If RB Alex Collins Is Unhappy, Jonathan Williams Can Carry the Load for Arkansas

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterApril 4, 2014

It's been a relatively quiet spring in the SEC this season, but that doesn't mean all has been quiet on the rumor front.

According to Robbie Neiswanger of the Arkansas News Bureau, there were rumblings over Arkansas' spring break that star Razorback running back Alex Collins was unhappy with his place within the program.

When Neiswanger asked if Collins had mentioned transferring, running backs coach Joel Thomas was caught off guard by the rumors.

"That’s the first news that it’s been told to me,” Thomas said. “You’ll have to ask Alex on that if that’s the case.”

So far, Collins hasn't offered any public comment on this specific subject, but he has posted "WPS" (short for "woo pig, sooie") several times this week on his personal Twitter account.

WholeHogSports.com reported that he was suspended for one week during offseason conditioning in February, during which time he was also removed from social media.

It's never a good thing if your star running back who rushed for 1,026 yards as a true freshman in a woefully one-dimensional offense is debating his future. But if he is unhappy and either stays in head coach Bret Bielema's doghouse or moves on, Arkansas' running game will still be fine.

The primary reason is Jonathan Williams.

The rising junior running back had 150 carries for 900 yards and four touchdowns last season in the very same one-dimensional offense. At 6'0", 223 pounds, he's fully capable of taking the pounding between the tackles and has the juice to run away from opposing defenses when he gets out in space.

He can handle the load if given the opportunity.

Bret Bielema's 1,000-yard Rushers as a Head Coach
YearPlayerTeamRushing Yds.TDs
2006P.J. HillWisconsin1,56915
2007P.J. HillWisconsin1,21214
2008P.J. HillWisconsin1,16113
2009John ClayWisconsin1,51718
2010James WhiteWisconsin1,05214
2010John ClayWisconsin1,01214
2011Montee BallWisconsin1,92333
2012Montee BallWisconsin1,83022
2013Alex CollinsArkansas1,0264
Sports-Reference.com

Bielema's track record also bodes well for Arkansas' running game, regardless of who's toting the rock.

In his eight years as a head coach at Wisconsin and Arkansas, nine running backs have gone north of 1,000 yards for the season. Those offenses typically employed a run-first, run-second and run-third scheme, although there was a bit more diversity at Wisconsin than the Hogs showed last season.

Collins is a great running back in a great system for running backs. Williams is a very good running back in a great system for running backs. Either way, the system won't change.

If there's any truth to the rumors that Neiswanger referenced, it'd be more of a public relations hit than anything else. After all, it's not a good thing if the reigning Associated Press SEC Freshman of the Year is unhappy. 

On the field, though, fielding a competent running game is the last of Bielema's worries.

Williams' ability to shoulder the load, coupled with Bielema's resume that's loaded with 1,000-yard rushers, is the least of Arkansas' worries.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All stats are courtesy of Sports-Reference.com. 


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