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November 4, 2017

Bret Bielema

Fayetteville, Arkansas

Coastal Carolina - 38, Arkansas - 39

HEAD COACH BRET BIELEMA: Obviously a game that our guys battled through. Give a lot of credit to Coastal Carolina. I think the first half anything that could go wrong did go wrong. Offensively we got three out of four, but we had to keep moving the ball. Defense did some uncharacteristic things like some ball got thrown deep, they took advantage of some open looks. I think the biggest thing on defense side of the ball, adjustments to the second half, try to keep the flow of the game differently, and obviously had helped us out. Made big plays at the end. I can't say enough about T.J. Hammonds, obviously a guy we try to bring on more and more. The kid's got special gear. I said get him in the game. Whatever else he does, our coaches, we've got to do a better job of getting him in there and seeing that he runs with it. We did plan on getting Austin Allen in there. He practiced almost all practice on Tuesday, and Wednesday and Thursday was a hundred percent. We intended to get him in there, but obviously the flow of the game, we were going to come out in the second half a little bit because of the score and the situation, really felt for Cole's development just to keep staying where he is. He'll be a hundred percent next week which will be exciting for us and our preparation.

A couple of injuries. Cheyenne O'Grady landed on his tailbone, pretty significant contusion, I think for a bruised butt would be the correct term. He had a good week of preparation, had a nice package set up for him. But did some nice things overall. De'Andre Coley, we ruled him out before the game, banged up his ankle, just wasn't quite ready to go. And then during the course of the game other than C.J. I don't think we lost anybody else. Some guys had some bumps and bruises, nothing that will keep anybody out.

I do think we'll be healthy going into LSU, big week for us. And there's a lot we have to correct and move forward out of what we did out there today, which is easier after a win. Learned a long time ago that this game is hard and we'll take advantage and put the win column up, but we have to take huge advantage of the film that almost caused us to have a downfall today. Uncharacteristic things, really all over the place. We had a breakdown with the punt game. A little bit to the right, and it dropped, and obviously we can't have that. Our reaction on the bubble screen out there wasn't like anything we drill with our coach. We've got to react to it better than that whether the throw was there or not.

Defensively, again, there was some schematic things that changed up, we didn't quite know what they were going to do. They had a couple of different looks in the options game, but out guys handled things on the sideline. So that's where we're at.

Q. (No microphone.) There's a great shot of you.
HEAD COACH BRET BIELEMA: That's your interpretation. That's your interpretation. I didn't want them to see the word I was going to say. It might have been when we had a touchdown throw, over threw it. And the next play we had a tackle for a loss, and went from a touchdown play that's open to a negative yard play. And if you're good at interpreting my facial reactions, I'm all for you.

We've got to get going, we can't keep coming out here, we had plenty of time, I thought we had a better chance to move the football without tempo. The ten minutes I made the decision to stay in our regular mode. I made the decision to go back out and run our formal tempo to win the game, and that's what we did.

Q. T.J. only had eight touches. Do you wish you'd gotten more? Do you think he'll get more moving forward? And how big was the score in 12 seconds, not only did that narrow the lead but it gave you more time to come back.
HEAD COACH BRET BIELEMA: Absolutely. He's a special player. That play was locked up nicely, and he did a great job.

As far as the amount of touches, we're trying to get him the ball, more and more. I think the better he learns the offensive in all phases he's going to help us. We can't dictate on the flow of the game when it's in there. As Head Coach I'm hoping we get him in there as much as anybody.

Q. Specifically on the defense, what were they doing and had they shown that?
HEAD COACH BRET BIELEMA: We had to play safety a little different because of the option game, which put them in different positions. And then they did a couple of fades out of boundary, but they also took down advantage of the middle open look. I think our guys would tell you they can play better technique.

Q. With the two games T.J. has had the last two weeks, do you look back in hindsight, and think I wish we had given him the ball more the last two years?
HEAD COACH BRET BIELEMA: No, I think you look forward and say I'm glad that he's there and try to get him the ball as much as we can. I think negative people think negative thoughts, we try to stay positive.

Q. (No microphone.)
HEAD COACH BRET BIELEMA: I know the hit came high. It was a shorter quarterback, there's no doubt in my mind, they're going to come in and try to harm him. And the thing I argued on the sideline was bam, bam. If he threw the hitch, we're going to have to hit him and they agreed, probably shouldn't have been a roughing, but they couldn't take a way the fact that it went helmet to helmet. That's what our discussion was about.

Q. If Austin is a hundred percent next week will it be open competition between him and Cole or what do you anticipate?
HEAD COACH BRET BIELEMA: Yeah, I think the great thing is we've got two guys that have won football games. I'd like to keep that as a surprise for Saturday, not today.

Q. This was a one and 17. Do you feel like maybe the team, your team played down to them?
HEAD COACH BRET BIELEMA: Well, there's no doubt in my mind we didn't play as clean as we wanted to. But we had a good week of preparation. I though our guys were engaged. We had things go against us, every break that could go against us, the way the ball bounced, the ball is on the ground. I think that one Austin fumbled, was the only time we got a loose ball. Yeah, I know they're one and seven, but obviously their head coach had to step down before the year started.

So, you know, I think in this -- the thing that I learned in this business a long time ago, anybody can beat anybody on either side. Obviously the team we're playing, LSU, they got beat earlier by somebody they didn't think -- or the outside world thought that. But football is football, man. You get a couple of big plays, it goes against you, you don't catch a break, bad things can happen.

