Front four looks to serve as defensive anchor

Byran Jones, Robert Thomas, Trey Flowers and Chris Smith plan to be the defensive anchor in 2013.

Arkansas defensive end Trey Flowers said he wants his teammates to embrace a winning attitude.

That's why the often soft-spoken junior delivered a message Tuesday night that teammates said helped increase practice intensity on Wednesday.

"I was just spreading the message about the winning attitude we've got to approach," Flowers said. "It's just about not letting anybody take food off our plate. Not letting heat take the food. Not letting being fatigued, being sore. It's just a dog mentality. Stray dog out there that has to eat. That was pretty much the message. Embracing a winning attitude, having the will to win and refuse to lose."

As far as defensive success goes, Flowers said that it will all start with the defensive line for the Razorbacks this season.

"We know that however far we go, this defense goes," Flowers said after practice Wednesday. "So we embrace that and have learned to encourage each other and encourage others. When one of us feels down, we tell each other we have to make it happen, because it's up to us."

The projected starting four on the Arkansas defensive line includes three seniors, defensive end Chris Smith and tackles Robert Thomas and Byran Jones, and a junior, Flowers. Smith said over the last three years, the unit has built a strong relationship.

"I feel like we feed off of each other," Smith said. "One thing I did, individually, was just push myself everyday to get better with my technique and with my hands in the run game and get even better at pass rushing. Even though he's younger than me, I learn from Trey Flowers. He's a very smart guy and he feeds off of Byran and Byran feeds off of Rob, so we all feed off each other. We know we're the strength of this team, so we have to be leaders and be ready to come to play every Saturday.

"We're all brothers. We all go to each other's house to eat and hang out and things of that nature, so we're all family and we keep that chemistry. It gets contagious in the back end and with the linebackers."

Much like Flowers and Smith learn from each other at the end position, Jones said he and Thomas have built chemistry playing with one another as well.

"We're picking up on different sets and formations, Jones said. "Overall, it's just coming along great."

Beyond the starting four, Flowers said backups, such as Brandon Lewis, Deatrich Wise and Jamichael Winston at defensive end, are pushing them to get better each and everyday.

"They are coming along very well," he said. "They are buying into coaching and working hard out there and they are working to get our starting spots. That's just the competition level, so they press us to get better and we get better as a team.

"They are all working hard. They are all getting mental reps and physical reps, so they are all doing well."

Arkansas defensive linemen have been quick to compliment positional coach Charlie Partridge as well. Partridge came to Arkansas with Bret Bielema after spending five seasons with him at Wisconsin.

"I really didn't know how great of a person he was," Smith said of Partridge. "I knew how great of a coach he was when he came in, but his personality and the way he teaches us and coaches us is off the charts, too. Plus, he coached a guy named J.J. Watt, so that didn't hurt either.

"He's teaching us all kinds of different moves and techniques and how to stop the run, so we're going to be good."

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