By Otis Kirk
Special to the News-Times
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema continues play it coy on who will start at quarterback on Saturday.
Bielema was asked on Wednesday how Austin Allen and Cole Kelley looked during Tuesday's practice?
"Good, I would say Austin Allen just from last week to this week to be involved in practice from Tuesday forward," Bielema said.
"Last week he didn't get to practice on Tuesday but did this week and vice versa. He got a few more reps than Cole did but Cole will get more reps today than he did (on Tuesday).
"I really like the fact Austin Allen has been in the SEC and been on the road and had success, but on the flipside Cole had a win at Ole Miss and then Saturday's game was pretty the way he finished the game.
"One thing you can't take away from somebody is once they've done it they have done it. And he had two come-from-behind wins at Ole Miss and last week's home game here. The good new is we've got a couple of good quarterbacks and obviously you feel great about either one of them whoever it is."
In this day and age of social media and everything else, how hard is it to keep a secret on who will start at quarterback?
"You know I'm not really trying to keep a secret as much as we're just gonna put the best guy in there that gives us a chance to win," Bielema said.
"Last week we really didn't know Cole was gonna be the starter until Thursday or Friday. We approached it that way but Austin just wasn't able to get all the reps he needed to get there. This week is kinda the same scenario except that Austin is probably a little bit healthier.
"I think Tuesday there was some questions about other guys. I made reference that I didn't want to tip it off until I had to. Kinda like earlier everybody was asking the question about T.J. Hammonds.
"Just because they're cleared for the game doesn't mean they've done everything they can to practice. That reflects in the game. I know that doesn't make sense always to the people writing, but just because a player is cleared doesn't necessarily mean that he's had all the preparation.
"That was kinda the case with Austin last week. He had practiced, but he hadn't practiced the whole week. We felt Cole who had practiced the whole week gave us our best chance.
"In the fourth quarter that ended up being the big difference. Guys who aren't cleared for practice the whole week will play limited roles, but we don't want to put them out there for something they're not prepared for."
Bielema also finds himself on the defensive once again about his record.
He is 29-31 at Arkansas in all games and 11-26 in just SEC games. That is in sharp contrast from his 68-24 mark at Wisconsin. How do see the difference in the records at the two schools?
"Two different stories as far as the win-loss category," Bielema said. "One of the main reasons I took this job was I felt it was an opportunity to build something up.
"They'd had some success in the past. When I took over it was a 3-9 (actually 4-8) team. We went 3-9 my first year. We steadily built it up. My second year we built a bowl team that beat Texas. My next year we had a bowl team that improved in wins by one, a bowl team that beat Kansas State.
"Last year we were kind of on track and unfortunately faltered our last two games. We got beat by Mizzou in the second half and then our bowl game against a very good Virginia Tech team.
"It's been one of those that since then it's been difficult to get back on top of it. But it's there. There's so many improvements."
While the records are in sharp contrast from one another, Bielema points out some similarities.
"I left Wisconsin as a championship team that had an APR that was one of the best in the country," Bielema said.
"When I got here our APR was really, really low and I knew that to get to where we needed to be we needed to build up respect on and off the field. We've done that academically, now we've just got to hold the same standard on the field.
"Unfortunately it takes a little time. This year's been a difficult year. A lot of things factor into it. But the people here in the program and the people that are near and dear I think understand where we're going, what we've done and how we can get there and the aspects to make that happen. The outside world doesn't. I get it. It's a microwave world. Everybody wants things now. So that part is real. But I've enjoyed every minute. As a head coach, keep doing the same things every day. You always modify and adjust."