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Hog Rookies Making Their Mark

Bret Bielema is high on the future of Hog football after adding two more freshmen to the starting lineup.
Fayetteville--Add Dan Skipper and Denver Kirkland to the growing number of freshmen contributors to the Hog football team this season. Recruited as offensive tackles they were inserted into the starting lineup as guards for the Texas A&M game.

"We'd seen 'em in practice and they'd done a nice job. We needed to shake it up a bit, we felt like after the Rutgers game, so we thought we'd put them in there and see how they'd play," Hogs offensive line coach Sam Pittman explained.

They're both are extremely large, they're physical, they're athletic and played with a lot of energy," head coach Bret Bielema added.

Skipper and Kirkland were part of a group of underclassmen singled out by Bielema as he reflected on positives of Arkansas' 45-33 loss to the No. 10 Aggies.

"Saturday night, I had a hard time sleeping," Bielema recalled. "What I found myself going to, all the positive things. Brandon Allen is a sophomore quarterback whose got a lot of great things in front of him. He's got two freshman guards in front of him, a true freshman at tailback behind him and a sophomore behind him and a tight end that is going to set records here. Those are four or five really good players who are freshmen and sophomores."

What did the head coach see in Allen as he returned to the field after sitting out the Rutgers game with a shoulder injury?

"I saw a feisty, aggressive, angry, competitive young man Saturday night that can win a lot of football games," Bielema answered.

Arkansas' tight end "that is going to set records" had 109 yards in catches against the Aggies all but matching A&M stud receiver Mike Evans in the game. Hunter Henry is just a tick behind Hogs senior wide receiver Javontee Herndon in overall catches through five games.

Razorback fans would like to see more of Henry but Bielema used his Monday press conference to remind them that number 84 is still a true freshmen, telling reporters, "We just have to be careful we don't gas him. You forget he's a freshman. He looks like a man when he's in that uniform but when he takes that helmet off he looks like he's 15 and you can't lose sight of that."

Redshirt freshman  Deatrich Wise made his presence felt on the defensive side of the ball as one of the few Arkansas linemen able to track down Aggie's quarterback Johnny Manziel. Beilema liked Wise's enthusiasm but did not appreciate the various gyrations he displayed after bringing down the current Heisman winner. At one point Wise had to be corralled by senior defensive end Chris Smith and sent back to the defensive side of the ball as the Aggies prepared to run the next play.

"When you're playing a no huddle offense, you make a big play and you spend five seconds high-fiving each other that's five seconds that you're not getting lined up in. I would be surprised if you see that out of 48 again," Bielema announced.

Wize wasn't the only player to draw criticism from the head coach who said he had to deal with a discipline problem prior the the A&M game. "There was a guy who was late for a Thursday lift. There was a guy late the Friday before when we went to Rutgers," Bielema revealed. "I'm a big, big believer in what happens off the field carries over directly to what happens on the field. We've already demoted some guys and took some guys out of game plans 'cause they weren't able to handle their business away from the field. I'm not going to put up with it."

Both Bielema and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said that Allen showed no ill effects in Sunday's practice from the 36 passes he put up against the Aggies.

"I'm sure he's a little tender like everybody is after a game but I didn't notice anything substantial with him," Chaney told the Razorback Nation.

"He should be full go with us this week at practice," Bielema added.

Looking ahead to Saturday's trip to No. Florida 18 Florida Bielema said," I told our guys after the game, we're not there yet but climbing the mountain has been a lot of fun and when we get to the top it's going to be really fun to know what you did. I'm not saying it's going to come this week but I have a strong belief that they're going to play better and to do it on the road in SEC play is a lot of fun."

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