Arkansas has struggled tackling in its three-game win streak

Arkansas' overtime win at Ole Miss came with mixed results. This story is free courtesy Northwest Arkansas Honda Dealers.

Arkansas' overtime win at Ole Miss came with mixed results. 

The Razorbacks' offense had its best game against a conference opponent in eight years, but the defense struggled to contain the Rebels' offense. Of most concern was the tackling - or lack thereof - by Arkansas, which missed on several tackle opportunities throughout the game. 

"We've got to work smart this week (in practice) to find time where we do tackle and get the job done," Arkansas defensive coordinator Robb Smith said. "That's an obvious place we have to improve."

The Razorbacks' defense has given up more than 500 yards of total offense the last two weeks against Ole Miss and Football Championship Subdivision member Tennessee-Martin, with many yards coming after initial contact. Bielema said each assistant coach talked with players this week about the struggles Arkansas has had tackling and how to correct it. 

"I wanted each one of the coaches to talk to their individual groups with the door shut," Bielema said. "What can we do to make you become better tacklers? Sometimes you'll get in a big room and a dominant voice will come out and nobody else will say anything. It was really cool. We had three coaches come back with different thoughts that we'll implement."

Bielema said Arkansas usually runs through tackling "circuits" two days each week in practice, but only practiced one time the week of the Ole Miss game. The decision was made to minimize the amount of time on the practice field, not unusual for coaches to do late in the season when players' legs are tired.

"In retrospect, we should have had it two days," Bielema said. 

Not only did the Rebels' receivers get into open space several times against the Razorbacks, but Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly also had a career day running the football. Kelly, known for his drop-back passing, rushed for 117 yards and three touchdowns. 

"One of the things that was really apparent was we got so much outside pressure on Kelly that he flashed up the middle real quick," Bielema said. "On a couple of those missed tackles, guys just weren't ready for it. We've tot to simulate that. Tackling a quarterback in the pocket is different than tackling a runner on the outside. 

"Every time we've simulated something like that we've been very productive. You don't have to scrimmage for something like that."

Arkansas' defense will have another challenge at LSU, where Heisman Trophy candidate Leonard Fournette has rushed for 1,383 yards and 16 touchdowns this season. Fournette is a powerful runner and often requires multiple tacklers to go to the ground.

"He's a great running back that has excellent vision and excellent power. He accounts for 40 percent of their total offense, in terms of total yardage," Smith said. "We've got to have people in the box to make plays and when we get there we've got to do a much better job of tackling. That will be our charge this week."


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