Defense Struggles Early Against The Run

FAYETTEVILLE -- Following a touchdown run by Peyton Hillis, Arkansas defensive lineman Marcus Harrison repeatedly gave a throat-slashing gesture on the sideline in the closing minutes of the Hogs' 27-10 win against Alabama.

"That was a sign saying that it was over," said Harrison, a true freshman who had six tackles. "I couldn't do it on the field, because I knew that would be a penalty, but I had to so something to celebrate a little."

There wasn't much to celebrate early as the Tide consistently rolled through Arkansas' defense with power-running plays.

They rushed for 271 yards -- including 176 in the first half -- with tailback Ray Hudson's 170 yards on 20 carries leading the way.

"We bent, but we didn't break," said sophomore cornerback Michael Coe, who had a key second quarter interception. "We were gang-tackling out there because the first guy would hit them, but not wrap up.

"We've got to shape up our tackling."

Tackling, or lack there of, was the focus of the Hogs' half time talk.

"They had some good (Southeastern Conference) backs and you can't arm tackle a good SEC back," said senior defensive tackle Arrion Dixon. "We were getting to them in the first half, we just weren't really wrapping up on a lot of plays. Most of those yards were after initial contact, but we did a better job of focusing on getting them down or holding them up so we could gang tackle them in the second half."

Alabama's lean offensive line (which averages just under 300-pounds across the front) had a lot to do with it, too.

"You didn't see any fat on them," said defensive coordinator Dave Wommack. "They were all nice, tall and lean guys that can run and move, but that's the way it's going to be in the SEC and we've got to do a better job, as far as a complete game, at being able to stop the run."

Linebacker Pierre Brown said the offensive line didn't always give the Razorbacks the look they were expecting.

"We're a really fast defense and they took that away," Brown said. "They ran a few different schemes with the offensive line that played with our minds a little bit. Plays where guys were supposed to pull, they weren't pulling.

"So you're reading the guy that's supposed to pull, but he's staying home and they basically ran the ball right back to where you were at."

Hogs defensive end Jeb Huckeba went head-to-head with All-American left tackle Justin Britt (6-foot-8, 298 pounds) and often took a knee to catch his breath when the offense was on the field.

"He's a big boy," said Huckeba, who said the hug from a Razorback cheerleader after the game felt a lot better than being locked up with Britt for four quarters. "Technique beats big players, so that's what we did. When you can beat his hands and get your hands inside, you can do a lot of things no matter how big the guy is.

"He's one the best in the country and when you can be successful against guys like that, it really helps your confidence on the D-line."

Alabama's only touchdown came on a 63-yard Hudson run that he was able to bounce to the outside.

"We gave up that one big play," Huckeba said. "When you think about it, if we don't give up that big play, that's a pretty solid defensive performance."

Take away the long run and the first-half arm tackling, and it was a decent outing.

"We shut their run down and put them in passing situations in the second half," Huckeba said. "And when you can do that against a team who's main job is running it, then you set yourself up to be successful."

Harrison was just excited to signal it was over.

"Alabama's in the books," Harrison said. "We had some problems, but we learned from it and the main thing is that we're 1-0 in the SEC and it's time to look towards Florida next Saturday."

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