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Hogs Offense Reflects Bielema’s Attitude

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By Anthony Richards
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In 2012 Wisconsin gained 3,309 yards on the ground under Bielema, 124 more yards than SEC leader and national champion Alabama.

Bret Bielema wants to establish Arkansas as a physical team that wins games in the trenches.  This was evident in his first SEC Media Days as two of the three players attending the event were fullback Kiero Small and center Travis Swanson.
At 5-10 and 255 pounds, Small looks to be a bruising lead blocker for the Razorback running game and a key cog in Bielema’s game plan. 
“I see my role as being a tough, hard-nosed player and a leader on the team,” Small said.  “We want to go 1-0 every game.”
Helping Small create holes for the Arkansas running backs is Swanson, who in his senior season is considered by many to be the best center in the SEC.
Bielema regularly produced some of the top rushing offenses in the Big Ten during his time at Wisconsin, leading the conference three of his seven years.  This is a trend that Bielema will look to continue now that he is the head coach in the SEC.
“We’ve grasped his philosophy and work ethic and know what he wants from us as a team,” Swanson said.  “He knows what he’s doing with the big guys up front.”
  In 2012 Wisconsin gained 3,309 yards on the ground under Bielema, 124 more yards than SEC leader and national champion Alabama. 
“You know you have a good rushing offense when everyone in the stadium knows you’re going to run and your still able to do it,” Bielema said Wednesday during SEC Media Days.
Bielema hired former Tennessee offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, who orchestrated the SEC’s second best statistical offense in 2012.  The majority of those yards were gained through the air, a different approach from the balanced attack that Bielema hopes to implement at Arkansas.
“We have to be smart; we can’t try to cram a square peg into a round hole.” Bielema expressed.
Bielema inherits an offensive line that must face the transition from a pass-heavy offensive style to one that utilizes a physical downhill running game.  The hire of another former Tennessee assistant, Sam Pittman, to coach the offensive line should help ease the transition of styles. 
Pittman coached 2013 NFL first round draft pick Jonathan Cooper at North Carolina and current All-SEC candidates, tackles Ja’Wuan James and Antonio “Tiny” Richardson, while at Tennessee.   
Swanson is the veteran of the line and recognizes the difference that Pittman’s presence has made already among the offensive linemen. 
“He’ll tell you to do the slightest things,” Swanson said.  “He’s a master of his craft and it shows.”
Arkansas may be the toughest SEC team to figure out entering 2013.  The questions surrounding how Bielema’s offense will look and whether it will be effective against SEC defenses will continued to be asked until the season kicks off and results follow. 
“We’re going to do what we do and we’re going to force teams to stop it,” Small said. 

Anthony Richards – Anthony was born and raised in Jacksonville, Fla. and currently attends the University of North Florida. He is a sports journalist, with a particular passion for college football in the south and the atmosphere that surrounds it. He enjoys the classic southern combination of Bar-B-Q and a large glass of sweet tea. You can reach Anthony at [email protected].

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