Arkansas faces an old foe Saturday in Lubock, former conference rival Texas Tech. The Hogs and Red Raiders hammered on each other in the Southwest Conference.
First-year defensive coordinator Robb Smith knows all about Tech and head coach Kliff Kingsbury. He recalls coaching at Iowa against a Kingsbury-quarterbacked Tech team in the 2001 Alamo Bowl.
"We were running the same defense we are in now," Smith said Sunday night after reviewing with the media the Hogs' 73-7 victory over Nicholls. "Coach Kingsbury was running their offense and we won, 19-13."
Smith thinks the Hogs are in better shape to handle a spread team than two weeks ago when Auburn took liberties running and passing in a 45-21 opener.
"Our passing defense must keep improving," Smith said. "We have to get our eyes in the right places. We were better Saturday (against Nicholls). The eyes in the back end have to be in the right place.
"We have to get our hands on receivers and re-route them. Tech has some of the same concepts (as Auburn), but I think we are getting better. Some of the things we worked hard on last week I saw us get better at in this game."
One of those was the reduction in missed tackles and there was an easy answer for how the defense improved.
"I call it lack of swarm," Smith said. "And, we had only two plays where we didn't have swarm. We want it to be zero and so we are still a work in progress in that area."
The defense was missing three key players Deatrich Wise, Davyon McKinney, Randy Ramsey and Tevin Mitchel against Nicholls. Some of those may return against Tech.
"I think we are going to get some guys back who can help us," Smith said. "I like where we are with this (defensive) team. We made a great week of progress."
Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney was pleased with the point production.
"We came out with a lot of energy and had a lot of success early," Chaney said. "We had our way with them. We got some things cleaned up from the first week, some of the details and nuances. Our receivers caught the ball well."
Chaney liked what he saw of offensive linemen Cameron Jefferson, now a part-time tight end.
"We think he earned his way onto the field," Chaney said. "We were looking for some mass at (tight end)."
Chaney said both quarterbacks executed the proper checks at the line of scrimmage. He was particularly pleased that backup Austin Allen showed ability there.
"Austin missed a couple of throws and he'll get it over the linebacker (on the pass that was intercepted) the next time," Chaney said. "He did give us some nice check-with-me plays on the running game."
Chaney said he's coached in the Tech stadium and spent several Christmas trips nearby.
"My mom is from Idalou, about 11 miles south of town," Chaney said. "I've coached there, too, and I don't think those went too well. But I've had some great trips there (for Christmas)."
Chaney was asked if there were any elevator issues at the home stadium after getting stuck at Auburn.
"No, I don't remember any," Chaney said. "We went up the elevator in the south end zone before the game. Then, we used the one behind the press box at halftime. They worked great."
Both Chaney and Smith said they stayed up late to watch Tech's victory over UTEP, but admitted they may have dozed away in the final minutes. The game didn't start until 10 p.m.
"It's hard to get everything off of TV, but I did get the tempo," Smith said. "I got a second look of everything this morning and I'll get a third look tonight.
"What you want to see (on the coaches' tape) is the splits and that's what we want our team to study because they show a lot," Smith said. "The thing I was watching on TV, just to see if their receivers were going to the same sides as last year."
Chaney said he saw a UTEP offense that "tried to be physical. That's what I noticed on the TV. But I have to be honest, I didn't make it to the last play. It was a long day. I was up early and on it, though."
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