Arkansas secondary coach Clay Jennings knows Hogs have to tackle better against A&M

Arkansas secondary coach Clay Jennings said it's about getting more defenders to the football, but also being better with the first tackler.

Arkansas worked on getting to the ball faster after failing to force a punt last week in a 35-24 loss to Texas Tech. But, secondary coach Clay Jennings said the first man has to tackle better this week against Texas A&M.

"It's like the deer hunter," he said. "The guy is on the stand and has the deer in his sights, but he may be out of range. That's how we were with our tackling last week."

In other words, defenders were diving for chances at cut tackles before they were close enough to make the right hit.

"We were shooting our hands and diving," Jennings said. "It's about taking two more steps and wrapping your hands around them. You can't dive before you are there."

Jennings was asked if there were any defensive players who graded well in his bunch.

"No, there were not," he said. "We've got to get off the field on third down. There were lots of times when we had the ball carrier in front of the stakes and we didn't make the tackle.

"It's about setting the edge of the defense. Our corners did not do that. If you don't set the edge, you are not going to be able to press the hip and have any leverage. You must set the edge.

"So what you had was every time, we had eyes in the wrong place. If you needed to be inside, the eyes were outside. It's about doing the tackling system exactly right and we didn't."

Cornerback Jared Collins knows there were times that he was guilty of doing exactly what the coach said were the mistakes of the defense.

"The quarterback got outside on a big third down, a scramble," he said. "I came up and took the inside. That let him get to the outside and get the first down. I had to set the edge and didn't."

Collins is playing with his right hand in a cast, something that may have hindered his tackling.

"I'm getting used to it," he said. "I think I'm better with it this week than last week. But I have to get my arms around the ball carrier. I am better at it now than I was when I first got the cast."

Linebackers coach Vernon Hargreaves said it's also a matter of getting to the football. A big focus this week has been effort.

"We worked on Smart Swarm this week," Hargreaves said. "We have to do a better job of getting to the ball. That's been the emphasis and we want that to show up this week in the game."

Freshman linebacker Dre Greenlaw, now the starter on the weakside, saw that the last two days.

"We ran to the ball," Greenlaw said. "They wanted to make sure, so sometimes today there was no whistle. Even after the play was over, we are going to keep moving to the ball. With no whistle, you keep going.

"It was about our tackling system. Corners are going to set the edge. Linebackers, we are going to press the hip. We missed some one-on-one tackles last week and that's why the Smart Swarm is so important."

Hargreaves said Greenlaw made some mistakes in his first start.

"You are going to have that from a freshman, so you just keep working with him, keep teaching," he said. "Just give him as many looks as possible."

Jennings said the emphasis this week is to slow down in the teaching in all areas of the defense.

"Maybe we have been going too fast through some things," Jennings said. "So this week, we've made sure to teach them a little more and given them more looks at everything."

The good news is that Texas A&M's offensive system is similar to Tech's.

"A lot of the same things," Jennings said. "Now, I would say the athletes are bigger. They are longer and bigger. They may not have the quick jitterbugs that Tech has, but they are still athletic."

Collins said there are still a lot of playmakers.

"I think we have to do a better job of disrupting them at the line," he said. "We didn't play a lot of press and you might not in zone, but we still have to get our hands on them. They have some guys who are possession type receivers and can go up in the air and make plays. And, they have some guys who are good on the deep routes."


Hawgs Daily Top Stories