Willy Robinson liked what he saw at middle linebacker with Jerry Franklin, but there wasn't much else that pleased the Arkansas defensive coordinator about the first scrimmage of fall practice. That was the report Monday afternoon when Robinson visited with the media following the second of the day's two workouts.
"Disapppointing," Robinson termed the scrimmage that took place Sunday morning. "It wasn't good. We took a big step back.
"Really, we didn't execute. We have to show more character than what we did, too. We have to be responsible."
Robinson gave the offense credit for setting the tone at the outset. He said the defense failed to match the tempo or pace and that goes for before the snap and afterwards.
"We made so many errors in alignment and those are critical," he said. "But it is beyond that. We didn't get out of the huddle. We didn't recognize how fast the offense was moving and how quickly they were ready. Our defense wasn't getting the play called and out of the huddle in time to get lined up properly and that caused some problems in having time to correct what we were doing wrong. We were just barely getting lined up at all."
The bright spot was Franklin. He had rotated with Jermaine Love in the spring at middle linebacker, but seems settled into that spot after one week of practice.
"We were really pleased with Franklin," Robinson said. "From where he was in the spring, he's stepped up. Other than that, I think we have taken a step backwards.
"The long runs were really glaring. They gashed us. That was the most disappointing thing. Those were missed assignments. Some were up front, but we also had problems in the back. That was very glaring.
"When you have missed assignments at the start, you have to be really disappointed. Did they fail to get the call? Were they not listening? You have to get the call in the huddle and then get lined up.
"The problem is we are still learning the defense. We don't have a lot who really understand it. You want to have people who understand it and then if someone besides you is not lined up right, you communicate and help them. We are not to that point. I don't see that communication taking place. We just have to keep working on that. If you don't understand it and you are late getting out of the huddle, then you are having problems that we have to get fixed. We just had too many breakdowns and it's clear we have taken a step back from the spring."
Another factor is the fast pace of the offense.
"They are moving really fast with their installations and they are doing a fine job," Robinson said. "They put in a lot today and looked good doing it. They gashed us on some things today that we didn't pick up.
"You hope that what we are seeing is going to help us on game day. You hope that they are doing more than what we will see from some teams and it will be easier. They are really good with what they are doing, but we sure should be better with how we are handling it."
Robinson said the pace of the defense was better after the halftime break.
"I think we were able to get there attention and get their intensity up a little bit," Robinson said. "We got the concentration a little better. But you would hope they would come out better at the outset. We just have to recognize how fast our offense plays and match it at the beginning. This offense is going to play at a very fast, high rate and get a lot of repetitions. That's the style and system of the offense. We have to match it. We haven't so far. I didn't think we did (Monday) either."
Conversely, offensive coordinator Paul Petrino liked the way the offense came out Sunday morning, but thought the concentration lagged as the morning progressed.
"It was real good execution at the start and we came out ready," Petrino said. "We did miss a couple of chances for touchdowns and we can't let that happen. The game is such that you aren't going to get a lot of chances like that and we have to hit them.
"The running backs ran good and the offensive line was clicking early. The receivers can play better. The receivers need to dominate a little more than they did.
"Things weren't as good after the halftime, but the ones were not out there as much in that half. It was more ones-twos-threes against ones-twos-threes. When that happens, you see things fall off a little bit.
"Our young running backs had a good day. They are coming on. We were a little concerned about them early, but they ran hard and looked good yesterday. Those young ones -- the backs and the receivers -- have to be ready. Chip Gregory showed great improvement. A couple of times he danced too much, but he showed the ability to run downhill and he played with a little better pad level."
Paul Petrino praised the play of tight end Ben Cleveland, but noted he still needs consistency through a practice.
"He's fine until he gets tired," Petrino said. "Ben is catching the ball really well. He just needs to stay focused when he gets tired at the end of practice. If he continue to stay focused, he'll be much better. When he is fresh, he looks good. When he is tired, he doesn't look as good."
Petrino was pleased to have freshman wide receiver Joe Adams back at practice. Adams, along with freshman Jarius Wright, made some big plays in both the morning and afternoon workout. Wide receiver Lucas Miller along with tight end D. J. Williams both had a good number of solid catches on the day. Running back De'Anthony Curtis also had an impressive day catching the ball and with some fine cuts after catches.
"We did a lot of new installation today," Petrino said. "We put in quite a few new things today. It was a big installation day."
Placekicker Alex Tejada had a fine session at the end of the afternoon session. Both workouts featured a lot of work on special teams, including several sessions on kickoffs and kickoff returns.
The defensive line seemed thin in the afternoon session when among the missing presumably because of injuries were Ernest Mitchell, Brandon Lampkin, Jake Bequette, Zack Stadther and Patrick Jones. All of those injuries are believed to be minor.
Willy Robinson shouts instructions.
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