What did he think about Bret Bielema's joking jab at Nick Saban and Alabama? Does he like Arkansas being a huge underdog this year?
Let's find out:
You’ve been around this program for a couple of years now and have seen some big highs and bad lows, so what’s the feeling like for you and some of your teammates this spring with everything being so new?
Kiero Small: For me, right now, it’s a good feeling. It’s steady and I know what’s coming next. I know the coaching staff is going to be here. You know, this time last year, we were all in an uproar and we didn’t really know what was going to happen. It feels good to know what’s coming and to know that Coach “B” (Bret Bielema) and all of the rest of the coaching staff have our backs and they are going to put us in the best situations to be good.
I know your coach caused a little bit of a stir this week when he was joking about Nick Saban, but do you guys like that? Do you like the confidence that he’s brought and the fact that he isn’t afraid to say stuff like that?
In Bret Bielema, Arkansas players know they have a coach who isn't lacking confidence.
KS: I’ve seen it here and there, but I didn’t really see what context it was in and I didn’t really get to read it. Coach B is a guy that believes in himself and he believes in us. That helps us know that when we go out on the football field it’s going to be us against whoever we play and it’s going to be our set of guys against their set of guys and our coaches against theirs. It’s a good feeling to know that your coach has confidence.
Does it feel like you guys are flying under the radar right now, and do you like that feeling?
KS: I like it a lot. Right now, no one is talking about us. Everybody is making their (preseason) picks and everything of that sort and should they (pick Arkansas)? We didn’t have a good year last year and lost a lot of guys, but this team has taken on more of a working mentality. We have to go and make our own name. It’s a new regime and it’s time for us to go pick a name for ourselves, but, you know, last year we were picked to beat everybody. We were picked to win a lot of games and picked to be great and it didn’t turn out that way. At the end of the day, those picks really don’t mean anything. You have to go out and play football.
You guys have a lot of young parts coming back on offense, but what have you seen so far this spring that excites you about that side of the ball?
KS: A lot of guys have a working mentality and at every position group you have maybe one or two guys who have been here a long time. On the (offensive) line we got [Travis] Swanson, you got me in the running backs room, you’ve got Javontee [Herndon] in the receivers room and you have [Austin] Tate in the tight ends room, so you have one guy or two guys who have been here for a long time and the young guys are really preparing themselves behind them. That’s a sight to see when you have young guys who are willing to learn and willing to go and attack practice every day.
What have you seen from the quarterbacks so far this spring?
KS: It’s been pretty good. We have some competition there. You like to see competition, especially at that position. Every day they are racking their brains to try and be good and make the plays. It’s been a steady competition and good to see. You have two guys (Brandon Allen and Brandon Mitchell) who can get the job done. Right now they are battling to see who is going to make it happen for this year. There are no set positions. Everybody is having to look over their shoulder and have to be able to go and attack practice.
What do you guys really want to get out of spring practice this year?
KS: Right now, we’re just trying to learn these new systems and new schemes. We’re playing fast, but the coaches are doing a good job of simplifying things so we can learn it, which allows us to play faster. I really like that. They’re not trying to complicate things because at the end of the day we don’t have games on Saturdays. We have the spring game and we have scrimmages, but now we get to learn and that’s going to push us through the summer so in (fall) camp we have a basis for what is going on.