big was he?
COACH BIELEMA: Yeah, first Rawleigh's big opportunities came because he was preparing for this day every which way possible. Obviously the whole recruiting story. But Cody unfortunately didn't get injured in this game, he got injured before the year even started. He's a kid that's been trying to play with a foot injury. When he got done with that Alabama game, he couldn't even walk on Sunday. He is actually going to have surgery tomorrow. So that removes him for the year.

Really Rawleigh, Devwah and T.J. Hammonds have been preparing as the one and two guys. Rawleigh did a lot of really good things. I think he will give a lot of credit to the guys up front. He's an exceptional football player with great focus and I am glad he is playing with for us. Devwah came in. I don't know if Rawleigh could do that for four quarters. Devwah get in there and hit a couple of explosive runs is pretty good.

Q. Your thoughts on the play of Austin. Hatcher makes a big catch there late.
COACH BIELEMA: Hatch is one of those guys a little banged up. I knew it was going to take a lot to deny him an opportunity to go out there today. Drew, you guys saw that shot he took on the back. Took an unbelievable amount of work for him during the course of the week to even get out there. Another gritty performance by No. 8.

He is an incredible kid with great fight, great moxy, great perseverance, and another great indication of what he's all about.

Q. It seemed like in this game, Austin was able to stay up. Wasn't on his back a lot in the first half. What did the offensive line do right this time?
COACH BIELEMA: Not always a lot to do with the offensive line. When the quarterback gets hit, it's not always the offensive line. There's definitely things we did. I give a lot of credit to Kurt and our offensive staff. Dan put together a plan, certain protection things we had to do obviously.

Our guys just keep getting better. I think Brian Wallace, in particular those guys really this week jumped up in their preparation. I thought Jake Raulerson did as well. He kind of increased his intensity at practice. In the SEC, we call it the SEC strain. You got to take that extra step, that extra push, that extra shove to keep our quarterback protected that much longer. A lots of them, it's that bam, bam. You know what I mean?

Again, our guys did some really good things, not only our O-line, fullbacks, tight ends. Devwah, early in the first half, he came across a formation, I believe their guy blitzed off the edge. He never seen that look. But he knew he had to keep his quarterback upright. That was an unbelievable growing play for that kid.

Q. On De'Andre's targeting ejection, did you get any clarity on what they were looking at there? Second time this season, is there something you have to do to work with him?
COACH BIELEMA: The first one, obviously was a case all by itself. This one, what we always talk about when we have an interception is you take care -- usually the guy that is intended to catch the ball, defensive coaches, take care of the intended receiver, which means the first guy on the team knock that guy out.

They obviously saw it and called it a targeting. I'm sure it's a great call again. So we'll take that and look at it.

I do know that the way they worded things over the loud speaker means they really couldn't go either way with it. They couldn't overturn it, so it was inconclusive. I think that's where it stayed. That's I'm sure where it stayed. I'm sure another great call.

Q. You had 200 rushing yards. How good was it to get the running game?
COACH BIELEMA: I learned with Hayden Fry a long time ago, someone can throw for over 300 yards and you still have a chance to win. But if somebody runs for 200 or higher, you really have a chance to win. I preached that to our guys all week. I knew we had to run the football. I thought there were explosive plays we took advantage of.

For our formula, not everybody's formula. Last week we threw for 400 yards against Alabama. Great to talk about, scored 40 points. Not an easy task. But we can't win the game that way, you know. For us to play our formula, here at Arkansas, to have success, we got to have them both work.

Q. Penalties came in, became sort of a factor today. Overturned some interception plays. What is going to happen to overcome that?
COACH BIELEMA: You know, obviously penalties, we preach all the time about playing clean. We were snake bit on a couple things. I thought there were two plays in the kicking game where we have to look and analyze why that happened. When we intercepted the ball, I believe they called the corner off-sides. I think that was D.J. on a boundary there. We got to clean that up and make sure we're getting ourselves aligned. Kind of one of those plays.

Then Ryan came back. That little spot on the field was unfortunate for us. Ryan could have had the pick-six. We talk about CTOTTY, catch the ones they throw you. Again, we're splitting hairs. I'm going to enjoy this win. Big recruiting weekend for us. Big stage on national TV. For us as a program to be in the SEC West, to be where we're at, and to continue to move and advance, we'd obviously love to have those other two games back. We had an opportunity to win them both, but we didn't. You earn everything in this world, especially in the SEC West.

Q. In a close game, talk about Toby Baker.
COACH BIELEMA: He wants to be called a punter. That was into the wind. That was a huge hit. I'm going to tell you now, it's kind of a tale. When my coaches, you know, so we have guys that are in charge of every unit. Barry Lunney runs punt. He's really incorporated Toby into the plan each week because we hadn't done that before. Ever since we started doing that, he even raised his performance even higher. We say, We want this many yards, this amount of hang time, he's even exceeded it sometimes.

