Despite having referred to Arkansas as his "dream job," John Thompson left the Razorbacks to assume defensive coordinator duties at Florida. But Arkansas Head Coach made a very good hire by bringing in Dave Wommack. Similar to what Alabama saw last week with Southern Miss, Wommack will use stunts and blitzes to confuse and disrupt opposing offenses.
Seven starters return for Wommack to work with, and the Razorbacks are especially good in the secondary.
Boise State and South Florida were hardly powerhouse opponents, but after two games statistically Arkansas is among the nation's leaders. The Razorbacks are giving up only 254 yards per game. 216.5 through the air is solid, but allowing only 27.5 yards per game on the ground is a startling stat.
Two starters return on the defensive line. Tackles Jermaine Brooks (6-3, 310, Sr) and Raymond House (6-3, 276, Sr) are returning starters, and are very good. Justin Scott (6-2, 260, Jr) will start at bandit end, with sophomore Elliott Harris (6-4, 265) on the other side.
The Razorback defense has totaled eight quarterback sacks on the year, but only one of them is credited to a down lineman. And he (Arrion Dixon) doesn't start.
The two Razorback outside linebackers are both talented. Caleb Miller (6-3, 220, Jr) is the "stinger" and Tony Bua (5-11, 218, Jr) the "wolf." Bua appears slightly undersized, but he makes up for it in heart and speed. So far he's second on his team in tackles, with a sack and two interceptions to his credit.
Jeb Huckeba (6-4, 235, So) starts at middle linebacker.
Pierre Brown (6-0, 227, Fr) and Jimarr Gallon (5-11, 196, Jr) provide above-average linebacker depth.
When Alabama visited Norman, Oklahoma for the second game of the season, the Tide may well have faced the nation's best overall defense--almost certainly the Sooners are the fastest.
But in the secondary at least, Arkansas could well be better. Certainly the Razorback DBs are the best in the SEC.
Three starters return, and every one is a candidate for the Jim Thorpe Trophy, awarded to the top defensive back in the nation. Lawrence Richardson (5-10, 188, Jr), Ahmad Carroll (5-11, 190, So) and Ken Hamlin (6-2, 197, Jr) are all being touted for the award. Strong safety (called "Rover" in their terminology) Jimmy Beasley (5-11, 196, Jr) is the only new starter.
Richardson will share time at field corner with Eddie Jackson (6-0, 190, Jr). At boundary corner, Ahmad "Batman" Carroll is a future All-American.
Like tailback Cedric Cobbs, free safety Ken Hamlin has had more than his share of off-the-field trouble. But also like Cobbs, on the playing field Hamlin is one of the top athletes in the SEC. A candidate for both Thorpe and Nagurski honors, Hamlin led his team last year in tackles.
After only two games, the Razorback secondary already has four interceptions and 15 pass deflections to its credit.