The Arkansas offensive line has endured its share of problems this season.
The run game has struggled to find its footing behind the starting five, averaging less than 100 yards a game. Pass protection has been shaky at best. It’s disappointing for everyone involved - especially the guys up front.
Guard Alvin Bailey is one of them. The junior, who is in his third season as a starter, spoke with the media after Tuesday’s practice about the frustrating start for the offensive line. It was one of several topics he covered in this week’s Q&A:
Q: It has been a tough three weeks. How are you guys doing?
A: “Everybody is staying positive. We’re sticking together. We’re weathering the storm right now. A lot of us older guys, we’re used to winning and that’s something we plan on getting back to soon. Everybody is sticking together and we’ve still got one goal and that’s winning as many games as we can.”
Q: The run game has had obvious problems. What is going wrong and how can you fix it?
A: “That’s the main thing we’re trying to work on right now is taking what we do on the practice field and bringing it to the game. We go out every day and we run drills hard and we hit in practice hard. Right now we’re having trouble when it comes to game situations and doing the same thing. That’s the main thing we’re trying to do is muscle memory, getting all the technique and stuff down. Sometimes we’ll be close. It will be one thing, one man, wrong step or hand placement or something like that. We’re working hard to get this together.”
Q: How frustrating was that series in the first half last week when you had third- and fourth-and-short and couldn’t convert?
A: “That was my fault. My man beat me. That was real frustrating. I hold myself up to a higher standard. I let my teammates down that play. That’s part of the game. But we like to pride ourselves on getting third- and fourth-and-shorts. It was disappointing, but you’ve got to go on to the next play and finish the game.”
Q: Knile Davis hasn’t had the start anyone expected. How is he doing?
A: “He’s doing good. He still comes out every day and works hard. It’s tough coming back off of injury. It’s his first time playing in awhile. He’ll get back to himself. We’re four games in. We’ve still got eight more. We’ve still got a long ways to go.”
Q: What is the difference right now when Knile and Dennis Johnson run the ball?
A: “Just the opportunity when each other is in the game. At certain point in times the blocking may be better or it might just be the scheme at that point in time. Both of them are great running backs and we need both of them both to run the ball well.”
Q: What kind of challenge will you see with Texas A&M’s defensive front?
A: “The front is the strength of their team. They like to get their hands in the ground and get after the quarterback. They run some stunts and blitzes and things like that. So that is going to be the key to beat them up front this week.”
Q: Are you guys excited to go on the road?
A: “There’s definitely excitement. We live to fight another day. We don’t look at it as a chance for an upset. We’re going to play a football game. So we’re very excited.”
Q: You’ve had their number. What do you think about going to their place this year?
A: “That’s part of the game. It doesn’t matter where we play them. Here, there, it’s a football game.”
Q: Do you get the feeling they’re gunning for you because of the success you’ve had?
A: “Definitely. It’s a good game every year we meet up. We know they’re going to give us their best and we’re going to give them ours.”