Anyone who watched the Arkansas defense last season knows that spread teams that fling the ball around gave the Razorbacks fits last season.
That’s why a major portion of spring practice has been spent getting the linebackers and secondary improved when the ball is in the air.
Sophomore linebacker Dre Greenlaw, who was a safety at Fayetteville High, knows it was one of his and the team’s biggest weaknesses in 2015.
“I feel like we have worked on that big time,” Greenlaw said. “Just being able to get in our zone and drop and set our feet. I feel like I had a big problem with that last year.
“I was kind of still in my safety days and when I would look at the quarterback, I would kind of roam around a little bit and it would get me out of my position. Coach really emphasizes on setting my feet and staying square and reading the quarterback’s eyes. I feel like that will make a huge impact.”
Razorback cornerback Jared Collins knows there were too many big plays given up last season by his squad.
“We are really focusing on limiting big plays this year,” Collins said. “Last year we had more than we had two years ago so we are trying to focus on cutting that number in half and getting that number down.”
Collins believes that last year’s struggles were a matter of confidence.
“I think we lacked confidence sometimes and if you don’t believe you can do it then more than likely you are not going to do it,” Collins said. “We just have to learn our playbook, learn our plays and be confident in what we do.”
Kevin Richardson, who plays all the positions in the secondary, believes that the big plays allowed are fixable and he believes that new secondary coach and former Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads will aid greatly in that.
“It wasn't necessarily disappointing,” Richardson said. “We just saw room for improvement and to get Coach Rhoads, he's focusing on the things we need to improve. We're happy to see he's really concentrating on everybody individually to see what we need to fix. We're ready to showcase what he's taught us so far in the fall.”
Greenlaw - who has been bothered by a hip flexor - hopes he will be able to participate in the scrimmage on Saturday at 11 a.m.
“If I keep getting better and keep improving - as far as my health wise then I feel like Saturday is going to be big just mentally and physically,” Greenlaw said.
He noted that Arkansas’ focus is being in the right spot and getting to the football.
“I feel it is about our keys and just lining up and just make sure we are getting the call and playing with fanatical effort,” Greenlaw said. “Just make sure we are running to the ball and smart swarming.”
Greenlaw saw his weight get a little too high in the winter.
“Last year I was around 221, 222,” Greenlaw said. “I ended up getting as big as 240, but I cut it down so I am around 230 to 235 right now.”
He has taken what linebacker coach Vernon Hargreaves said to heart.
“For the most part, me and him have been talking about not only just making the plays that I should make, but being able to do things at the next level,” Greenlaw said. “Instead of just boxing a guy and doing my job, being able to fall back and still making the tackle and being more productive.”