Jason Ivester

State of the Hogs: Paul Rhoads Impresses as Teacher on First Day

Paul Rhoads impressed as a teacher in his first day of spring drills as new secondary coach at Arkansas. Rhoads worked early in practice on technique for press coverage.

There was little doubt that Paul Rhoads is a teacher after watching the first 20 minutes of practice Tuesday afternoon, his first with the Arkansas football team.

Rhoads is coaching the Arkansas secondary after serving as head coach at Iowa State the last seven seasons. His background prior to that is as a secondary coach and defensive coordinator.

Rhoads spent much of the first 20 minutes with the cornerbacks working on how to handle stance in press coverage. He was coaching the finer points of hand-to-hand combat as the receiver comes off the line of scrimmage, taking into account the strong foot of each receiver.

It was clear that he wanted his corners to know which step each receiver favors as his plant foot, and then how to take on that step as the receiver comes off the line. He preached that all receivers favor one foot or the other.

Rhoads demonstrated the specifics of the catch and fight move in the press coverage segment, then moved into players doing it themselves with corrections coming quickly from Rhoads as each player went through the drill

Rhoads seemed to embrace the next segment of the first 20 minutes, the open part to the media. That was his station in Robb Smith's tackling system drill. Rhoads told this reporter earlier this spring that the system was excellent and an advancement in what he's used in tackling drills previously. It was clear that he loved the station that he was coaching in the system.

Arkansas has gotten themselves a fine technique coach in their new secondary coach. It took only 20 minutes to confirm that much for the start of spring drills.

In brief observations of the other two new coaches on Bret Bielema's staff -- offensive line coach Kurt Anderson and running backs coach Reggie Mitchell -- this is a fine collection of teachers. It was clear that they were handling things in fine fashion, too.

Bielema has said twice in the last two weeks that he thinks he's assembled his best staff. The new assistants have meshed well with their respective coordinators, Dan Enos on offense and Robb Smith on defense.


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