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Andy Hodges

Will Bielema actually use offense that works best?

Arkansas’ offense has worked better in the no-huddle style with some tempo, but will Bielema go to it or stick with an out-dated style that isn’t working.



The last two years it’s appeared from this angle that spreading things out and flinging the ball around was when Arkansas’ offense worked.

Which was why it was a mystery when Bret Bielema keeps talking about “doing what we do” and all that stuff.

It’s clear Bielema doesn’t have either the personnel or the coaches to do what he does.

When Arkansas went with the up-tempo offense, they were able to at least move the ball a little on Alabama last week. They’ve scored doing it at times this season, particularly in the red zone against Texas A&M.

The question then was why they didn’t do it more often?

For a coach that sounds at times like he’s about three decades behind, it’s a positive move for Bielema. He actually noted it during his press conference Monday.

“Going back to the spring we’ve had a tempo system in place for Austin (Allen),” he said. “We thought we had a fifth-year senior quarterback and a fifth-year senior center that are in charge of all your communication, so we started practicing a phase of our game that we refer to as an up-tempo phase. Looks like two-minute to the outside observer, but we’ve been practicing all the way from last spring.”

They’ve had it in every game this year, Bielema said, and he added it gave Kelley the entire offense, but with some tempo.

Then he refused to really commit much to it.

“For our offense, defense, special teams to work together our huddle system is something we’ll definitely use,” he said.

Uh, Bret, that ain’t working, buddy. Since I don’t think Bielema is a completely blind idiot he has to notice that teams still using the old football social system of a huddle ain’t exactly competing for many championships.

In the brief three-year existence of the College Football Playoff, the only teams that have made it using what Bielema calls a “huddle system” were Alabama in 2014 and Michigan State in 2015.

That’s it.

Both were stomped into early submission by teams running a no-huddle offense that varied the tempo. Out of the 12 teams in the playoff, only two (or 16.67 percent) of the teams just to make it to the playoff used a huddle system.

Quite frankly, the football huddle is the oldest social gathering in all of college football. The huddle has become a fond relic of the past along with square-toed kicking shoes and plastic face masks.

It doesn’t mean you have to go fast. It doesn’t mean you can’t run the football.

Surely Bielema knows this. He’ll also, I’m sure, notice the improved efficiency of his team offensively against the No. 1 team in the nation using it.

The flip side is Bielema can stick with his huddle system. If this season doesn’t improve, then it’s a fair guess changes will be required in the offseason.

That’s the job of the athletics director to insist upon after consulting with his experts, which is certain to happen, regardless of what happens the rest of the way. Let’s face it, unless this team wins every game left on the schedule, it will be another year of tire-spinning or going backwards.

Of course, Bielema could stick with his “huddle system.”

There is about, oh, one other team in the SEC using a huddle and that’s LSU. Even Georgia doesn’t, except on the rare occasion when it resembles more teenage guys having a quick decision on who’s got the fake ID to go into the liquor store.

In case you’re not aware, the Bulldogs are undefeated and may be the closest thing to Alabama in Kirby Smart’s second year as the coach.

It’s also interesting to note he’s doing this with Bielema’s former offensive line coach (Sam Pittman) and offensive coordinator (Jim Chaney) who are doing the same jobs in Athens they did in Fayetteville.

He’s quite aware, I’m sure, of the fate of the last coach at LSU who stubbornly stuck to his “huddle system” with a fullback, tight end, boring style.

Les Miles got fired making a lot of the same comments Bielema makes.

And he got fired winning 77 percent of the games he coached (as opposed to Bielema’s 47 percent) and 69 percent in the SEC (Bielema is at 28 percent).

The primary reason? A boring offense nobody thought was going to keep working with talent better than anything Bielema will ever get.

We’ll see if Bielema uses what works best.

Or sticks with his “system,” which isn’t working that well.

It’s kinda like what Bear Bryant told an old friend who asked him why he switched from his pro-style offense to the wishbone in the early 1970’s, which was as revolutionary to many as the spread offense is to some today.

“A wise man changes his mind,” Bryant growled. “A fool never does.”


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