New Faces

Arkansas defensive coordinator Paul Haynes is having to count on a plethora of new - or unfamiliar faces - in the secondary as he looks to improve the Razorbacks' defensive performance from a year ago.

Some of the names may not be familiar to Razorback fans, but that should change very soon.

Guys like safeties Rohan Gaines, Jerry Mitchell, Alan Turner and Kelvin Fisher and cornerbacks Kaelon Kellybrew, Davyon McKinney and Will Hines all appear on the verge of making significant contributions this season.

"I love the opportunity," Gaines said. "Now I have to just go out there and get it. The door is open. I just have to walk through it and go get it."

All of those players had their moments in Tuesday night's scrimmage while helping vets Darius Winston and Tevin Mitchel with starting safety Eric Bennett still out with injury.

"I thought we did pretty good as a unit," Tevin Mitchell said. "We played hard and listened to our coaches and did what we were suppose to do. We had been preparing all week for this scrimmage and I believe that we have gotten better since practice has started."

The group did give up a few big plays in the scrimmage, but it is tough to stop Arkansas' offense all the time according to Mitchel.

"To me, we are going against one of the best offenses in the country – if not the best offense," Mitchel said. "Tyler Wilson is a great quarterback. I am going against (senior wide receiver) Cobi Hamilton every day and that is making me a better cornerback. That is making us a better defense."

Gaines (5-11, 190) – a rdshirt freshman - agreed with that.

"The good thing about it is that we have the best offense in the SEC," Gaines said. "They are expected to make big plays. They are expected to do good things. We just have to raise our level and compete with it."

Gaines, the former Georgia prep star, has learned it is more than having athletic ability.

"It is like Coach says, your alignments never lie," Gaines said. "Your keys never lie. So I read the keys and I play ball. It's film study, playbook and now I am more comfortable out there on the field."

He notes that Arkansas defensive coordinator Paul Haynes made one thing a priority upon his arrival from Ohio State.

"We are coming along," Gaines said. "When Coach Haynes came in, his main goal was to stop the run. We pretty much did that today. The freshman running backs had the most yards today."

Jerry Mitchell sees that as a plus for the defense as well.

"That was one of our main priorities and I thought we did a good job today on that in the first scrimmage," Mitchell said. "We didn't have very many missed tackles."

Mitchell was thrilled with the opportunity to finally have some live contact.

"He had a tremendous spring and we all knew he was a great player," Mitchel said. "It was great to just see how he played this spring and got better."

"There is nothing like hitting somebody," Mitchell said. "I've been looking forward to this for a long time – finally being able to hit. I haven't been able to hit anybody all summer so it's always good to get the pads back on and play some football."

Bennett is a starter at safety, but injuries have kept him off the field for all but a few plays this preseason.

"Eric is one of our main leaders out there," Mitchell said. "He is a vocal leader and knows his playbook very well."

Still that gives the new guys more action, which should help down the line.

"The more reps the guys get, the more comfortable we get and that's a good thing," Mitchell said.

Hawgs Daily Top Stories