Thursday Grid Update, 10/2

Arkansas assistant coaches Robb Smith and Jim Chaney saw players bounce back from a tough loss during practices for the open week. Here's the Thursday grid update.

Arkansas defensive coordinator Robb Smith knows what he will see Saturday when he tunes into watch Alabama. It will be somewhat similar to what Smith faced last year -- in the NFL.

"Alabama has more first rounders than we had at Tampa Bay last year," said Smith, who was linebackers coach for the Bucs last season.

"I haven't faced Alabama before, but I have coached against Nick Saban. I'll volunteer that now because I figure it's coming up next week."

That dates to their time in the Big 10. Smith was at Iowa. That was in Saban's last season at Michigan State.

Smith also knows who will catch the most passes for the Crimson Tide against Ole Miss on Saturday. It should be Amari Cooper, based on season stats.

"Cooper is special," Smith said. "He's caught 43 passes so far. Their next closest in catches has 12. That's amazing.

"They do a great job of putting him in places that make it tough on you to cover him. You have to really pay attention. They'll get in a formation that puts a fullback wide and the next thing you know, you've lined up with a corner on the fullback and you have a linebacker on Cooper. We have to do a great job of paying attention to where he is on the field."

It's not like there are weak points elsewhere, though.

"They have great personnel," Smith said. "Phenomenal. But I look forward to it. I want to play against these kinds of teams. It's like coaching in the NFL."

Smith has seen focus and resolve from his players this week.

"Our attitude has been good," he said. "We played well for a long time against Texas A&M, then gave up big plays at the end. The thing we have to do is just keep doing what we do and sustain it for a little longer. I think mentally, we understand that. The players are really trying to do what we have to do."

Head coach Bret Bielema said the defense had "lying eyes" at the end of the game, leaving their keys.

"The thing that I saw is that we might make a mistake early, maybe one or two, we remind them of their focus and then they stick with it for a long time," Smith said. "Then at the end, some of the eye mistakes begin to creep back in. Mentally, we just have to be tougher.

"I have a lot of sayings, but one of them is that you see what you need to see. It's hard. But you have to just keep doing it and stay on task.

"I've got to help them, too. It's not just players. It's me, too.I've got to give them a right call at the right time."

But, Smith admits that his tendency is to stick to his knitting as far as blitzes and calls.

"I go back to a Dave Wannstedt saying," Smith said, "and that's this: You can't be afraid to get bored.' What that means, don't go off path."

Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney sensed good attitude, too.

"We've had a real good week," Chaney said. "Attitude was good. We did a lot with the young kids and they worked real hard. I didn't see a lot (of young young players) stick out, but they were playing hard."

Chaney got a chance to get more time with true freshman quarterback Rafe Peavey, so far on the redshirt list.

"Rafe did a nice job," Chaney said. "He was able to get us in and out of the huddle a lot cleaner. Rafe is a sponge and takes everything in. He continues to grow week to week."

Chaney said the focus on the quarterback-center exchange was big focus during the week after Brandon Allen fumbled a snap from both Mitch Smothers and Frank Ragnow against Texas A&M.

"It's always a focus, but we dove back in on that hard," he said."We haven't had trouble with that. But we work hard on it every day. You analyze everything you are doing."

Chaney does not second guess the decision to play two centers.

"They are both playing well," he said. "I'm not surprised by Frank's progress. He's a great athlete and has had success in everything he's done. Mitch is playing well, too. I think both of them understand what we want to get done -- and a big part of what we do is identifying the mike linebacker. They both are doing that."

Chaney likes many aspects of what the Hogs did against A&M. He said there were a handful of critical plays that went against the Hogs that went wrong that prevented a victory.

"Really, there were four or five or a handful, if any of them go our way, we win the game," Chaney said. "We didn't get any of them. I think we did a lot of things well, though."

The Alex Collins run to end the game, a lost yardage play on fourth-and-2, was one of the better plays for the day.

"That call was our first touchdown, went for 50 for our second and then we didn't execute it as well on the last play," Chaney said. "We just were not as clean on the last play. We just need to play cleaner at the end of the game. We had executed it clean earlier."

Chaney will be glued to the TV for the Alabama-Ole Miss game.

"I don't know how you couldn't," he said. "Maybe you can see something on TV you wouldn't see (on tape). The guys doing the color may point something out that I might not think of and so I'll be watching."

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