“Playing time is something that has to be earned, it’s not just going to be given, that’s one of the edges of Arkansas.”

That’s how defensive backs coach Clay Jennings described how young players get on the field.

With an easier opponent in Nicholls State coming to Fayetteville this weekend, several true freshmen are expected to receive significant playing time this week, according to head coach Bret Bielema.

“I want our guys to play. I think those guys deserve every opportunity to play, especially this week,” Bielema said earlier this week. “Josh Liddell is going to get every opportunity. Henre’ Tolliver at the corner position [will play] and all three freshmen linebackers.”

Liddell and Toliver’s developmen could be significant for a Hogs’ team looking for more playmakers in the secondary. With cornerback Tevin Mitchel still out with injury, the chance to give both Liddell and Toliver opportunities to play will help develop the secondary’s depth.

Linebacker Dwayne Eugene will be another player Arkansas fans will have their eyes on. Eugene currently backs up weakside linebacker Martrell Spaight, but figures to be a prominent member of the defense once Spaight graduates after this season.

True freshman and defensive tackle Bijhon Jackson saw some action last week against Auburn. He’s the Hogs’ best true freshman, but Bielema explained because of his 6-foot-2, 324-pound frame, he’s unable to play 40-50 snaps this weekend.

“Bijhon really started off well [at Auburn], but he’s a guy with his size he can’t play 40 or 50 snaps, but maybe he can give us 10-30 snaps and play very, very well.”

It won’t be just the defense that’ll have several true freshman playing on Saturday. The offense features a number of true freshman that could make an impact this season, let alone against Nicholls State. Jared Cornelius stands out as one who can have an immediate impact in both the receiving and return game.

“On the offensive side of the ball, we definitely want to get [Frank] Ragnow in the game,” Bielema said. “We made hold a bit on [Brian] Wallace, that just depends on what’s happening. The two freshmen wide receivers I’d definitely like to get involved in the game plan.”

Games like the one Arkansas is about to play against Nicholls State are important for this very reason. It may not be a competitive affair for long, but it’s these kinds of opportunities that critical for the development of the younger players on the team.

The better they play this weekend, the more likely it becomes the true freshmen get more opportunities to make an impact somewhere down the line in a more competitive game.