The Bret Bielema era at Arkansas unofficially opened Saturday with the annual Red-White Game, with a crowd in excess of 50,000 on hand to watch as the Red (offense) defeated the White (defense), 34-27. Following the game, Bielema was happy with his team:
"Specifically today, we went ones against ones. I thought it was a great way to tell our kids it was about business. They responded really positively, I like the way things panned out in the first quarter. We had success on both sides of the football. Our number one offense got clicking at times with the right personnel; we converted a touchdown and some significant drives. I thought our best one was at the end of the half to walk out with a field goal and put points on the board."
Brandon Allen and Brandon Mitchell split snaps Saturday, though Allen took almost every snap with the first-team offense. Both quarterbacks posted nearly identical numbers: Allen went 11/16 for 158 yards and a touchdown, while Mitchell completed 12/17 for 138 yards and a score. Mitchell threw the only interception between the two (walk-on A.J. Derby threw another). Afterwards, Arkansas Expats felt Allen had the upper hand:
Statistically, both the Brandons were about the same at quarterback, but comments from the coaches seem to indicate Allen would be the starter if the season ended today. I felt Allen appeared a little more poised in the pocket and was a more accurate passer. Mitchell made some good throws as well, but also made a few that were at least slightly off-target, and it felt like Allen made fewer bad throws.
Patrick Arinze, a 5'10, 254-lb. fullback, led all players in rushing with 66 yards on nine carries. Nate Holmes carried nine times for 43 yards and scored the game's only rushing touchdown. Javontee Herndon led the receivers with six catches for 85 yards.
Bielema also expressed his gratitude for the fan support:
"[W]e go into an alumni event with former players from all sports and people were coming up to me and saying how far we could go. That's when I realized the support was there, and then to be blown away by 51,000 fans today that showed support for a program that wasn't where they wanted it to be last year. Those things coupled with what we saw on the field today, gets me really excited."
Arkansas now breaks until August camp, and will return to action August 31 against Louisiana-Lafayette.