I give a lot credit to Toby. He's a self-made man. He was a walk-on here that was behind Sammy. He just kept plugging ahead. Just relentless. And the pooches, too, you know that we had. I know that one bounced in the end zone, but that could have been down on the one yard line. Very thankful and fortunate for Toby.

Q. Josh couldn't be more confident, more enthusiastic in his play tonight.
COACH BIELEMA: Yeah, I think two things. First, Josh is a relentless preparing guy. He's a very quiet young man. If you interview him, get two words out of him, you're doing good. I've spoken to him six times and I've known him for four years. Very quiet man, confident man.

He did a nice job of bouncing back. Last week, make a lot of people look silly. You know what I mean? You can't just dwell on that world. He knew he had to get better and he did that. Again, just a true testament.

I'll tell you what, Paul Rhoads, too. I'm very blessed to have the staff that I have. The combination of Rob and Paul and Vernon and Rory defensively when everybody is saying all these things, to bounce back and play the way they did today was big.

Q. In the goal line situation, there was more success today than the Texas A&M game. What was the difference?
COACH BIELEMA: Well, I think we're getting better. One of the things we always struggle with here at Arkansas is just keeping this roster complete, you know, the depth we need to go. I make reference all the time, we do a good enough job at it, if we start losing guys, we missed some juniors that jumped out early in the draft. Glad we developed them. That kind of hurt our armor a little bit.

Now we have a lot of first- and second-year players as linemen that are trying to play in this league and it's not that easy. They're getting better every week. We don't cut corners at practice. Kurt, those linemen are always working, always grinding.

I'll tell you what, Kurt Anderson development, No. 70 for us is playing at a high level and everybody else is trying to catch him. I think the development that he's shown this year from where he was a year ago at this time is a great indication of what a great O-line coach we have.

Q. Lost Dre. You put Dwayne Eugene in, linebackers looked solid.
COACH BIELEMA: Two things. Dre is a very talented young man. I think we began to rep some guys in there the last two weeks, which ended up being a blessing in disguise. Things always happen for a reason. Mark came up to me, funny. Here is a notebook. Somebody left it. I saw it right away. It was Dwayne Eugene's. I didn't have to look at it. He brings that notebook into every meeting, team meeting, punt meeting, PBR, KOC, KOR.

His mom and dad have raised an incredible kid. He came out a great program where he learned how to prepare for a game. Never redshirted, never started. Unusual when you don't redshirt a main starter. I said this morning in the team meeting before we left for the hotel, 35 has earned this opportunity. I know Dre got injured. But 35 has earned for this opportunity by the way he prepared. You saw it out there today.

Q. Keon comes up with a couple of big catches, fourth down catch. Talk about that.
COACH BIELEMA: Keon is what we always say, he's a big receiver and he plays big. A lot of times guys of his size and stature play small, don't frame it up. He's always going up big and catching the ball in his hands. Again, I think he has a good rapport with him. Really distributed the ball pretty good.

Little ankle injury at the end. Cantrell popped in there. I don't know how many guys caught balls, but I thought Austin distributed the ball pretty good.

Q. How big was that fourth down catch by Keon? You had two losses. This is your third game against a top-12 team. How big a win is this for you guys at this stage?
COACH BIELEMA: Four down calls. Going into the fourth quarter, I knew the game we were playing in, my analytics with Coach Ash, what we've used this year. I knew we were going to be aggressive on fourth down calls in the fourth quarter because of the offense we were facing. That put me in a position to say, Go ahead and make it happen. Then the execution to call by Dan and the staff. Dan and the staff put together an unbelievable game plan once again and adjusted as the game went on.

The SEC and the SEC West is just like it's a whole 'nother league, whole 'nother world that you live in. To have three teams now, I think everybody has been in the top 15 that we played. I don't know what happened today. I saw Alabama was up pretty good, right? A&M had a bye week. Obviously we got Ole Miss. I'm sure Auburn is going to be ranked in the top 20 next week. It's just kind of fun. It is what it is. It's not fun when you lose. But it's a lot of fun when you win.

You have to keep it in perspective. I told those guys on Sunday, You lost to two teams that are undefeated, might be one of the two best teams in college football. Keep in perspective where we are, keep working, keep grinding, and some day we'll be there.

Q. You controlled the pace of play and momentum throughout the game. Double the time of possession as Ole Miss. How did that come into factor?
COACH BIELEMA: It's got to be a part of our DNA. When we don't have that formula, we're not going to win. We'll get an occasional win, the cards are aligned the right way. Our DNA means time of possession, moving the sticks, being methodical, process things. Big plays.

On the flipside, one of the things that really jumped out, we need to convert some of those touchdowns. Two field goals in the first half, three opportunities in the red zone where we came away with only six points.

God bless. Go Hogs.

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