Defensive Questions Abound

Arkansas begins spring workouts on Monday with major questions to be answered on the defensive side of the ball.

Here's the first question in my mind concerning spring drills, set to begin Monday.

Will Reggie Herring pick the same players?

There's two ways to look at that question. First, will he be successful in installing a new attitude concerning accountability and effort, his major goal after arriving as the Hogs' new defensive coordinator in December? And, will he stir the pot and put different players in different positions, something he said he needs to do to add speed to the defense?

By that, I wonder if Reggie Herring will pick different guys than some have picked in the past? Or, will we look like the same team as far as personnel.?

Will Vickiel Vaughn still be the top safety on the team? Will Jeremy Harrell still be the top interior defensive linemen (with the departion of Arrion Dixon)?

I don't mean that those two are the most burning questions of the spring because they aren't in my mind. The key question this spring as far as defense will be whether or not Herring can stir the defense enough to generate some pass rush without an 8-man blitz.

The lack of a pass rush with our defense has been the problem that has kept our defensive team on the field the past four seasons. Somehow we have to be able to pressure the QB with five men rushing, and not six or seven or eight. I know it would be nice to do it with a four-man rush, but not many can do that. You must have a great one, someone like David Pollack, to do that. I don't see a great one on the horizon just yet.

Will moving Marcus Harrison inside to tackle help the pass rush? Will moving Desmond Sims to defensive end help the pass rush? Will Jamal Anderson's added beef and strength (he's up to a shade over 260 now) make him a difference maker at defensive end? Will Fred Bledsoe be in good enough shape to be effective in the interior of the defensive line for an entire series? Can Michael Tate, one of the many exciting defendes coming of a redshirt, make an impact at defensive end.

Those are some of the questions I have for this defense. I'm also anxious (and that means excitement and anxiety) over the linebacker situation. That's Herring's position. What kind of mental transformation has he been able to do with those guys? That was one of the weaknesses of the defense last year and there hasn't been an infusion of talent there yet.

Of course, I'm anxious (again that word contains anxiety and excitement) over what the secondary will be like in spring number one for most of the players. Can Michael Grant, Matterral Richardson and Shedrick Johnson play tight bump and run on a consistent basis?

There is another question that involves the intangibles that are important in football. Who will be the leaders on this defense? Some have suggested safety Vickiel Vaughn has been a leader during offseason workouts. He's a senior and that is a good sign. I suspect cornerback Darius Vinnett will be a leader, too. His work ethic is solid.

Those are some of the questions about the defense that will be on my mind as I head to practice Monday afternoon and throughout these 15 spring workouts.


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