Bielema, SEC laud Arkansas offensive linemen

Bielema, SEC laud Arkansas offensive linemen


Bielema, SEC laud Arkansas offensive linemen


Arkansas guard Sebastian Tretola (73) in action against the Texas A&M Aggies at AT&T Stadium.

Arkansas guard Sebastian Tretola (73) in action against the Texas A&M Aggies at AT&T Stadium.

FAYETTEVILLE — For his part in run-blocking and pass-protecting as the Arkansas Razorbacks’ balanced, 494-yard attack trumped SEC rival Tennessee, 24-20, last Saturday night in Knoxville, Tenn., senior left offensive guard Sebastian Tretola was named SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week Monday by the SEC Office in Birmingham, Ala.

Naturally, Arkansas coach Bret Bielema is pleased by the SEC’s choice. Still, as good as Tretola played, the coach confessed Tretola wasn’t Arkansas’ best offensive linemen against the Tennessee Volunteers.

“I love Sebastian and I thought Denver (Kirkland, the junior left tackle) played really well,” Bielema said during his Monday press conference. “But (senior center) Mitch Smothers to me is the guy who played at another level that I haven’t seen before. Mitch Smothers probably played the best game of his career since I have been here. Not that he has played bad, but he was on point.”

And not resting on his laurels.

“I had a conversation in my office this morning at 6:05 with coach Pittman and around the corner came Mitch Smothers to get film work at 6 in the morning,” Bielema said. “That shows you where his mind is.”

Tretola, the 6-foot-5, formerly 380-something pounder upon last year transferring from Iowa Western Community College after first playing for the University of Nevada, has slimmed into the 320s and fattened the the already outstanding reputation he established as a starter last season. Bielema said Tretola has consistently graded in the high 90s and graded that highly again after offensive line coach Sam Pittman reviewed the Arkansas vs. Tennessee film.

“Sebastian — I have been around some really good linemen, man,” Bielema said. He is a big body that has lost 60 pounds and he is playing as complete a football as anybody I have ever had in the interior line.”

Right offensive guard Frank Ragnow who played through an injury against Tennessee, is not scheduled to practice Tuesday, Bielema said Monday, but should practice midweek and is expected to play against Alabama, Bielema said.

Junior Josh Williams, Arkansas’ strongside Sam linebacker who since transferring to Arkansas as a sophomore out of junior college also has played the middle Mike linebacker and weakside Will linebacker, underwent surgery Sunday to repair the leg he broke during the Tennessee game.

Starting with the Razorbacks 2-3, 1-1 in the SEC West, visiting the nationally No. 8 reigning SEC champion Alabama Crimson Tide Saturday night (6 p.m. on ESPN) in Tuscaloosa, Williams will miss the remainder of the 2015.

Williams this season has played too many games to qualify for redshirting and will be a senior for 2016.

Sophomores Dwayne Eugene and Khalia Hackett now run one-two at Sam ’backer, a position often swapped for a nickel back against Spread formation teams but apt for greater use against the running Tide led by Derrick Henry, 93 carries for 570 yards, nine touchdowns and a 6.1 average, and Kenyan Drake, 43 carries for 215 yards and a 5.0 average.

Bielema, defensive coordinator Robb Smith and linebackers coach Vernon Hargreaves will consider strongside options possibly even junior Brooks Ellis, a five-game starter this season at either Mike or Will but now at Mike with freshman Dre Greenlaw from the weakside leading the team in tackles the last two games.

“Dwayne Eugene has a chance,” Bielema said. “Hackett might be involved in that mix a little bit. Obviously Brooks has played there as well. If we do something with him we would have to back him up with Josh (Harris) at the Mike. We’ll just see how it plays out this week.”

Bielema announced his best players after a victory awards Monday.

They included junior running back Alex Collins, 25 carries for 154 yards and two touchdowns and junior receiver Drew Morgan, five catches for 110 yards as Co-Offensive Players of the Game with honorable mentions to senior quarterback Brandon Allen, junior tight end Hunter Henry and “the left side of the offensive line,” Bielema said.

Third-year sophomore defensive end Tevin Beanum of Forrest City a fumble recovery, and a quarterback sack and another lost-yardage tackle among five stops, excelled for the second consecutive game.

“Tevin is one of those guys thats getting better for us every week,” defensive coordinator Robb Smith said. “He’s given us more and more each week from a pass rush standpoint. He also did an excellent job, in terms of stopping the run this week as well. And starting to become more of a complete player for us. And I think Coach B mentioned he was our defensive player of the week and well earned. He did a great job in all aspects of the game for us executing the defensive game plan.”

Punter Toby Baker got Bielema’s Special Teams Player of the Week. On the scout team for their efforts portraying Tennessee, Bielema cited Colton Jackson, the redshirting freshman offensive lineman from Conway, redshirting freshman receiver Deon Stewart of Hardy and junior defensive back Scotty Thurman Jr. of Fayetteville.


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