Vaughn To Coach Safeties, Allen Cornerbacks

FAYETTEVILLE -- It was no secret that Arkansas' secondary would struggle last season after losing its top seven contributors to graduation or the NFL Draft.

But after a young and inexperienced unit served as the weak spot of a defense that surrendered 397.2 yards a game, Arkansas coach Houston Nutt believes it will benefit with another set of eyes watching in 2005.

That's why Nutt and new defensive coordinator Reggie Herring agreed that assistants Bobby Allen and Chris Vaughn will split duties in the secondary next season. Allen, who coached defensive backs in 2004, is slated to coach cornerbacks. Vaughn, who handled inside linebackers last season, will coach safeties.

"I think it gives (defensive backs) a lot of individual attention, gives them another set of eyes back there," Nutt said. "Bobby's experience will help Chris. Reggie's experience is going to help everybody. It's just going to be a good fit I believe."

The switch means Herring will coach all three linebacker positions. Tracy Rocker will continue duties as Arkansas' defensive line coach.

Nutt said he doesn't anticipate any other changes to the Arkansas staff and his offensive assistants will to continue in their current roles.

The change in Arkansas' secondary came after three teams -- Louisiana-Monroe, Florida and Georgia -- threw for more than 300 yards against the Razorbacks last season. The Hogs also allowed opponents to complete 60 percent of their passes (172 of 287) and collected just six interceptions in 11 games.

"You can watch (one position) all the time instead of watch four guys run around, which make it easier," Allen said about the changes. "When you go to practice you can spend more individual time with just that position. This is kind of what they do in the NFL and that's kind of what Reggie got accustomed to with the Houston Texans.

"That's how he wanted to do it coming in here. Let's go."

It won't be a drastic change for Allen, who has worked with every defensive position in his seven seasons with the Hogs.

He coached inside linebackers in 1998 and 1999, handled linebackers in 2000, moved to the defensive line in 2001 and returned to middle and strongside linebackers in 2002. Allen coached cornerbacks and free safeties in 2003 and added Arkansas' strong safeties to his resume last season.

Vaughn, who also serves as Arkansas' recruiting coordinator, has coached safeties, outside linebackers and inside linebackers in his five seasons. He was hired to coach outside linebackers in 2000, but also tutored strong safeties from 2001-03.

"I'm excited about the opportunity to get to the back end," Vaughn said. "I think anytime you can have two coaches in the secondary, it's always going to help. It's hard to see the whole field all the time.

"Coach Allen is my mentor. He coached me when I came to Arkansas as a grad assistant (in 1999). I'm looking forward to getting with him and working even more."

Nutt said Herring has met with all three defensive coaches individually to talk about football, techniques, his philosophies and expectations for next season. Allen said the Hogs will miss former defensive coordinator Dave Wommack -- who was fired earlier this month -- but Herring will be a "very nice fit."

Herring will coach linebackers in a scheme that'll return to a traditional 4-3-3 base with strongside, weakside and middle linebackers. Arkansas primarily used a 4-2-5 system last season with John Jackson, John Johnson or Kevin Woods playing a linebacker/safety hybrid.

"We've done this once before, but Reggie just feels like it's better to have four eyes back there in the (secondary)," Nutt said. "He handles the linebackers. Reggie knows exactly what he wants. There's going to be a little learning involved, but it won't be hard. I think it'll be a very quick, smooth transition.

"Reggie felt very good about it after meeting with them. He just felt like it could be a very, very good fit."

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