Thursday Grid Update, 10/23

Arkansas wants to win the turnover battle against Alabama-Birmingham. Ball security is the issue for the offense and finding some takeaways is the key for the defense.

Physicality was emphasized all week in Arkansas practices with thoughts of Alabama-Birmingham's tough nature in mind. But offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said it was about "being what we are" as much as preparation for the Blazers.

Arkansas plays host to UAB's Blazers at 11 a.m. Saturday in Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Defensive coordinator Robb Smith joined Chaney in the interview room Thursday afternoon.

"It was a point of emphasis," Chaney said, but physical play was just part of what the Hogs needed to hit this week after losing seven turnovers over the last two games.

Asked how important ball security is for the Razorbacks, Chaney said, "It's everything. Not just here, but all across college football. We hope to go into this game understanding that."

Smith said it's not just about eliminating turnovers by the offense. The defense needs to provide some help.

"We have to get takeaways," Smith said. "It's something we work on every week and we hit it very hard this week. We've had our opportunities the last few weeks and we didn't capitalize. We have to get some takeaways.

"The way you win football games, you take care of the football and you take it away. That's on our minds."

The Hogs have dropped their share of interceptions in recent weeks, most notably against Alabama.

Chaney said there was special work in the passing game this week to eliminate turnovers. Pass protection was covered at length. He said line coach Sam Pittman worked to fix some issues.

"Sam covered some technical stuff," Chaney said. "I worked to get the ball out of Brandon Allen's hand quicker."

But the Hogs would like to return to a dominant running game and hope not to need the pass as much.

"I hope we don't have to throw it that much," Chaney said, noting there were 40 passes thrown in a 45-32 loss to Georgia.

UAB's defensive scheme calls for press coverage and a complex front.

"It is complicated and they have a new wrinkle every week," Chaney said. "They do like to get in your face. I will say, they don't lack for aggression.

"They have a very good staff and it shows up with effort. That's what they hang their hat on at UAB.

"But we are focused on Arkansas and taking care of the mistakes we've been making and ball security."

Was asked specifically about the practice this week of running back Alex Collins.

"I've seen good things from a lot of people, including Alex," Chaney said. "We've tried to have a good week at finishing blocks."

Smith was asked if it might be a good idea to hold out middle linebacker Brooks Ellis until next week when the Hogs go to Mississippi State. Ellis missed the Georgia game with a bone bruise in the knee area.

"Brooks is a great player," Smith said. "Josh (Williams) does some nice things, but if Brooks is ready to go, we won't keep him on the sidelines."

Smith said it's clear that UAB prefers to run the ball.

"They have been behind some and that's dictated passing," Smith said. "If they had their preference, they'd probably run it 60 percent of the time.

"They do go with a heavy portion of two back and a tight end. And so that may mean we go with three linebackers and that might bring Braylon Mitchell and Randy Ramsey into the game a lot."

Smith was asked about getting Tevin Beanum some work. He's the backup for Trey Flowers.

"Tevin has had a good week of practice, but it's hard to get a lot of opportunities with Trey ahead of him," Smith said.

What about cornerback Tevin Mitchel? He created a scoring chance for Georgia with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on a third down stop.

"Tevin had a little bump in the road, but he's bounced back," Smith said. "He's had a good week. He's studied hard and done the things he's been good at all year. We need him."

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