Defensive coordinator Robb Smith gives his thoughts on all of the Razorbacks’ defensive players:
Observations from reading that again:
Makes me wonder who will start up front with Wise, Johnson and Ledbetter. Eventually Agim.
The way the team has been assembled doesn’t fit the schedule very well. Look, they’ve got scads of linebackers. This list doesn’t include all the freshmen. Eight veteran linebackers and freshmen De’Jon Harris, Alexy Jean-Baptiste, Giovanni LaFrance, Dee Walker. Twelve players for what in more than half of the games will be two linebacker positions. If only we were in the Big Ten.
Last season, Arkansas’s defense was a disaster against spread passing offenses. They completed three-quarters of their passes against us! That is unheard of. We can’t afford to prepare mainly for a scheme that we don’t need most of the time. Last year’s D looked uncomfortable, unprepared, when we had to shift to five or six DBs.
It might be a talent-level thing in the secondary, but I hope different coaching makes a big difference. More emphasis on speed, quickness and aggressiveness. I want to know if having Paul Rhoads gets players into the positions they should be playing. He moved guys around right away. Still do not see the one anchor in the secondary who forces opposing offenses to deal with him. If we’re on our heels again this fall, we’ll see the same results.
Two problems with the secondary last year, no pass rush and an injured DJ Dean. I think we are greatly improved in pass rush and overall pass defense next year.
IF we can play more press coverage at CB to stop the quick passing game of the spread offenses.
Randy, I’m always interested to read your thoughts. There is some good stuff in your reply. The stuff on linebackers is interesting. One thing to note, some of the new ones have speed and quickness to allow Robb to play three against spread teams. Of course, they will play five and six DBs at times. I think Randy Ramsey and Khalia Hackett have enough speed and range to stay on the field at Sam LB.
The ability to knock slot receivers off their marks will help this defense against spread teams. That was where I saw improvement in linebacker and secondary play with Robb working well with Vernon Hargreaves and Paul Rhoads.
Can’t put all of the lack of pass defense on the secondary. We had LB’s playing out of their natural position and a freshman LB going thru the learning curve trying to catch up to the speed of D-1 power 5 football. LB’s as a whole were a tad slow to react and get back in coverage. Wasn’t much pass rush there either until late in the season.
Should see big improvement and more depth in all areas this year.
I was reminded last week that both Melvin Bradley and Jimmy Walker played linebacker in high school but nose guard at Arkansas. I don’t know that any of these freshmen wind up somewhere else but all are playmakers and coveted by Robb Smith.
Have to agree with this. It was a total breakdown. Rush didn’t get there, LBs couldn’t cover the underneath stuff. We weren’t getting beat deep very often but 15-20 yards at a time still gets you beat
This early in the year, it’s hard for me to know exactly what Arkansas’s going to face from opposing offenses.
TCU, Texas A&M, Ole Miss and maybe Mississippi State are the teams best positioned to attack Arkansas’s defense with a spread passing attack. Louisiana Tech runs a nice, balanced scheme with high % passing and a solid run threat. No idea how good they’ll be with new QB and RBs.
Alabama can stretch the defense in any direction, but it’s very much a pro-style offense. Arkansas seems to know what it is doing against the Tide. Florida’s more of a pro-style offense too. Missouri’s supposed to be moving in that direction.
Auburn operates more of a run-option offense that often requires three linebackers. That leaves me wondering about LSU. They have not looked especially creative the past couple of seasons. Distinctly run-first.
Maybe all those linebackers will be more useful than I thought they would.
My thought is that speedy linebackers can play against spread and blitz a little more and make it more unpredictable for the quarterback (or the coach on the sideline). I was interested to see LSU move their MLB to end and rush. Seem to bother the spread team in the bowl.
I guess my general thought is that you can’t sign enough linebackers. They make good rush ends. They are great to cover kicks. They are leaders of the defense many times. They are good in the locker room. I recall some wondering about signing Sam Olajubutu. Boy did that turn out great. Tony Bua was a running back and he turned out was just fine at safety or OLB.
Have to be able to stop spread teams and power teams. face it, you have to beat Bama. To beat them, you need to stop the run. Then, you need to beat Ole Miss and A&M, who will spread you out. my point, you need LB’s that can play the run against power teams and the pass against spread teams. I was at the Texas tech game last year. Most of their pass plays were 15 yards and under, then off to the races. I think LB’er is exactly where we needed the help.