Arkansas running back Alex Collins helped the Razorbacks avoid disaster last Saturday, leading a fourth quarter comeback during the 31-21 win against Samford.
The Southeastern Conference recognized the freshman for his efforts Monday.
Collins was named the SEC Freshman of the Week after rushing for 172 yards and a touchdown against Samford. It was his second straight 100-yard performance.
“Alex has done a nice job,” Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said. “He’s doing what we’re asking him to do. He’s a talented young man. We knew that when he got here and he’s demonstrating that.”
Collins is the first Arkansas freshman to top the 100-yard mark in each of his first two college games. He’s also the fourth freshman in school history to have multiple 100-yard games in his first season, joining a list that includes Darren McFadden (five in 2005), Felix Jones (two in 2005) and Matt Jones (two in 2001).
The Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., native leads the Southeastern Conference and is sixth in the nation in rushing yards a game (151.5 yards) after two weeks. He and teammate Jonathan Williams (12th in the NCAA in rushing with 138.5 yards a game) have helped Arkansas average an SEC best 312.5 rushing yards a game.
Bielema was upset with Collins after the game because of a celebration penalty he received after scoring the first touchdown of his career. Bielema said it wouldn’t happen again or else Collins “will not be here and playing with us.”
Bielema spoke with Collins about the penalty and said it was a “good conversation.”
“He’s a very, very warm kid,” Bielema said, explaining Collins’ reasoning for nearly jumping into the crowd to celebrate. “So he loves the crowd.
“I think he plays off the crowd very, very much.”
Bielema said Arkansas expects to have defensive end Trey Flowers back for today’s practice after the junior missed Saturday’s game with a knee injury. Starting linebacker Jarrett Lake is scheduled to return as well after serving a one-game suspension for an undisclosed reason against Samford.
Bielema said the third defensive starter to miss the Samford game — safety Rohan Gaines — also could be back on the practice field by midweek. Gaines missed the game after suffering a knee injury against Louisiana-Lafayette.
The Razorbacks could have two other injured players back by Saturday as well. Tight end Austin Tate and linebacker Otha Peters, who were injured in preseason camp, were scheduled for examinations today to determine their availability.
“Both will get X-rays (Monday) afternoon and doctors will make a judgment on whether or not they can return. They were in no-contact (work) last week. If they can get a little contact this week, there’s a chance both of those guys could play.”
Southern Miss coach Todd Monken said Monday he is impressed with Chaney’s ability to adapt at Arkansas.
“You talk about a guy that’s … I mean, he can change spots,” Monken said. “He’s a chameleon. Last year at Tennessee they were no huddle and throwing it around and had really good success. And this year he comes to work with (Bielema) and they’re running what they did at Wisconsin.”
Tennessee was ranked second in the SEC in passing in 2012, averaging 315.6 yards a game. Now he’s in charge of an offense on top of the SEC in rushing (312.5 yards).
“Smash-mouth, downhill, tight end, play-action pass, which I was around for many years (at LSU) and then in the NFL,” Monken said of Arkansas’ new identity. “Which is good football. When you watch them, they play good football.”
Kickoff time for the Arkansas/Rutgers game on Sept. 21 has been set for 2:30 p.m. The game will be televised by either ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU. The decision will made next week. … Safety Alan Turner, whose father passed away last Friday, will remain with the team all week. Bielema said the funeral for Turner’s father will be held next Monday. … Wide receiver Keon Hatcher did not factor into the Samford gameplan because of a hamstring injury suffered in the opener. Hatcher, who was slowed by a hamstring throughout preseason camp, has one catch for 27 yards through two games. … Bielema announced his Samford week most valuable players Monday: Fullback Kiero Small (offense), defensive tackle Robert Thomas (defense), placekicker Zach Hocker (special teams), wide receiver Scotty Thurman (offense scout team), cornerback Kevin Richardson (defense scout team) and linebacker Matt Reynolds (special teams scout team).