Wednesday Update: Robb Smith Likes Attitude

Arkansas defensive coordinator likes carry over after giving the Hogs good marks through three days of workouts in fall camp. Robb Smith met with the media on Wednesday after practice.

Trey Flowers isn't a big talker, but he will drop some pearls of wisdom on his teammates in fall camp. As defensive coordinator Robb Smith said Wednesday, when Flowers talks, everyone gets quiet. He's generally more of a leader by his work.

"But all of our players are going to listen closely when Trey decides to speak up," Smith said. "He's our guy, especially on defense. But the entire team respects Trey."

So has the senior defensive end from Huntsville, Ala., decided it's time to talk yet through three days of fall camp for the Arkansas football team?

"Not yet," Flowers said. "It's been good so far. No need. I'm saving it. It's a little bit out of the box for me to take on that role. I will lead and I know it's my role. But I'm leading by actions so far.

"I want to lead by example for the most part. It's a role of leading all areas of the team, not just defense.

"I've had a few of my teammates encourage me to step up before the team. I will pick my spot. I think it will be after a week or two of camp, when my teammates need a push to get through camp. I will speak and I know they will listen. I will have a little something for them."

The coaches haven't had to ask for a push from their captain just yet, either. Smith has been encouraged by the retention from the spring when he installed a new scheme. He also thinks the older players did a nice job over the summer coaching the youngsters, many of whom have brought some much needed speed to the defense.

Linebacker Martrell Spaight, while revealing one of his secrets to adding some speed to his game, spoke of at least one of the many defensive newcomers, all of whom Smith likes so far.

"Randy Ramsey is going to be something special for us this year," said Spaight, the starter at weakside linebacker and one of the blurs on that side of the ball. "I see great athleticism from Ramsey. His arms are so long and he can really run. I'm fast and I think maybe I'm really faster when I see the ball. But so is Ramsey. I haven't raced him and I may not want to run a 40 beside him.

"I think you will see him do some really great things. He's added to our speed and so have a lot of others. It's a fast bunch of young guys who really give us some great athletic ability."

The secret? Spaight, known for his vicious hitting, took up yoga in the off-season after his father provided him a beginner's DVD.

"I guess you can write about it," Spaight said. "It's going to get out sooner than later. I think it's really helped me. My father talked to me about yoga when I was in junior college and my coach said it would help me. It has. It's surprised me because it really pushes you, increases your breathing and I think helps your flexibility. The first time I did it, I was dripping in sweat."

Spaight admitted that he was not sure what to think about it. Would teammates approve?

"I still lock the door," he said. "The music is soothing, but it's really a tough workout."

Spaight was pleased to learn that coach Nolan Richardson brought in a yoga instructor during the glory years of Arkansas basketball.

"I listened to my dad on this one," Spaight said. "He was right. I wasn't comfortable about it at first. But he was right."

Spaight was more comfortable talking about the improvement he's seen from his teammates, especially where it comes to sense of urgency, the number one phrase used by the defensive coordinator.

"The continuity from spring to now has been huge," Spaight said. "We have all shown that we know our style of play. We know tendencies. It's been a major thing. This summer, we were challenged mentally in the film room. And, that's helped us on the field to play with a sense of urgency. When you know your assignments, it all happens faster.

"We hear sense of urgency every day from Coach Smith. It's even in the meeting rooms. If he calls on someone to come to the front of the room to demonstrate something, he wants us there fast, sense of urgency he says. We are sprinting to the ball, playing downhill and then sprinting back to the huddle."

Smith was asked to pick one word to describe the first three days of camp. He said he couldn't. He asked for a chance to expand it to two, but then used three.

"I'm going to cheat and go with two, sense of urgency," he said, laughing when he realized that he went to three. "I was good in math, but it failed me now."

There have been no failing grades so far.

"Our ones have been really good as far as carry over," he said. "All areas. Our twos need to step it up, but we'll get them there. And, I'm pleased with what I've seen from all of the new ones."

That goes for junior college transfer Josh Williams, working at middle linebacker for now.

"We are just in evaluation stage with the young ones and we haven't tackled yet," Smith said. "That comes Saturday when we scrimmage. We started to play football a little today, thudding it up some with shoulder pads. But we'll know more when we get to tackle to the ground.

"Josh has really worked hard to learn everything this summer. He flashed some the last three days. He's got a long way to go, as he would tell you. But we think he can help us. We are starting with him inside, then we'll see what he can do outside. We are just going to keep pushing to find out how he best helps us."

Smith was pleased with the way the entire secondary played. He's enjoyed the work of long-armed freshman Santos Ramirez, thought to be a safety but getting his first looks at cornerback.

"You want to make sure they can't play cornerback first," Smith said. "We can always move him inside. But you like to get a corner with long arms and see if they can disrupt the ball in the air. We think he can do that. He likes to come down on a wide receiver and get his hands on them. So we wanted to see if he can be a corner. We think he can."

Smith declined to pick out one of the young linebackers, noting he likes all three. But he said Ramsey definitely shows speed and length. He praised the work of redshirt freshman De'Andre Coley at safety.

"Like I said, all of the guys in the secondary seemed to make a play today, but Coley flashed," Smith said. "We want to see him become more consistent. As you know, you miss a play back there and the other team's band is going to be playing. But he's progressed since spring. He keeps coming."

Is Coley at free or strong?

"Really, in our system, you have to know both because we sometimes play double high," he said. "They are going to play both. I like what our ones have done so far. Alan Turner continues to make plays. Rohan Gaines was close to some great plays today and he's going to get his (share) this year."

Smith sees one thing that pleases him much. The defensive scheme seems to be taking hold in a critical area, the ability to set the edge.

"That's the thing that I like, attitude and the ability to improve setting the edge and leverage," Smith said. "Then, I want to see sense of urgency. I have seen that so far. We have not installed much. We are trying to get the basics down in our scheme and evaluate the young ones. Let's don't freeze them by giving them too much. There are times the young ones are lost, but they've done well for the most part."

Spaight agrees.

"I don't think we set the edge last year," Spaight said. "I know -- and I'm talking about linebackers -- we let people get outside of us too easily. Now, we don't.

"What this Arkansas defense is about is simple. We set the edge, have nine bringing leverage and one with the pursuit angle. That's what we are all about. I think we can do that."

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