Arkansas Defense Stressing Tackling This Week

Arkansas defense did not play anywhere near as good as it wanted last week, but made a big stand late and has been in a good mood this week while attempting to correct its mistakes n advance of Saturday's game with LSU

Arkansas’ secondary coach Clay Jennings would have loved to have gotten out of Ole Miss in regulation last week and given up a lot less yards and thus a lot less points.

But in the end, the Razorbacks won 53-52 in overtime at Oxford and headed into this week’s game with LSU with a much better frame of mind to make corrections than it would have been.

“The one thing that we can say is that baby is never ugly when it is yours,” Jennings said. “Any win is a good win.

“But the one good thing is that there were some series where we went three-and-out and the kids has some success. Along the way we had some communication errors and some breakdowns.

“We didn’t have as many alignment issues as we might have had in some other games. When they look at the tape, they can say ‘you know what? That is correctable.’ It is not a talent deal, it is not a scheme deal, it is just something of paying attention to detail and getting our job correct.”

The Arkansas defense did hold Ole Miss on their last series of regulation, even giving the offense a chance to kick a game-winning field goal that was blocked and forced overtime.

Karl Roesler had a sack on third down and then D.J. Dean broke up a 4th and 6 pass play.

“It starts with the guys up front,” Jennings said. “Those guys did a great job creating some situations. We got a sack and got some pressure on the ball and then the 4th and 6 we had D.J. Dean do a great job disrupting his receiver, got his eyes back and had an edge set to the defense.

“When they tried to throw the crossing route, he had chance to break and separate the receiver from the ball. 

“Trust me, there are some positives to take out of the game. It may not seem like it, but kids have energy, we got the win and kids know what we have to get better at.”

It certainly has been easier to practice this week after the thrilling victory than it would have been a heart-breaking defeat.

“Any time you can be on the left side of the column instead of the right side, I think the kids have a little bit more juice,” Jennings said. “I think our focus has been good throughout the year as far as weekly preparation. 

“Last week we had great week of practice, but some things just fell apart for us on Saturday. I think our kids are doing a great job coming in week in and week out and emptying the bucket.

“There's nothing to say our kids are playing with any courage or not playing with any heart so we haven’t quit.”

Arkansas let a bunch of Ole Miss offensive players slip through their tackle efforts last week, something that has been emphasized in practice this week.

“We have had a little bit more emphasis on tackling than we had the last couple of weeks and the kids have begun to embrace it and saying ‘hey, we got a chance to get some things done.”

Arkansas has several Louisiana natives on its roster, including two at linebacker in Dwayne Eugene and Khalia Hackett, who are both battling for time at linebacker.

Eugene missed last week with a thumb injury, but hopes to play this week with a different cast than he had on to start the week if he can impress linebacker coach Vernon Hargreaves.

“We have got a couple of guys that we have worked there this week and I am going to make a decision after tomorrow’s practice as to what direction we want to go in there,” Hargreaves said. 

“We have a couple of options. We had some guys banged up so what I am going to sit down tomorrow, probably tomorrow afternoon and make a definitive move on what direction we are going to go in.”

Davyon McKinney has also seen some time at linebacker this week.

“We will see who we feel like gives us the best opportunity to win after tomorrow’s practice and go from there," Hargreaves said.

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