Secondary Concerns

Against Louisiana-Monroe's pass-oriented spread offense, Arkansas' defensive backs were exposed to an extent.

They weren't completely putrid, but did seem to be a step behind ULM's rangy receivers for most of the Razorbacks' 49-20 win Saturday night in War Memorial Stadium.

"We got baptized," said Arkansas secondary coach Bobby Allen. "There's no doubt about it. We got baptized, especially in the first half."

Allen said he noticed a possible problem well before the first snap.

"Film lies sometimes," Allen said. "Watching Monroe warming up and running their routes, I knew their speed was pretty good, so I tried to warn our guys."

Indians quarterback Steven Jyles, who was 16 of 22 for just 96 yards in a 31-0 loss at Auburn in the season opener, scrambled well enough to buy time to pick apart the Hogs' secondary.

"It makes our job a lot harder when there's a scrambling quarterback," said Hogs junior cornerback Darius Vinnett. "He was running around so much that it was hard to stay with our receiver the whole time."

In the first half alone, Jyles was 13 of 25 for 278 yards and a touchdown. That was more than New Mexico State (161 yards) and Texas (150) had against the Hogs in four quarters. He was limited to just 20 yards passing in the second half.

"They really tested us," said sophomore cornerback Michael Coe. "The first two teams really didn't try to pass that much. The times they did try it, we held our own.

"But this time, we didn't come to play until later on and we can't do that."

The biggest first-half play was a 77-yard touchdown strike to 6-foot-6 receiver Drouzo Quillen in which Vinnett was beaten on a go route down the sidelines.

"We just wasn't ourselves in that first half," Vinnett said. "We were playing real sloppy, so we had to kind of check ourselves."

Jyles also completed passes of 50 yards to Joey Trappey and 32 to Quillen with Coe defending both plays.

"I was just out there trying to play aggressive," Coe said. "We just had our eyes in the wrong spot. We dropped some routes, but a lot of times, they were just making good throws and good catches.

"When the ball is thrown perfect, the only thing you can hope to do is make a perfect play."

The aggressiveness paid off later in the half when pressure on Jyles by Keith Jackson Jr. led to an interception by Coe early in the second quarter. It was Coe's first career interception and the first by an Arkansas defensive back this season.

"I just read a go route and stayed with it the whole way," Coe said. "I think I beat him to the ball that time."

The secondary tightened up even more after making some halftime adjustments.

It resulted in another pick early in the third when the Indians tried a reverse option pass. Vickiel Vaughn deflected the pass attempt from receiver Floyd Smith into the hands of safety Lerinezo Robinson.

"The biggest thing was just finding out what they were doing with their formation," Allen said. "They were trying to get the one-on-one matchups, so we tried to eliminate that a little bit and we were playing a little bit more two-deep.

"We just settled in a played some old cover-2 just to try to take them out of that stuff because that was what they were trying to do."

Robinson intercepted his second pass with six minutes remaining in the third quarter when he stepped in front of a Jyles' pass to the end zone and returned it 29 yards.

"They knew we had a young secondary," said Robinson, who also had a team-high six tackles. "And they matched up their receivers well with our corners because they had some really tall receivers and took advantage of that.

"But we turned it around in the second half."

After the Hogs built a comfortable 42-20 lead late in the third, Coe was replaced by true freshman Matterral Richardson. Another true freshman, Michael Grant, also got some late work in Vinnett's place when ULM brought in reserve quarterback Jesse Blair.

"I've been telling those guys all along that I have to get them ready," Allen said. "Going into the Alabama game (this Saturday in the Hogs' Southeastern Conference opener in Fayetteville) and the rest of the SEC, they are going to have to go out there and be guys that we can count on to go out there and spell whoever's playing.

"It's just going to be too tough and too physical to think that any one person is going to hold up for the next eight ball games."

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