Robb Smith: Hogs Can Tackle Better

UTEP had seven third-down conversions and Robb Smith pointed to poor tackling on all of them. Bret Bielema breaks down the tape from the 48-13 victory in the season opener.

Defensive coordinator Robb Smith thinks he could do a better job of play calling than what took place in the 48-13 victory over Texas-El Paso. But he knows the tackling must improve, too.

"We've established a standard around here of tackling and when we don't hit that standard or those expectations, everyone is disappointed," Smith said.

Bret Bielema said that Smith greeted him Sunday with a breakdown of UTEP's seven third down conversions (in 14 tries) and that in each case a defender was in position to make the tackle before the stakes.

"My defensive coordinator showed me that there was a man in front of the chains each time," Bielema said. "I think we improved our tackling from the first half to the second half and I think that's going to happen going forward, too."

Smith said, "Four of the missed tackles were in space. I have to do a better job of putting guys in the right places, but we have to work to tackle better. I spoke to the defense about that yesterday. We set a standard here on how we want to tackle. We expect better."

There were highlights from the defensive plays. The Hogs allowed just 204 total yards by the Miners. Smith was pleased with the work of middle linebacker Josh Williams, moved from the strongside just 10 days before the opener.

"Josh, I was very impressed with his play," Smith said. "He did a great job of identifying UTEPs sets. There was a lot of unbalanced stuff and Josh was all over it."

There was some discussion two weeks ago of moving Khalia Hackett  back to middle linebacker when the Hogs play an offense with more wide receivers. Toledo, the foe this week, is just such a foe, but Williams will stay in the middle.

"We will have a mike and a will on the field most of the time this week," Smith said. "We'll go with Josh there again this week."

Bielema praised Williams, too.

"Josh showed his quickness and athletic ability," Bielema said. "He's together well with Brooks Ellis. I'm excited to see where Josh can go."

There was a lot of excitement in the opener, but maybe true freshman running back Rawleigh Williams wasn't feeling it Saturday night at dinner.

"My wife and I decided to go get a burger," he said. "We checked on a place and it wasn't crowded, so we went. There in the corner was Rawleigh and his family. So I went over to see them and I thought they would be excited. He's used to celebrating victories and after making a lot of big runs. But he was upset and I think for all of the right reasons. He was like he'd gotten beat by 50."

Williams rushed 16 times for 45 yards, an average of 2.8. His long carry was 8 yards.

"I thought it was all positive," Bielema said. "You saw little glimpses and I think there is a whole other level for him. But in no way was I disappointed in him. I know he didn't break one. I'm happy with him, but I know he can do better. He did pick up a couple of blitzes, very nice plays."

Bielema said it was a case of running the ball when a pass might have been easier.

"There were things (UTEP) was doing on defense," Bielema said. "They were tilting nine into the box and they wanted us to throw it. They were still playing nine in the box at the end of the game and I didn't want to throw it. They kept doing the same things."

At first glance, some wondered if it was poor play by the Arkansas offensive line. Bielema said it was a fine performance by that unit.

"There was not one sack and that was against a variety of pressures," Bielema said. "Brandon Allen was on his tail just twice. The happiest guys on our team is our defensive line because they don't have to go against our offensive line any more, and vice versa.

"They were doing a lot of things to stop our running game. They had one more guy at the line of scrimmage than we did."

Bielema re-instated three suspended players -- wide receiver Jo Jo Robinson, punter Blake Johnson and tight end C.J. O'Grady. Wide Robinson missed the opener because of issues both from the summer and from last week. He was originally scheduled to miss just the first half, but Bielema extended the suspension for a full game. Johnson and O'Grady, both expected to redshirt, were suspended for alcohol-related arrests one week before the opener.

Tight end Alex Voelzke should return this week against Toledo after a back injury sidelined him for the opener. Voelzke is third team behind Hunter Henry and Jeremy Sprinkle but plays in certain packages and is on special teams. Bielema said Voelzke will wear No. 88 this week in honor of the late Garrett Ueckman.

Cornerback Cornelius Floyd is expected to miss another week after sitting out the opener with a hamstring injury.

There could be one lineup change. The depth chart for this week has Jeremiah Ledbetter as co-starter at rush end with Tevin Beanum, the starter in the opener. But Ledbetter might be first on the field.

"There is a good chance (of Ledbetter starting)," Bielema said. "There are some guys who turn it up a notch on game day. Led did that. (A start) is merited, but you will still see a lot of Tevin."

Bielema said the offensive line performed well, but guards Sebastian Tretola and Frank Ragnow along with center Mitch Smothers graded the highest.

"Dan Skipper and Denver Kirkland played well, too, but can do better," Bielema said. "I thought the inside guys did some really good things, passing some things down. It's sometimes difficult to let someone go past your face and let the next one get hi. But they did a good job of that. It's a trust factor."

Bielema also praised backup right tackle Brian Wallace. Playing his first snap as a Razorback, Wallace pancaked his man. Wallace is a redshirt freshman.

Offensive coordinator Dan Enos praised quarterback Brandon Allen, 14 of 18 for 308 yards and four touchdowns in the opener.

"Brandon played well," Enos said. "First, he managed things. We give him a lot of things to do. He recognized the fronts and identified the mike linebacker.

"We would line up and then they would slowly line up their defense. Brandon was very poised and did a great job of communicating what was happening."

Enos liked the pocket presence of his fifth-year senior quarrterback and called him "decisive" in his reads. He was accurate for the most part.

"He missed a couple and the first one to Hunter Henry was a case of him needing to wait one more tick," Enos said. "Then on the next throw, he made an unbelievable throw to Keon Hatcher, a big-time throw.

"What I like is that he's very hungry and very focused. I know he's going to keep working and give his school and his state everything he has."

Enos knows wide receiver Dominique Reed will continue to develop and Allen's mesh will get better.

"Dominique had some chances," Enos said. "He had some chances to stretch the field. We'll keep getting closer and closer. We are going to spend some time on the deep ball with Brandon this week. Dominique is fine and his role will increase."

Bielema praised the work of Henre' Toliver, the nickel back with the athletic interception to start the second half against UTEP.

"I showed our teams three plays on tape," Bielema said. "The first came on the kickoff to start the second half. Sometimes you have a letdown with a short kick, but we had two freshmen make the tackle at the 19. The charts say that you are only going to score 10 percent of the time starting inside your 20. Robb called a blitz on the first play and our defense held the look and Henre' makes a truly special play. Then, our offense scores on the first play when our blockers picked up all but one and Alex made him miss at the 1-yard line.

"Toliver is very talented. He has a knack of getting to the ball and has very soft hands. He tends to be on the confident side and is still growing up."

With Toledo playing a lot of sets with three wide receivers, Toliver will be front and center in the Hogs' coverage plans again this week.

Smith said Toliver's play is "really encouraging. I had some choice words at halftime and I liked the way we came out of the locker room. We made some adjustments. Toliver made a very athletic play."

What was his message at halftime?

"You know me, I'm always G-rated," Smith smiled. "I told them we have to do better.

"On Toliver, he's a great matchup for the slot receiver. He's got excellent coverage skills. That position is on the receiver closest to the quarterback and has to defend the quick throws."


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