FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas running back Alex Collins has turned in plenty of impressive performances in his 18 games with the Razorbacks.

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas running back Alex Collins has turned in plenty of impressive performances in his 18 games with the Razorbacks.


But there’s no doubt Saturday’s 14-13 loss to Alabama has been his worst.


Collins, who entered the game leading the SEC in rushing yards, was suspended for the first quarter and couldn’t make an impact when he stepped on the field. The sophomore finished with a career-low 13 yards on 6 carries. He also lost a fumble on his second carry, which led to Alabama’s first touchdown.


Arkansas coach Bret Bielema believes the struggles began when Collins had some minor missteps off the field. And it proved costly against the Crimson Tide.


"Alex had been extremely good. And still to this day he’s been good all year in the classroom," Bielema said Monday. "He had a bad stretch there, and when that shows up, it’s bad for everybody. By far, he probably had his worst performance on Saturday, and it was almost kind of like one of those situations where you see coming. As a head coach, I knew it was coming."


Bielema called Collins into the coach’s locker room before Saturday’s game to let the sophomore know he had been suspended for the first quarter after missing two workouts over the past two weeks. Bielema said Collins knew beforehand he wasn’t going to get as much playing time as usual, but it was the first time he was aware of the suspension. Bielema had told other running backs to prepare for more work.


Collins’ first misstep came when he missed an early-morning workout in the weight room on the Friday of the off week. He missed another one six days later.


Bielema said it was "voluntary" in nature, but Collins had committed to being there at a certain time for the weight-lifting session every other week this season.


"He had a big test at 11," Bielema said. "He was actually in our academic center at 8 a.m. But all he’s got to do is communicate and everyone else is going to be all right."


Collins watched teammates Jonathan Williams and Korliss Marshall handle the carries in the backfield in the first quarter. He was on the field for the first play of the second quarter, but lost the ball on his second attempt.


It was that kind of day for Collins, who had run for 621 yards and 6 touchdowns through five games, and the run game. His longest carry was six yards and the struggles played a hand in the Razorbacks’ rushing woes against Alabama.


Arkansas entered the game ranked first in the nation in rushing touchdowns (20), fourth in yards per carry (6.9) and sixth in rushing offense (316.6). But the Razorbacks finished with 89 yards — just five in the second half — on 39 attempts.


It was Arkansas’ lowest rushing total under Bielema.


"I couldn’t ever get the run game established," Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said Sunday night. "They were doing a heck of a job with that. We couldn’t get anything rolling that way. So they kind of made us one-dimensional a little bit.


"As the game went on I just never felt comfortable getting behind the run game and that’s tough on us when we find ourselves in that position."


Collins wasn’t available for comment after the game, but accepted responsibility for the suspension on social media. He posted a photo on Instagram and wrote "I can’t do nothing but blame myself and keep moving forward. On to Georgia."


Bielema said Collins has responded well since Saturday.


"I talked to a lot of people in his life that are trying to help him through these situations, and he’s been very, very positive since that point," Bielema said. "The whole thing we’ve just got to do is growth. He hasn’t done anything wrong."


Collins is expected to resume his role in the backfield with Williams and Marshall as the Razorbacks prepare for Saturday’s game against the Bulldogs. Once again, the Razorbacks will face a run defense that hasn’t allowed much production this season.


Georgia, which is coming off a 34-0 win at Missouri, is 12th in the NCAA in rushing defense (101.7 yards a game). The Bulldogs allowed 50 rushing yards last week.


So Bielema said Arkansas needs Collins to move forward this week.


"The kid needs to learn to be on time," Bielema said. "I want him to have success after he leaves here One of my greatest joys in life is watching our guys have success beyond here, obviously in the real world. But when somebody asks is it any surprise what J.J. Watt does? No. It’s what we did when we had him. Is it any surprise to Monte Ball, Russell Wilson, James White, Travis Frederick, Peter (Konz)? It’s not a surprise because we held them to a standard that set them up for success.


"Until the kids see that full-scale here, they’re going to stub their toe. Hopefully, this last one will put him over the top because we’re a better team when he’s in there."