Is there a Tevin Mitchell on this defense??????

There were three things that stood out last year on defense where we were noticeably weaker than the year before:

  1. In 2014, Tevin Mitchell had a great senior season becoming our primary slot receiver defender against spread teams. I think Texas Tech was his coming out party in 2014 where he knocked down the first two or three Tech passes to their slot receivers. Last year, I remember us chasing slot receivers all over the fielding and being left behind regularly (A&M being the worst example). This cannot all be blamed on the lack of a pass rush. The short drop spread passing game doesn’t give the rush time to get to the QB. They can only knock the passes down to disrupt things. The defender has to make the play. Tevin Mitchell did that a lot in 2014 and Henre Tolliver and his friends did not in 2015. Is there a Tevin Mitchell in this year’s secondary?

  2. Last year, there were several busts in coverage where the safeties were just fooled or someone blew an assignment. Not so much the year before. I suspect Paul Rhoads and another year of seasoning will reduce or eliminate those moments. Have we finally arrived at the two safeties?

  3. In 2014, we got significant pressure on the passer without blitzing with Philon and Flowers leading the way. Last year, our greater numbers of experienced D-linemen keeping each other fresh was supposed to take care of that. It didn’t happen. Our secondary broke down due to the weak pass rush and we were forced to blitz more than Robb wanted and got burned a lot. Do we finally have the talent to match Flowers and Philon and allow Robb to blitz only when it can be devastating not desperate?


  1. I’m not sure. Kevin Richardson has had a lot of work at that position so far this camp.

  2. The starting safeties this year are probably going to be Santos Ramirez and Josh Liddell. They are the same ones who played much of last season. They are a year older, so that should cut down on some of the big plays. Having more experience at the corner positions may help, too. As I stated in another thread, I’m still skeptical of how much better the secondary will be.

  3. One of the biggest problems last season is that Arkansas didn’t get a lot of rush from its 3-technique. I think moving Jeremiah Ledbetter to that position is going to have positive results. He is a true pass rusher. The more pressure he can get from the inside, the more it opens up opportunities for the ends, in particular Deatrich Wise. If Ledbetter and Wise stay healthy all season, I think you’ll see a noticeable difference in sacks.

Henre’ has worked some as the nickel corner, but has been the first-team guy at boundary. He told me he prefers boundary over nickel, hands down. Feels a lot more comfortable there. Kevin Richardson is a guy they trust. D.J. Dean would’ve played a lot as the third cornerback with Toliver and Collins and may still if he can get healthy. I like his physicality and ability to disrupt short routes.

It may be Sept. 10 before we get a good feel for how far they’ve come there.

I totally agree about missing Tevin Mitchell. He was able to shut down many of the opponents’ best WR, because he was physical and fast enough to play press coverage at the line. The spread teams love an easy quick pass to the WR or Slot. Last year we gave up the quick pass because our corners were giving 7-10 yard cushions. Press Coverage is playing at the line of scrimmage to stop the wide open quick pass and also disrupt route timing.

I am a firm believer that the Dline and Corners are dependent on each other for success. If the QB can get rid of the ball quickly, then the Dline never has time to get to the QB. If the corners are giving 7-10 yard cushion then a spread team QB can throw it right after the snap. Our Dline had some problems last year but it was almost impossible to overcome the easy quick pass we gave up. Now DJ Dean is hurt enough to RS and he was our best candidate to play press cover. Ugh.

No, but if there were, he’d have a serious leg injury.

It’s gratifying to read praise about Tevin. I remember a time when, on this board and among fans in the stands, he was portrayed as some sort of bum. Which was totally unfair, of course. He was almost the defensive equivalent of BA in terms of unwarranted fan abuse (though MUCH less extreme than BA). Then, of course, he proved all the doubters wrong.

If we have anyone play at his level this year, I’d be thrilled. If Collins stays healthy, I think he’s that guy…though he won’t play guys in the slot. But he’s the closest we have to a shutdown guy.

I don’t think there is one Tevin Mitchel on this team. There are two. I think Henre’ Toliver has developed into a nice nickel back and so has Kevin Richardson. Both have been groomed for that positions and will play in the nickel and dime packages for Robb Smith. I know that Paul Rhoads is proud of the development of the secondary as far as knowledge of all of the DBs to play multiple positions and know the schemes for all of them. There has been a lot of growth in the back end of the defense and a lot of it has to do with the nice way that Toliver and Richardson have stepped forward. I think the safeties are better in man, especially Santos Ramirez. I feel very good about this defensive secondary, especially the slot DBs. They are better in tight coverage. They have the ability to attack the receivers coming off the line and re-route them and that makes it much more difficult to throw slants against this defense.

Before his senior season, Tevin did not stand out at all. He was somewhat of a disappointment for many fans with his high recruit rating. Then the light came on for him and he played great as a senior. If Richardson and Toliver are going through a similar process, that is great news for this defense.

Tevin was quick and fast; I’ve not seen that out of Richardson.

Mitchel had a very good freshman year and looked to be the lock down corner we all dearly wanted. He suffered a serious neck injury making a tackle and lost confidence and came close to quitting football all together. It took two years but came back his senior year and flashed great talent and instincts. I hope Clay is right about about having two in this secondary.