LITTLE ROCK — Questions about the first Razorback spring practice under Bret Bielema are all over the place; the answers are consistently uninformative.
As the investor in his baby bed with the smart phone says in the commercial, "Nobody knows …"
How will Bielema and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney sort out the quarterbacks and how will the two men meld their philosophy to dovetail with the available talent?
Cue the kid.
How will defensive coordinator Chris Ash approach the variety of offenses that percolate in the Southeastern Conference?
"Nobody knows …"
Which players will move to another position?
Who is No. 1 at running back?
Where do the new junior college players fit?
Whatever Bielema and his staff have in mind, there is no pre-spring sharing, not even a depth chart to use as a baseline. Essentially, every player has a clean slate. Forget the good and bad from 2012. From a redshirt freshman to a three-year starter, the playing field is level — a perfect cure for complacency.
Although there are three practices this week, we won’t know anything until Bielema provides an update on Friday. All practices prior to the Red-White game on April 20 are closed to the public and only three practices will be open to the media.
As for what the coaches are thinking, the only points of reference are previously reported statements.
For instance, when Chaney was hired, Bielema said Chaney’s approach "will blend well with my ideas as we work to put together a plan for the team we have and over time develop our specific philosophy."
Chaney has dabbled with the pro-style offense, spread and triple option. He has said a team can win a lot of games with the spread but also mentioned being multiple, physical and balanced, and being "able to run the football when you need to."
That leaves lots of room to tinker.
Online, there is an in-depth interview Ash did in the fall of 2011 concerning his counter to various formations. Much of it is deep inside football, but he ended one answer with this: "Everything we do depends on whether the QB is a running threat. … If the QB is a running threat, it changes the game completely."
Without a depth chart, the starting lineup in the season finale against LSU is as good as anything as a jumping off point.
That day, the starting offensive line included seniors Tyler Deacon and Jason Peacock, plus Alvin Bailey, who left early for the NFL draft. Brey Cook started at tackle against the Tigers, but he was in and out of the lineup during the year. Several others played some, so the offensive line could be a slew of new.
Bielema expects the junior college players to contribute immediately, so include John McClure in O-line speculation. Also toss in Cordale Boyd, a redshirt freshman who chose Arkansas over Stanford, Miami and Auburn.
Other redshirt freshmen will be involved, including defensive ends JaMichael Winston, Brandon Lewis and Taiwan Johnson, plus defensive tackle Darius Philon and cornerback Jared Collins. Also, an end or two could move inside.
Underclassmen who started on offense vs. LSU include wide receiver Mekale McKay, tight end Austin Tate and running back Jonathan Williams. If Brandon Mitchell doesn’t work out at quarterback, he will be back at wide receiver. With Cobi Hamilton gone, wide receivers Keon Hatcher and D’Arthur Cowan are players to watch.
Back and forth between running back and defense last year, Nate Holmes’ speed may be best used on offense.
At the back of the defense vs. LSU were freshmen linebackers A.J. Turner and Otha Peters, plus young defensive backs Rohan Gaines, Will Hines and Tevin Mitchel. I’m betting JC transfers Carroll Washington and Tiquention Coleman show up quickly in the secondary and that Myke Tavarres is involved at linebacker.
Names to be learned may outnumber questions. This is going to take a while.
Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.