UA Coaches Put Pressure On Defensive Linemen

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas' defensive linemen had a difficult time getting to Troy quarterback Omar Haugabook in last Saturday's season opener.

So Arkansas' coaches have been applying their own pressure over the past few days. They've gotten on the defensive linemen in practice and in meetings, and it might be a few more days before they let up.

"They jumped on us, saying, 'It starts up front,'" Arkansas defensive end Chris Wade said. "(We) need to at least get more pressure on that quarterback."

Getting a sack wouldn't be bad, either.

Arkansas' defensive line, which features two new starters at defensive end, failed to record a single sack in the 46-26 win in Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

The No. 18 Razorbacks (1-0) sacked Haugabook just once and that came from middle linebacker Weston Dacus.

There were times when Arkansas' defensive linemen got into the backfield, but they couldn't get their hands on Haugabook.

The quarterback eluded them with his mobility, and given the time in the pocket, he was able to find his wide receivers on several long passes in the first half.

"The pass rush has got to get better," Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring said. "I thought they got tired as the game went on, and it got real sluggish."

Herring said his defensive line must have a better showing Saturday in a highly anticipated game at Alabama. As he put it, the Crimson Tide has a physical offense that "will bloody your nose."

What made Arkansas' lack of pressure in the season opener so surprising is that it came against a Troy offensive line that lost four starters from a year ago.

Wade, a former junior college transfer, recorded just one tackle and two quarterback hurries in his first career start against the Trojans.

Fellow defensive end Adrian Davis, meanwhile, didn't have a single sack or quarterback hurry. The sophomore record four tackles -- including two for losses -- but it was apparent that the former linebacker is still adjusting to his new role.

"We've got to start using our hands more. We've got to be more physical and faster off the ball," Davis said. "That was the most important step (Arkansas defensive line coach Tracy Rocker) told us we had to come through against Alabama, is be more physical."

The Razorbacks could get a big boost on the defensive line this week. Senior Marcus Harrison, one of the defense's more proven playmakers, could return from his suspension and play at Alabama.

Harrison was named Arkansas' starting left defensive end at the end of preseason practice. But he was suspended indefinitely following his arrest Aug. 24 on a felony drug charge and several misdemeanors.

Nutt said last week that Harrison has rejoined the team, but he added that he hasn't decided on whether the senior will be in the lineup against the Crimson Tide. Nutt said Harrison was "probably available" for this week.

"We'll welcome him back if he comes back," Herring said.

Getting to the quarterback wasn't much of a problem for Arkansas' defense last year. The Razorbacks had the Southeastern Conference's top pass-rushing tandem in defensive ends Jamaal Anderson and Antwain Robinson.

Anderson, physically imposing at 6-foot-6, led the SEC with 13 1/2 sacks. Robinson added 8 1/2 sacks to give opposing offensive lines a tough duo to stop.

But Anderson left Arkansas after his junior season to enter the NFL Draft, where he was taken with the eighth overall pick by the Atlanta Falcons.

Robinson, meanwhile, has been slowed by injuries and his poor work ethic in practice caused him to enter the season as a backup. That has put more pressure on Arkansas' inexperienced defensive ends to learn in a hurry.

"You've got to understand this is a different game, different level, different pace. It's all new and developing a pass rush is something that's got to come from within," Herring said. "The skill itself has to be developed on a daily basis.

"I don't believe we've got any All-American preseason pass rushers out there. The one we've got is with the Atlanta Falcons. He would have helped."

Lack of Pressure

Arkansas' defensive line didn't put enough pressure on Troy quarterback Omar Haugabook in last Saturday's 46-26 season-opening win. The starting defensive linemen, in particular, struggled against Troy's rebuilt offensive line.

Here is how the starters fared:

Name Tackles Sacks Breakups QB Hurries

LE Chris Wade 1 0 1 2

DT Malcolm Sheppard 5 0 0 0

DT Ernest Mitchell 0 0 0 0

RE Adrian Davis 4 0 1 0

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