Thursday Grid Update, 9/4

Arkansas defensive coordinator Robb Smith plans to get some young defenders snaps on Saturday, but head coach Bret Bielema said on his statewide radio show Thursday night that freshman wideout JoJo Robinson won't play for a second straight week due to an injury.

As Arkansas tries to end a 10-game losing streak on Saturday, it will have a youth movement going on in the process.

Razorback defensive coordinator Robb Smith said Thursday after practice that all four new linebackers and true freshmen in safety Josh Liddell, nose guard Bijohn Jackson, cornerbacks Henre' Toliver and Cornelius Floud and defensive end Anthony Brown would all be seeing defensive snaps when Nicholls arrives for a 3 p.m start at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

Those linebackers are sophomore Josh Williams and true freshmen Randy Ramsey, Khalia Hackett and Dwayne Eugene.

“Basically all of the younger linebackers have taken reps in and out with our first and second group,” Smith said. “Anthony Brown is a guy that we've injected a little bit with our defensive line. Then Josh Liddell, hopefully get a chance to see a little bit more of him at the safety position. Then we've got the young corners in Henre' and Corn - Cornelius Floyd. Hopefully we can get a chance to get those guys on the field and see what they have to offer.”

Arkansas head coach Brett Bielema mentioned on his statewide radio show Thursday night that freshman wide receiver Kendrick Edwards should play this week, but fellow freshman wideout JoJo Robinson will miss a second straight game.

"He (Robinson) was going to play, but unfortunately  he got stepped on yesterday," Bielema said. "He is not all that big and when you get stepped on and you are not all that big, that is not good."

Nicholls has lost seven games in a row, but does present some problems in terms of having two quarterbacks that can get things done in the running game.

“I tell you what, I thought both their quarterbacks played well," Smith said, "and both of them ran the football pretty well. So this is a team that’s going to make us work. We have to understand what personnel grouping is in the game. we have to do a great job of recognizing formations. At the end of the day we’ve got to get back and get our eyes in the right place and we’ve got to do a much better job of tackling and getting guys on the ground.”

Smith had earlier mentioned the multiple formations that the Colonels bring to the field.

“...I tell you what, we're going to see a lot of different personnel groupings: four wide receivers, 2 RBs, a TE, they're going to mix it up on us,” Smith said. “At the end of the day we've got to come out and play Arkansas defense.”

Asked to describe the Arkansas defense, Smith mentioned setting the edge, pressing the hip and making sure tackles were secure and trying to create some turnovers.

“Yeah, listen this week has been all about us and our improvement,” Smith said. “Whether it's been on Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday, we've worked a lot on setting an edge and pressing the hip. We worked a lot on our tackling. We've got to do a much better job there. We tried to be smarter with our takeaway opportunities and create some more of those. That's where the bulk of our time has been spent. We put some younger guys in the mix this week, excited to see them in action and looking forward to it.”

  Liddell will be used at both free and strong safety to back up starters Rohan Gaines and Alan Turner because fellow safeties DeAndre Coley – who played in just the first half last week - and Davyon McKinney are not likely to play this week due to injuries.

“He's nursing a little bit of a lower leg there,” Smith said of Coley. “Hoping to get him back soon. He's a guy who certainly could help us and would love to get him back in the fold.”

As for McKinney, he is battling a heel issue.

“He's a guy that we're trying to be smart with,” Smith said. “We have high hopes for Sleepy this season. We've got to pick our spots with him, make sure when we finally do get him out there that he's 100 percent.”

Jackson is running second team at nose guard behind Taiwan Johnson.

“I can’t even tell you the exact number (of snaps),” Smith said. “But he’s part of that young group of guys we want to see what they can do. I thought Bijhon did some good things in there. He’s got to work on keeping some gap integrity at times. But he’s a guy we’re excited about and we’ve got to continue to get him better.”

Smith noted that Arkansas had been tackling to the ground this week, but said that was nothing out the ordinary.

“Every week on Tuesday and Wednesday we’ll take a ball carrier to the ground,” Smith said. “We’ve just got to continue to work and get better at it.”

• • •

Bielema was asked about his coaches in the press box getting stuck in the elevator at Auburn at halftime - dubbed Elevator-gate.

“Every stadium that you kind of go through pre-game procedure where you go and you find the elevator," Bielema said. "Like when I first started coaching, I was up in the box for the first six games of my (assistant coaching) career. You go, you find the elevator and you also find a path to the elevator. Lot of times, there are golf carts and they will clear the way or they have a private elevator that guarantees you up and down as soon as you can.

“That was done beforehand and everything was good. But when they went to basically where they needed to be, there wasn't anything private about it. It was kind of just freelance in that area and they got stuck about two floors down it turns out. They said they stayed there anywhere from five to 10 minutes. Unfortunately that came about, but it's not in life how you handle what happens, but it's how you handle the reaction to what happens.

“Our guys did the best that could. A couple of them called in by cell phones. I didn't get a chance to actually meet with my offensive and defensive coaches that were up in the box, but I thought our coaches handled it as best as they could and moved forward.

“It was a little glitch that supposedly, obviously accidental and I have got to believe Auburn for what it says.”

Josh Liddell

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