AUBURN, Ala. — Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema took part in the Southeastern Conference coaches’ teleconference on Wednesday.
Here’s what Bielema had to say during his call with reporters, which lasted nearly eight minutes:
"It was a good bye week. We had a chance to get some of our guys a little bit of rest. We got great developmental work with our kids that will be building our program of the future and a chance to get a little bit of a head start on Auburn. Very good football team. Another opportunity for us to play a ranked opponent, our fifth straight and a very, very tough task. I think that they run the ball, very, very well. They throw the ball in-rhythm, on time, in the place they want to throw it in. They've got a group of players that are playing very, very hard for four quarters. So it's a tremendous challenge. The good news is, I think our kids, every game, have understood what we're asking them to do. They're buying into what we've got a little bit more. We still don't have all the right ammunition to fight the right fight, but we're getting closer on a daily basis and it's been a lot of fun."
On whether he has heard back from the SEC league office regarding his issues with the film Auburn provided:
"Yeah, I heard back from them that day. Obviously, the issue is being handled by the SEC and that's about all I can say."
On whether he was satisfied with the response:
"Other than the conversations that we had on Monday, we haven't (heard) anything back yesterday or today. Just a couple correspondences with the league office and that's all we can talk about."
On whether there is much of a difference with his team after the bye week:
"Well, I think the big thing — we played eight straight weeks — was to get a chance to get our legs back under us, to back off a bit physically and mentally and to be able to take a good (evaluation) of what we've done (on) offense, defense, special teams. There's obviously been some things that have broken down that have prohibited us from having a win, but there's some positive things. Some kids playing their best football in Week 8, (seeing) that they continue to improve and that's what we were looking for. Maybe getting a couple of other guys that were not in the starting lineup, some guys that maybe, possibly, could give us something that we hadn't had yet on film. Some of those guys rose to the challenge, and really with these next four remaining games — the games that we're locked in to play — they're going to obviously decide if we have a chance to play in the postseason. But more importantly, give us a good indicator as coaches what we have and what we need to recruit and what we need to have for the future."
On whether he had any direct conversations with Auburn about his issues with the film:
"Myself, no. There were people on our staff, but again all I did was notify the SEC on Monday morning when it came up. That was the protocol I was instructed to do, and that's where it led."
On what he saw on film from Trey Flowers in last year's game against Auburn:
"Definitely there are flashes every time that Trey takes the field. He's a kid that has great upside, plays with a great motor. But in this game in particular, you saw him strain and compete. I think the other thing that jumps out is that he's a different player this year. He's got more power, more strength, he's got more pass rush. He's always been a powerful guy in being able to get off blocks, but he's brought a new element to the game that I think is going to continue to grow here through the next couple of weeks.
On what attributes are needed to be a great defensive end if a player doesn't have "prototypical size":
"I think with a guy that has the tools that Trey has, they'll find a spot for him. But the more that we can increase his mass, his size and his durability, that's a key factor. The part that's been intriguing about Trey is that as good as a football as he is, he's an exceptional student. He's an engineering major, he's got close to a 4.0 GPA. He can really handle a lot of things that your normal players can't as far as just the nuances of the game, maybe some special calls, some special keys that he can pick up on just because he is so intelligent. Combine that with his athletic ability, his desire and his heart, and that's a very special combination."
On how many freshmen he has had to play this year, and whether that is more than in a "normal" year:
"I think we've had nine or 10 true freshmen play. We had nine to 10 redshirt freshmen that hadn't really played obviously because they were redshirted last year. But to play close to 20 of those freshmen is something that you're definitely excited about, because you what's coming. You know the way they're going to get trained, the way they're going to get coached. But on the same account, one of the things that we've really pressed — and this week being our seniors' last game here in Razorback Stadium — is that the year has been about our seniors and paying them the respect and trying to get them to a year that they can hold their head high and know they've improved. Some of those guys have been not only our best players on the field, but our best leaders. So it's been a little bit of marrying the old with the new. It's a fun (thing) to be a part of. Obviously, to lose games hurts, but to see the growth and the development of these guys is what gets you excited and keeps everybody going."