I think ends were inexperienced and light. I saw the ends take the eye candy too much. You have to play and go through the wars of practice. I don’t think teams scrimmage enough any more, but maybe that’s the case nationwide.
I also think that practice was geared to offense and not defense. That is the nature of how spread teams practice. It’s tough if you are inexperienced and don’t have huge talent advantage. I think it plagued Texas A&M and Arkansas under Chief. Maybe he didn’t adapt to the spread practices or maybe it’s the nature of the beast.
Alabama is having mistakes with young players right now. They were really exposed by LSU’s spread. Now, I know that’s partly talent and a great QB. But it’s interesting to see.
I do not think the Arkansas corners are talented enough or experienced enough. They’ll get better through experience and time in the weight room.
Dorian Gerald was the only defensive end that I’d say was ready to play in the SEC. Size and speed. Gabe Richardson lacks size and strength. He has speed.
Here’s the thing about the Chief defense, the most important positions where ability is needed – and it’s not just Chief’s defenses – are cornerback and defensive end.
I like the young defensive ends. Mataio Soli, Eric Gregory, Zach Williams, Collin Clay are going to develop into good players. Fulwider is hurt. So I don’t know on him. Ideally, some of those freshmen could have played a little in supporting roles. But they had to be starters. I don’t know how you play DE with a cast on your hand, like Soli tried. I think you need your hands to get off blocks.
The other position that you have to mention is nickel. Greg Brooks is a good, young talent. But he was a true freshman and had to play almost every down. Western Kentucky worked him over, as did most everyone else. He might have had good coverage for a bit, but he couldn’t hang long enough with no pass rush.
I’ll go back to the practicing too fast, there has to be physical play and there has to be teaching between plays. Can’t be just stacking different plays together and going so fast. You have to fix things and demand that it stays fixed.
I go back to the August practice when they divided the team into four groups and had two practices going at lightning speed. They were trying to get reps for four quarterbacks. I don’t know if that was good for the defense as far as teaching.
I think the coaches probably spread themselves a little thin in doing that. I heard one person say he thought that was going to be a problem. Whether or not it was, not sure. But it’s something to consider. For sure, they made a lot of errors in technique and repeated them, especially the young defensive players. Those young defensive guys probably needed to go slow.