1. Bielema on Marshall
1. Bielema on Marshall
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said there’s nothing Korliss Marshall can do to shorten the length of his suspension, which will continue when the Razorbacks (3-4, 0-4 in SEC) play Alabama-Birmingham (4-3, 2-2 in Conference-USA) on Saturday.
But he wants the sophomore to use the experience as a life lesson.
"I told Korliss, this is just a chapter in your life," Bielema said. "It’s a small chapter in the book of your life. Let’s make the ending something to be positive. Just live this chapter out, ride it to closure and move on to the next one."
Bielema has not revealed the exact reason for Marshall’s absence, which will span three or four games, since last Saturday. Bielema did say Wednesday the suspension was in "accordance with university policies," though.
Marshall, who entered the season as part of Arkansas’ three-back rotation, rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown and also scored on a 97-yard kickoff return in five games this season. He did not play against Nicholls State on Sept. 6.
Bielema said Marshall did take part in a workout Tuesday, but is not practicing with the team. Bielema added Marshall has "made a strong resurgence" academically and the Razorbacks will continue to monitor his progress in all areas.
Bielema – who said he is meeting with Marshall twice a week — said a lot of people are "rallying around" the running back through his suspension.
"When he’s eligible to come back and be a part of this football team, if he adheres to the structures that we have in place for him, not only me as the head football coach, but the university in general, that’s when he’ll resume back with the team," Bielema said. "We continue to monitor his progress to make sure he’s on the right path.
"Hopefully he’ll have success for a long time after this as a result."
2. Ellis ‘Very Good’
Arkansas linebacker Brooks Ellis continues to improve from the knee injury that kept him out of Saturday’s game against Georgia. In fact, the sophomore is making enough progress for Bielema to say he could be back on the field Saturday.
"I think the chances of him playing Saturday are very, very good," Bielema said. "But his chances of being back with us the week after that are excellent. He should be ahead of schedule regardless of when that happens."
Sophomore Josh Williams started in Ellis’ place last Saturday and finished with 14 tackles. Defensive coordinator Robb Smith said he did an "admirable job."
"The more he plays, the better we think he’ll get," Smith said. "We’ve got to keep pushing him forward. He needed to get better and I think he’s on that track."
Williams will start again if Ellis remains unavailable for the UAB game. But Bielema is optimistic after Ellis ran for the first time since the injury on Monday.
"(Tuesday) he expanded that to running without any assistance," Bielema said. "Ran very, very well. (Wednesday) we’re going to take him out and do movements and different things that would simulate what he would do on Saturday."
3. Message Received
Bielema said Monday the Razorbacks were considering a change at punter after senior Sam Irwin-Hill struggled against the Bulldogs.
He said Wednesday that Irwin-Hill has gotten the message.
"He proceeded to hit the ball, I believe five times (Tuesday) with over 5.0 hang time and over 45 yards," Bielema said. "So I think the message got across and now he needs to carry it into the game this Saturday and hopefully we’ll hit a happy spot."
Irwin-Hill — who had a 51-yard touchdown run against Texas A&M — averaged just 33 yards on his three attempts against the Bulldogs. Bielema said part of the problem may have been the fact Irwin-Hill has expanded his role this season.
"I was allowing that to happen," Bielema said. "But to me we lost the focus on what he does well. I just tell the guys everyday in practice, I just need you to be the good you that you are. He hasn’t been punting the ball as effectively as we wanted."
Special teams coordinator Rory Segrest said Wednesday night Arkansas hasn’t decided who will punt Saturday. It will be Irwin-Hill or sophomore Toby Baker.
4. Extra Points
• Former Arkansas offensive lineman Brandon Burlsworth (1995-98) and coach Danny Ford (1993-97) have been placed on the ballot for the 2015 College Football Hall of Fame. The two are among 75 players and six coaches from the Football Bowl Subdivision on the 2015 ballot. The 2015 College Hall of Fame class will be announced on Jan. 9 in Arlington, Texas, at the site of the national title game.
• Bielema said tight end A.J. Derby reminds him of another former player who made a successful position switch. Former NFL star Dallas Clark played linebacker at Iowa when Bielema was his position coach, but moved to tight end and went on to have a long NFL career. "When Kirk Ferentz showed up, we switched him to tight end and the rest is history," Bielema said. "AJ reminds me a lot of that. I’m not saying he’s Dallas Clark, but his ability and transition has been uncanny."