Willy Robinson wants a different focus from the Arkansas defense this week against Ole Miss. And he was very specific in what needs to change. It's the technique of tackling. Specifically, where the eyes start.
"What we saw against Auburn is not what we teach," Robinson said. "We teach heads up, eyes open and then bring the hips through."
What he saw against the Tigers were defenders "who stood straight up," and/or ended up on the ground.
"There was a lot of flopping around," the Arkansas defensive coordinator said. "We didn't do a very good job of staying on our feet and we didn't play with bent knees."
He wants a different focus with the eyes.
"I don't want the eyes on the head and the shoulder, the moving parts," he said. "Sure, the guy was big. But you don't focus on how big he is. You focus on a small spot, in the middle and you bring yourself through that spot."
Did the Hogs get blocked or did they miss tackles?
"What I saw was a lot of missed tackles," he said. "Granted, the guy was good and he will make you miss. But gosh, darn, get him down. We didn't do a very good job of getting him down."
Robinson said it was a case of "taking a step back" in overall defensive performance.
"It's not how we play," he said. "We did take a step back."
In looking at the big picture, he said he's seen defensive improvement this year until the Auburn game. He's hopeful that the Hogs will return to the way they had been playing, instead of what happened at Auburn. But when you give up 65 points, your confidence might slip. Did coaches have to address the psyche of the team?
"Yes, that started Monday night," Robinson said. "Obviously, you can take two approaches. We took the approach that it was not the way we had been playing, it wasn't like us.
"And we had good leadership from within the team this week. We had some leaders come to the surface."
Robinson identified the vocal leaders from the defensive meetings as linebacker Jerry Franklin and end Jake Bequette.
"Jerry and Jake did that for us," he said. "Jake didn't have a very productive game. Those two took the bull by the horn and they addressed it.
"We have taken the attitude that what we saw is not the way we play. We play with knees bent. Knee benders are jaw breakers."
Franklin said he's not usually a talker, but knew it was time to step up.
"I don't do that much, but it was needed for the team," he said. "I told them we gave up a lot of points and we don't want to forget that feeling. But we need to move on and get ready for the next game. That's got to be our focus right now, not that score. It will be about how we practice this week.
"The message was we need to get back to playing and all of us have to play together. Both Jake and I had the same message -- that this last game is not going to ruin our season."
For the third straight weekend, the Hogs will face an offense built around the quarterback, just a smaller package. Ole Miss quarterback Jeremy Masoli might not be over 6-foot tall. The last two QBs, Texas A&M's Jerrod Johnson and Auburn's Cam Newton, both stood 6-6.
"He's not as big, but he's still very good," Franklin said. "He is pretty fast and he really has good moves. He is a lot like the last two in that the team depends on him for big plays. He's just smaller."
Franklin said he understood the message on tackling.
"You can get all of those fakes from the head and it's not going to tell you where the guy is going," Franklin said. "We got caught up in the fakes last week. Watching the head is the worst thing you can do. We are going to focus on the middle. That doesn't move too much when someone is running."
Robinson didn't see much production from any area of the defense, but he was especially disappointed in the front.
"We had problems all through the defense, but we were very unproductive in the defensive front," he said. "I did think we responded very well the last two days. It was much better today."
Don't expect major changes in personnel.
"I don't think you will see that," he said. "We are going to roll with our guys. What we have to do is play with courage and step up to the plate."
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