One of the worries for Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring concerns backup play at linebacker. There is a thin nature of the linebacker depth chart.
But with the way Weston Dacus has performed late in spring drills, over the summer and through three workouts this fall, Herring doesn't fret as much.
"We've got a fourth starter there with Wes," Herring said. "He knows mike and he knows the Sam and Will spots, too. We've got some depth at all three spots with Wes. He's matured and he's a football player with knowledge at the three spots."
That gives Herring some time to get his freshmen linebackers ready. He's in a much better situation than last year when Pierre Brown went down against Vandy and true frosh Freddie Fairchild had to start the next week against Southern Cal.
The Hogs list true freshmen Chip Gregory and Ryan Powers as backups at outside linebacker for the moment, but in reality Dacus would play before either of them.
"I have to know their positions anyway even when I'm at mike," Dacus said. "I have to be able to tell them on each call what they have to do. Of course, I know mike better, but I know the outside slots, too."
Dacus has a new look this fall. He shaved his curly dark locks several weeks ago when the July heat settled in.
"I just got up one morning and decided I could do things quicker if I didn't have to mess with my hair," he said. "I left the goatee, but I shaved the hair. Didn't need it. I just can take a wash rag and run it over my head and I'm ready to go in the morning.
"And, it makes my helmet fit better. With the hair, I'd get headaches after practice. I think there is more roomm inside the helmet without the hair and the helmet fits easier. No more headaches. It's a football haircut, I guess.
"My mom hasn't seen it just yet, but I think it will be fine with her. It's a good summer cut, nice and cool."
Herring likes the look.
"I think it's about maturing as a person," Herring said. "I had all these long, curly blonde locks when I was in high school. I was so proud of all my long hair. It was touching my shoulder when I was about a junior in high school. Then I cut it all off. I realized I didn't need that hair.
"Hair is about making a statement, trying to be someone. I think him cutting the hair was a symbol, a statement that he was growing up. You can tell he's a new person this year.
"He's become a different person, a team man. What you want is to have everyone on the same page, no selfishness. He's definitely not selfish. I think it was a jesture of a new focus and it's something he didn't even have to say. He just did it."
Dacus is excited about the Hogs' prospects this season.
"I think we are a different team this year," he said. "We are on the same page. I don't think teams can just blow us off this year. They better be ready for us.
"I think it's a hunger we have this year. We are hungry to play Southern Cal."
As Weston Dacus spoke those last words, his eye brows raised both times when hunger came out. Some wrinkles appeared on his shaved, smooth scalp.
"We needed that Southern Cal game last year," he said. "We needed to be humiliated like that to get our attention. We want to play them again. It's a few more days to go and we get that chance. We've got a clock in this building that is counting down the days. We didn't need it, but it's there just the same. We've heard a lot about that game in the last year."
The Trojans may see a different Arkansas team. They will definitely see a new Weston Dacus.
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