FAYETTEVILLE — During Wednesday’s SEC Coaches teleconference, Bret Bielema was asked the biggest issue concerning off his Razorbacks, losing their SEC opener.
Arkansas fell, 45-24, to Texas A&M last Saturday night at the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium and preps now for Saturday’s 11 a.m. SEC Network Alternate Channel televised nonconference game against the Alcorn State Braves in Little Rock.
"As you build a level of respect in your program to the program itself and the outside world when you have success it’s very rewarding," Bielema said of 3-1 still Top 25 Razorbacks at No. 20. "But when you have failure it’s very disappointing. I definitely saw disappointment in our players’ eyes and our coaches and our fans and everybody from administration. It’s one of those things that we were looking at a 17-17 game. We left two touchdowns on the field, two scoring opportunities on the field and couldn’t convert it. They hit a big play and it kind of overwhelmed us for about five to six minutes and we can’t allow that to happen."
After mounting a 98-yard drive lost on downs after achieving first and goal from the 2, the Razorbacks were zinged by quarterback Trevor Knight’s 92-yard touchdown pass and "unwound," Bielema said.
"It was still a very winnable game," Bielema said. "We had some things go wrong but we have to learn from it. The worst travesty that we can have happen is we didn’t bring that defeat home with us, we try to leave it there in Dallas. I told our guys we have to own it and embrace it as coaches and players and hopefully it will reward us in the future."
Bielema said there is much to build on from Arkansas’ loss to the now AP ninth-ranked Aggies.
"Obviously disappointed in the outcome of Saturday night in Dallas," Bielema said. "But I thought our guys showed a lot of good. We just didn’t do enough to win. Give credit to A&M, they did. I think a very complete football team."
The Razorbacks host THE complete team of the SEC, reigning national/SEC nationally No. 1 Alabama on Oct. 8 at Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
Meanwhile Bielema focuses the Hogs on traveling to War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock where they are 1-5 since 2012 and 1-3 since Bielema’s 2013 arrival.
"As we move into this week we have a game in Little Rock that means a lot to our program and a lot to our players and our state," Bielema said. "These opportunities are fewer and fewer but I think it’s one I think our players will take full advantage of."
During the postgame of last year’s 16-12 upset loss to Toledo in Little Rock, Bielema called the defeat "embarrassing" and was asked about that Wednesday.
"Postgames you always are feeling heavier in heart than at any time in the course of a week," Bielema said. "When you are trying to build a program and you have a setback it really, really hurts. But we don’t really use it as a motivating factor. Toledo did more to earn it than we did at critical moments. I do think this week our guys will have a natural recall because they are going back to Little Rock. But they want to have success for one reason they want to be a successful football team."
With the UA investing at least $160 million to close the north end of Reynolds Razorbacks Stadium with luxury seating among other things in a project that will demolish the Broyles Athletic Center then build another one, there has been considerable conjecture if the Razorbacks will continue playing an annual game in Little Rock once the contract expires after a SEC game there in 2018.
"The conversation about whether we play or not play is way above my pay grade and also above our players," Bielema said. "We just embrace the opportunity to play before a great group of fans that will be fired up whether we play at 11 a.m. or 11 p.m. The ones that will be there will be ready to rock and roll and hopefully we will be ready to play at a level that’s deserving. Obviously the history of Little Rock and what it means is very, very important."