FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas’ ground game was dominant at Texas Tech, rolling to 438 rushing yards in the 49-28 win.

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas’ ground game was dominant at Texas Tech, rolling to 438 rushing yards in the 49-28 win.


The defense played well, too, breaking up 11 passes, forcing three turnovers and limiting an explosive offense to four touchdowns.


Bielema was proud of both for their efforts in Lubbock, Texas. But he also told the Razorbacks their progress was evident in other important ways Sunday.


"I said the two things that showed me where this team is at and where this team can go have nothing to do with X’s and O’s," Bielema said. "It has nothing to do with a play call directly. It has all to do with your responses to two different scenarios."


Arkansas, which had trouble dealing with adversity in 2013, showed much more poise in working through two critical mistakes in the first half last Saturday. Bielema believes the two plays — and Arkansas’ response — were much-needed indications things are different this season as the Razorbacks (2-1) prepare for the next test against Northern Illinois (3-0) on Saturday.


"I think they really embrace what Coach B says. We’ve got a 1-0 mentality," Arkansas defensive coordinator Robb Smith said. "We certainly had that all day (Saturday). We didn’t worry about what had happened before. We just kind of kept focusing on the next moment and kept playing the next play."


The first test came immediately after a good start on defense was wiped out.


Texas Tech was forced to punt after three plays, which included two broken up passes by senior cornerback Tevin Mitchel, on its opening possession. But the kick glanced off cornerback Jared Collins downfield and was recovered by the Red Raiders. Texas Tech scored three plays later take a 7-0 lead.


Arkansas’ offense couldn’t respond on the next possession, but the defense took the lead. Linebacker Brooks Ellis forced a fumble on Texas Tech’s next possession and defensive tackle Taiwan Johnson recovered the loose ball. Running back Jonathan Williams scored two plays later to tie the game at 7-7.


"We’re a family and we’re always there for each other," Arkansas running back Alex Collins said. "Any time something bad happened in the game, both sides of the ball, we go, ‘Pick your head up guys. Let’s keep pushing through it.’ Any time a negative play happened, we were there for each other, picking each other up."


The next delicate moment came late in the half when an Arkansas drive ended in the red zone with botched trick play. Collins was hit as he tried to pitch the ball to receiver Keon Hatcher. The fumble ruined a chance to break a 21-21 tie.


Bielema said the offense "looked like a morgue" when it came off the field, but it didn’t last. Coaches and players like quarterback Brandon Allen urged everyone to shake off the turnover because there was going to be another opportunity soon.


"I see BA," Bielema said. "I see some of our seniors get up. ‘This ain’t happening. We’re in control of this game. Our defense is going to get our ball back.’ They literally are spitting it out of their mouth and Martrell Spaight gets an interception."


Spaight picked off a pass from Davis Webb three plays after Arkansas’ turnover to give the offense another chance. Jonathan Williams scored on a 12-yard touchdown run the next play, giving Arkansas a 28-21 lead it wouldn’t relinquish.


"We gave him some heat on Sunday because he couldn’t get it in the end zone, but the best thing that happened, probably, was for him to get stopped on the, whatever, 13-yard line," Bielema said. "Then our offense had to go out there and punch it in."


The response was a far cry from last season, when the Razorbacks regularly buckled under pressure. Turnovers, penalties and other mistakes typically served as the breaking point for a team that lost nine straight games to end the season.


Bielema told his team before kickoff there were going to be moments that tested the Razorbacks on the road against the Red Raiders. But he urged his group to pick each other up during his pregame talk to the team. It finally happened Saturday.


"It’s all about working together," Allen said. "When one side doesn’t have it going, the other side is going to be there for them. … It goes both ways. It’s the brotherhood he’s talking about. Just picking your brother up when he’s not doing his part."


Arkansas accomplished it at Texas Tech and it led to a confidence-building win.


The Razorbacks believe it also was a sign they’ve turned the corner.


"It’s fun to see, to fly back on that plane and to watch my coaches and players and have an understanding of what you really just saw and witnessed was the results of what we have done," Bielema said. "I talk about our fifth Arkansas edge to be that you earn everything. I mean, you really felt and you could see it in our players’ eyes that they really felt they earned that by what they had accomplished."