LITTLE ROCK — Working out before 8 a.m. Monday, a regular at the neighborhood gym planned to complete his routine, clean up, and then hightail it downtown to grab a parking spot before the flood of people for Bret Bielema’s appearance at the Little Rock Touchdown Club.

LITTLE ROCK — Working out before 8 a.m. Monday, a regular at the neighborhood gym planned to complete his routine, clean up, and then hightail it downtown to grab a parking spot before the flood of people for Bret Bielema’s appearance at the Little Rock Touchdown Club.


"Upbeat," is what the man expected from the Arkansas coach and Bielema delivered. He also entertained the sellout crowd of more than 700 with humor and homespun stories, reviewed lessons learned during tough losses to Texas A&M, Alabama, and Mississippi State, and never missed a beat when his friend, country music singer Justin Moore, made a surprise appearance.


Moore, who grew up less than an hour southwest of Little Rock, got the crowd on its feet, by moving up a riser and referencing his 5-foot-7 frame with a "Let me stand up here you might see me" and then leading an enthusiastic "Woo Pig Sooie."


Bielema said Moore had agreed to sing with him on stage "as soon as we win a SEC championship" and later mentioned Brad Paisley’s free concert after the Toledo game in Little Rock, glancing at Moore while calling Paisley a "good country singer, but not a great one."


Club president David Bazzel set the table for Bielema, saying the Razorback program was in shambles when Bielema arrived and complimenting him for never throwing his players under the bus as the losses piled up.


Among the positives cited by Bielema:


—His assistants are the "best group of coaches I’ve had in a long time," mentioning offensive coordinator Dan Enos and defensive coordinator Robb Smith by name. This year alone, he added Enos, linebacker coach Vernon Hargreaves, and special teams coordinator/running backs coach Jemal Singleton.


—Fifth-year senior quarterback Brandon Allen should be better because "he has got a lot of really good players around him." This year, he said, Allen can throw the ball to the wide receivers and they "actually catch it."


—The players did unbelievable work under strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert and NFL scouts noticed, telling him the Razorbacks "look like an SEC football team." Thanks he told them, "Just leave them alone."


—Depth in the defensive line was the biggest surprise of fall practice. Arkansas had a good defensive line last year, he said, "it was called Trey Flowers and Darius Philon." This year, he said, there are four who can play and four behind them who can play.


—Not once in his snapshot of the cornerbacks, the safeties, and the linebackers was there a negative. In each group, he cited newcomers expected to contribute.


During a brief news conference prior to the program, Bielema shared some interesting math concerning distribution of the football in light of the season-ending injury to running back Jonathan Williams.


My quick assumption was that Alex Collins’ carries would increase. Not so, said Bielema. For the past two years, the plan has been for Collins to get 15-20 carries per game. "I don’t see that changing," the coach said.


Instead, he surmised that Kody Walker would split the load with Collins, much like Williams did, and would be eligible for 15-20 carries per game. In addition, he said freshman Rawleigh Williams could get 12-15 carries per game a few weeks into the season.


He surprised me when he told the TD Club crowd that there is no doubt in his mind that Walker can rush for 1,000 yards in Arkansas’ system.


Bielema’s analysis of touches is based on 80 plays a game, he said, adding that tight end Hunter Henry and wide receiver Keon Hatcher each deserve to be targeted for 10 passes per game and that Dominique Reed and other receivers should be in line for 6-10 passes per game.


Forty-five minutes before the doors opened, more than a dozen people were in line, all of them convinced Bielema is the right man for the job. Nothing he said changed their opinion.


Harry King is sports columnist for GateHouse Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. Email: hleonk42@gmail.com