FAYETTEVILLE - Before discussing his Razorbacks at Wednesday’s press conference, Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema opened with his thoughts about Frank Broyles, Arkansas’ all-time winningest football coach during his 1958-76 Hall of Fame attaining tenure including the 1964 national championship and also a Hall of Fame Athletic Director during his 1973-2007 tenure that included moving the UA from the Southwest Conference to the SEC.
Broyles died Monday at 92 from Alzheimer Diseases complications.
Bielema had not had contact with Broyles, then athletic director emeritus, until Bielema came from Wisconsin to take the Razorbacks’ job in December, 2012, but said he had been influenced by him because when he played at the University of Iowa his coach, Hayden Fry, was so influenced by Broyles during Fry’s tenure as an Arkansas assistant.
Bielema said he was honored that the Broyles family invited him to come by Saturday night on the final weekend of Frank Broyles’ life.
“I’m forever grateful for everything he did before I got here,” Bielema said. “One of the only regrets I would say is getting here where it wasn't at the best part of his lifetime. One of the best memories was Sean Rochelle, when he was still the active director over at the Razorbacks Foundation, called me one morning. and said Coach was having a good day. I went over and had lunch and sat there for about an hour and he shared some thoughts and some ideas with me at that time. And just the crossover I had with him and Coach Fry was pretty cool. Monday we got the news and Wwe had a moment of silence with our team. My staff and I will be at the celebration of his life on Saturday. Our thoughts and prayers continue with him and the family and everybody he affected.”
A public is invited memorial for Frank Broyles is set at 2 p.m. Saturday at Walton Arena.
Though not a full scrimmage, Bielema says full-scrimmaging is done before the season-opener Aug. 31 against Florida A&M at 7 p.m. in Little Rock, the Razorbacks were set to follow Wednesday’s closed practice with their heaviest contact practice of the week in today’s closed practice.
Bielema and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Dan Enos continue focusing on the apparently dead heat battle for backup quarterback between third-year sophomore Ty Storey of Charleston and redshirt freshman Cole Kelley of Lafayette, La. behind senior starter Austin Allen of Fayetteville.
Allen, the 2016 SEC passing leader with 3,430 yards, is the unquestioned starter and named Monday to the watch list of the Manning Award. Allen already adorns watch lists for the Maxwell, Davy O’Brien and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm awards.
But the No. 2 spot has been as wide open as the starting job is sealed.
“ I want to really stress Cole and Ty Storey,” Bielema said. “Just get them as much work as we possibly can because we've got to make a decision on who that 2 guy is and get them reps moving forward. They've been battling it out, going back and forth.”
Because he was removed from the preseason 105 man roster when his back ailed, senior receiver Jared Cornelius can’t practice until Monday’s start of UA classes expands the roster. However if he was eligible to practice this week, Cornelius would be physically able to participate, Bielema said.
Cornelius still would have a full week plus a couple of days of practice better the Aug. 31 season opener in Little Rock and would seem especially geared to return by the season’s second game against the TCU Horned Frogs at 4 p.m. Sept. 9 in Fayetteville.
Cornelius’s absence enabled receivers coach Michael Smith extensively to practice a young receiving corps.
One of the rookies, true freshman Koilan Jackson of Pulaski Joe T. Robinson, will be with the varsity against Florida A&M, Bielema said.
True freshman running back Chase Hayden, the fastest of 3-man running backs rotation that Bielema calls 1A, 1B and 1C with sophomore Devwah Whaley, senior University of South Carolina graduate transfer David Williams and Hayden, obviously is set to play in the season opener.
Surprisingly, considering he is a blueshirt, meaning he arrived as a walk-on with a scholarship presumably available in the future, true freshman offensive tackle Ty Clary is in the varsity mix. On defense as a varsity reserve is another blueshirt, true freshman outside linebacker Hayden Henry of Little Rock, a Pulaski Academy alum and younger brother of former Razorbacks All-American and Mackey Award winning tight end Hunter Henry.
Bielema said scholarship true freshman cornerbacks Chevin Calloway and Kamren Curl are in the backup mix behind starting corners Ryan Pulley and Henre Toliver.
After third-year sophomore receiver La’Michael Pettway responded with superb practices following Bielema publicly dissatisfaction with him following the opening week of preseason drills, Bielema took the same tack with redshirt freshman receiver Jordan Jones of Smackover.
Jones was the sensation of the early preseason practices but Bielema chided after last Saturday’s scrimmage that “Jordan Jones he has got to decide to grow up. I got after him.”
The coach sang a more favorable Wednesday tune.
“Jordan Jones has continued to make strides,” Bielema said. “ I think he just continues to grasp the offense better and better each day. We know physically he's had a play or two every day where you're just like 'Wow!' If you ask our secondary guys that's the guy they'd probably say they fear the most.”