FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) Just because Bret Bielema was emotional following yet another Southeastern Conference loss doesn't mean he's close to abandoning hope for Arkansas' season.
The Razorbacks' second-year coach fought back tears following a 14-13 loss to No. 7 Alabama on Saturday night, the school's 15th straight defeat in SEC play.
What made the loss particularly difficult for Bielema to handle was that it was the second straight game in which Arkansas (3-3, 0-3 SEC) led in the fourth quarter before losing. The Razorbacks also led by two touchdowns against No. 21 Texas A&M before falling in overtime two weeks ago.
Despite the struggles, Bielema said Monday, he isn't worried that the late-game woes will snowball into a lost season like a year ago when Arkansas lost its final nine games of the season - though the search for an elusive SEC win doesn't get any easier this week against No. 10 Georgia (5-1, 3-1).
''I think the negative effect comes from those that don't live in our program,'' Bielema said. ''... I think that is a thing that from the outside world looking in maybe you get amazed at, but I am not concerned the least bit as a head coach.''
The Razorbacks led 13-7 against Alabama in the fourth quarter despite a season-low 13 yards rushing on six carries from sophomore running back Alex Collins.
Collins, who entered the game second in the SEC in rushing yards per game, was held out of the first quarter because he missed a pair of early-morning workouts. Once the Florida native entered the game in the second quarter, he was clearly out of sync - losing a fumble on his second carry and never establishing himself as a threat.
''The kid needs to learn to be on time,'' Bielema said, noting that Collins missed the second workout because he was studying for a test but forgot to tell his strength coaches that he'd be absent. ''... Hopefully, this last one will put him over the top, because we're a better team when he's in there.''
Collins is still fourth in the SEC with an average of 105.7 yards rushing per game, but the Razorbacks will need him in top form - for the entire game - against the Bulldogs.
''I can't do (anything) but blame myself and keep moving forward,'' Collins posted on his Instagram account Sunday. ''On to Georgia.''
Even without Collins at his best, Arkansas nearly upended Alabama behind quarterback Brandon Allen. The junior had several key runs and finished with 246 yards passing - including a 54-yard touchdown pass to tight end A.J. Derby.
The Razorbacks cost themselves several scoring opportunities in the loss, most notably fullback Kody Walker's fumble just inches before crossing the goal line on the game's opening drive. Also, a high snap kept Arkansas from attempting a 43-yard field goal in the first quarter, and kicker John Henson had an extra-point attempt blocked in the second quarter.
The miscues, and ensuing disappointment, led to Bielema's emotional reaction following the loss - though he put his most positive spin on the continued difficult times on Monday.
''I wish I could give them a win,'' Bielema said. ''But on the same account, I'm glad I can't because if you give somebody something they haven't earned, it usually doesn't mean much in time. And we did a lot of really good things, but we did enough to take it away from us.''