Our guys are resilient, they never stopped believing, down by two scores, people would have thought bad thoughts, our guys thing good thoughts. And that's why a couple of guys ask questions, I'm trying to teach you how we think, trying to help you out.

Q. Big range of emotions at the end of the half. You think you got a touchdown and then you don't. What was your take on that. Do you think O'Grady might be out for a while?
HEAD COACH BRET BIELEMA: I don't think he'll be out. I just grabbed him in the locker room, for those of us who have had butt bruising, it's tender in that area, so I think he'll be back. As far as that play, obviously it was going to be a gift from upstairs if it did happen. He made the catch, but I didn't know about the knee being down in the transition. But we had -- I think they took over the ball with a minute eight. We had all three time outs, we had used that. There was a big play, a play we got called for being lined up too deep in the back field. That was very upsetting. I went to the official, usually when a tackle is set too far behind the line of scrimmage, the official will come over and say, hey can you tell 60, can you tell whoever to get up, and nobody warned us, that's why I had an official talk.

There was another time where they told us the clock was going to be dead and it wasn't. They started the clock to wind, and just a communication problem from the officials to us. There was a point in the game I don't know if everybody caught it, but the officials were yelling at one another, it was pretty entertaining for me. As a head coach I'd never seen that before.

Q. What did you say when it was 38-25, in the third quarter, there?
HEAD COACH BRET BIELEMA: Same question as earlier. I think I answered it already. We're on the sidelines, we talked about going tempo offensively, we decided to do that before we took the field. I said let's stay huddled up, because we wanted to sub in some personnel. Dan started it off with that play that hit for all the marbles. So the biggest thing was not no flinch, not to jump, not no jump to any conclusions, stay calm and composed, stay with our offense. And then our defense went on to make a stand.

Q. You talked about negativity a little bit in this press conference. And there's obviously a lot of negativity in the stands, a lot of reaction. And I just wonder what your message is to them or anybody about where you are as a program?
HEAD COACH BRET BIELEMA: You know, I think about the part that separates a family from the outside world is -- in that locker room you know the players and coaches and you know what's involved. If I brought negativity, I meant from the tone of the question, that they were giving it to me, I was trying to make it a positive one. The outside world looking in, I think they're happy that we won the game. It doesn't matter if we look at the first game of the year that we won, the second, third game, they all count the same.

We've got to do a better job of executing our game plan to beat LSU, I know that. So we don't really bring the outside world into our program. I think our guys have learned that. On the flip side of it, we have a great success trying to keep the outside world, as well, we'll weather the storm in both cases. And hopefully keep the ball.

Q. Can you talk about the offensive line?
HEAD COACH BRET BIELEMA: They did a good job. We thought last week they did a better job of keeping our quarter back protected. Cole's understanding to get rid of the ball. Andy took off and ran it, I believe twice today, he had a first down. Playing to their strengths, we have so many young kids on offense. I've seen a lot of stats about the percentage of total yardage and points for first or second year players have in our program. And when you're playing with that youth, there's things that are going to happen. They're very frustrating, pull your hair out, but just keep weathering the storm and good things will happen. That's another great point today.

Q. Your emotions last week, big celebration, was it celebration this time?
HEAD COACH BRET BIELEMA: I think I told our guys first, we give thanks to the Big Man upstairs, we said a prayer. And basically I said to them, take a deep breath, understand you're able to win a football game, but with this winning comes a lot of things we need to correct. A lot of credit goes to Carolina. We need to continue looking at the glass as half full. We need a great week of preparation, and we can't let these guys, the result of this game, get us. We've got to keep moving forward and take advantage of the opportunity we have.

I think it's a great thing to go into LSU, 11 o'clock particular. So many Louisiana kids on our roster, I think it should be overwhelming a fun week of preparation, and we don't have many of these left.

Q. (No microphone.)
HEAD COACH BRET BIELEMA: I don't think so. I get it. I think people will say that. I really didn't see that from our team. I thought I saw a group -- last Saturday was a happy group, don't get me wrong, but Sunday we put it to bed. I purposely cut meetings short on Sunday, so we actually got more prep from them on Sunday. Maybe as coaches we did so much overwhelming preaching of, watch out, be aware of these guys, that we let it creep into their heads.

I think offensive it didn't look like we weren't playing aggressively, in my opinion, with some of the guys' body demeanors. And the second half when our offense made a couple of plays we turned the tide. And that last series, they were just roaring off the football and making a difference.

Q. The big two point play, and did the cards say to go for two or what was the thinking? Obviously it worked out well?
HEAD COACH BRET BIELEMA: Yeah, sometimes you don't go to the cards until the fourth quarter, but I thought the way the game was going, as head coach, that's what I've got to do. When we had a break in the action, we got down there close, I knew we were going for two. So when there's a slight break I said to the offensive coaches, score a touchdown here, and we're going for it now. And Dan knew right away where he was going to go to. Jeremy Patton, even though he's a junior by nature, he's been in the program for eight games now. And the growth that he's had -- he also missed almost his entire day Tuesday, got the flu bug, had a temperature, but battled back. And I think especially when T.J. went down, he knew he had to step up his game a little bit and took over some of T.J.'s reps. So a really good player in the making. A guy that, again, like a lot of our guys, especially on offense, a lot of youth that's got to get better in a hurry, and it's fortunate for us now to get out of here with a W and have a positive teaching moment.

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