Tackling Must Improve for Hogs

Arkansas players know their tackling system will work, but the fundamentals must be applied. That was the focus this week in Toledo preparations, Josh Liddell said Wednesday night after practice.

Robb Smith pointed to the Arkansas defensive standards for tackling earlier this week. Josh Liddell said those will be met, no ifs, and or buts. The sophomore free safety said everyone will improve this week and he included himself.

"We went back to our system," Liddell said. "I think we did better in the second half, but we were not good. I was not very good. My tackling was not up to our standards."

The Hogs play Toledo in Little Rock on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m.

Liddell pointed to two of his own missed tackles, but knows there were others joining him on whiffs in the 48-13 victory over Texas-El Paso. And, he knows there will be more opportunities this week against a Toledo offense that is predicated on putting a secondary into open space situations with quick throws.

"My technique was not good," Liddell said. "I had two. I came in with my head down. You can't do that. You have to have your head up and then you bring your arms and your feet."

Secondary coach Clay Jennings said there were "six missed tackles total and if you have one, that's one too many. We worked hard on our system this week."

Defensive end JaMichael Winston said the system is clear and easy to utilize.

"First, you bite the ball," he said. "That's if you come in from the front. If you are behind, you wrap up and roll. If it's a runaway, you can sweep the feet. It's clear cut.

"What I think, we will get some guys on the ground this week. We are going to make some tackles. We look forward to it."

Jennings said some of it just comes down to the way the secondary played with their eyes.

"We are going to see a lot of play action from Toledo on first and second down," he said. "We were not very good with our eyes last week. We saw that on tape. This week, we have to do a better job. We worked on that."

Linebackers coach Vernon Hargreaves said the system takes care of most issues that popped up last week.

"We can rely on our system," he said. "First, you have to come to balance, then press the hips. We are going to use the system and the right parts of it at the right time. We'll tackle better."

Liddell was surprised, but looks back at camp and the lack of scrimmaging.

"We really didn't have much of a camp," Liddell said. "There weren't many chances. We knew coming in that we are going to get better as the season goes along. The games are our scrimmages. And, we will get better. We just had too many mistakes, though.

"We know this week will be a little different. They have a quarterback who is going to make quick reads, quick throws. It's three-step drops. We know we are going to see slants and we have to get to the ball."

Winston said that's the focus for the ends.

"It's about reacting to the ball and getting there," Winston said, who noted that he was wrong on his reads on a couple of plays against UTEP.

"I got sucked in on two reverses. I didn't miss two tackles, but I came in on reverses twice and they went around us."

Defensive line coach Rory Segrest explained some depth chart changes with his group. Jeremiah Ledbetter will start ahead of Tevin Beanum at the rush end, but Segrest said there really wasn't much difference in their grades.

"Jeremiah led the team in tackles, so he was a little more productive," Segrest said. "But Tevin graded about the same. They were both good. We expect improvement, but they both played well. But as far as Led starting, he earned that just on production."

There was another depth chart change, but not involving a starting assignment. Bijhon Jackson moved from tackle to nose tackle and will play more snaps. Freshman Hjalte Froholdt moves to the three technique and will be joint backup with Mitchell Loewen. Loewen is slated for more action at tackle behind starter Taiwan Johnson.

"We've got our two freshmen, Hjalte and Armon (Watts), behind older players now and Bijhon and Mitch are going to play more. They are just more experienced. Mitch is going to play more at the three technique. He actually played more at rush end last week, but we will get him more snaps inside. He's big enough and does well there."

Hargreaves said that Josh Williams got most of the snaps at middle linebacker last week because Josh Harris was fighting through a sore hamstring.

"We did get Josh Harris in some at the end and I think his hamstring is a lot better this week," Hargreaves said. "But he had missed some time leading up to the first game. Going in, he was limited."

Hargreaves was pleased with the work of Josh Williams against UTEP.

"He did well," Hargreaves said. "He got us lined up right. He wads poised. I think he'll get better going forward. He did run to the ball. He came off the edge and made some plays. He's gaining more confidence after moving back there from (strongside linebacker) in camp. He's into it. I thought he made the transition back inside real well."

Hargreaves expects Brooks Ellis (7 tackles) to make a few more plays this week against Toledo's space offense.

"I think what you saw is that maybe a team stayed away from one of our best players," Hargreaves said. "This will be more of a space game. I think you will see him excel."

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