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Arkansas Razorbacks backfield duo flourishing in Bielema's system

Published On: Dec 24 2013 06:45:37 AM CST
Updated On: Sep 23 2013 04:53:08 PM CDT
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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- -

Springfield, Mo. (OzarksSportsZone.com)  -- The Arkansas running back duo of true freshman Alex Collins and sophomore Jonathan Williams has become the talk of the SEC.

A quick look at the stats offers the answer as to why.

Collins is No. 4 in the nation in total rushing yards with 418 through three games to go with two touchdowns. He became the first freshman in SEC history to rush for 100 yards in each of his first three games. Nationally the last to do it was Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson in 2004.

Williams hasn’t been far behind.

He is seventh in the nation in total yards with 393 to go with three touchdowns. He has been a game-breaking spark when the Razorbacks need it as evidenced by his 45-yard touchdown run to give a floundering offense a boost last Saturday.

Despite all of the success, the backfield coexistence has been a learned one.

“I think that it has been a work in progress,” Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema said. “As is with most running backs when they are coming up in high school, they all get to be that guy on their team. To share the limelight with each other was a work in progress.”

That work in progress became a well-oiled machine after the duo torched Samford for 298 yards in the second game of the season.

“I did bring them both in after that second game…I just asked the question, could you gain 300 yards by yourself in one game if you had to play every snap?” Bielema said. “They both said no. I made them see the light that we are much with the two of them playing very, very well.”

Arkansas ranks 11th in the nation in rushing yards per game, which is a stat that goes well beyond just Collins and Williams.

“They both know that the reason they have success are the people in front of them,” Bielema said. “Our offensive line, our tight ends and our fullback are doing a nice job of blocking for them and that is making them have success.”

The duo will look to continue their great running on Saturday against Rutgers, as Collins gives chase to more freshman records.

“The great thing is that he (Collins) is just beginning to scratch the surface,” Bielema said. “He ran for 115 last weekend, and I think when you watched the film on Sunday you could see he could have had another 100 yards if he just stayed with his reads a little longer.”

The Razorbacks kickoff at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday in Piscataway, N.J. against Rutgers.