Tuesday Grid Update, 11/25

University of Arkansas defensive coordinator Willy Robinson talks about what it is going to take for his unit to rise to the challenge against LSU on Friday.

University of Arkansas defensive coordinator Willy Robinson gets it.

After the last two weeks of subpar play, especially against the run, he knows full well what has to happen with his players.

"They have to be (more intense)," Robinson said after Wednesday's practice. "Our tackling ability the last two weeks is what we're quite ashamed of. The thing about it is, you've got to want to tackle. It goes back to courage and being physical."

That is something that the defense is certainly focusing on during this short week leading up to Friday's season-ending contest with LSU in Little Rock.

Defensive end Adrian Davis echoed his coaches sentiments, especially after watching film of a 31-28 loss to Mississippi State, who had been woeful on offense this season.

"It was very hard to watch," Davis said. "I know there have been times when we have played a whole lot better this year, stopping the run. We have to play harder and smarter."

Davis talked about pride, but also about a couple of other things.

"It's going to come down to playing hard and playing with heart," Davis said. "Like (Arkansas head) Coach (Bobby) Petrino talked about it earlier, you have got to have heart to play hard and you have to try and be dominant defensively. Especially to stop the run, you have got to be hard-nosed and tough."

While he has lost some players to injury, a couple of defensive tackles to career-ending suspension and question the effort and toughness of others, Robinson has not had to worry about what he will get weekly from defensive tackle Malcolm Sheppard.

"He's been outstanding for us," Robinson said. You walk in on that wall (of honor) and you see that picture. His mug has been on that wall for grinder and player (of the game). He's really done a nice job for us. He's extremely active, he goes full speed all the time, he's a guy that people are going to have to account for. He's being very active and productive for us."

LSU brings a strong running game into Friday's game led by Charles Scott.

"He's a fine football player," Robinson said. "He runs with his pads down. He runs with authority and he's a darn good receiver coming out of the backfield."

With middle linebacker Wendel Davis out do to injury suffered in last weekend's game with Mississippi State, Jerry Franklin moves from the outside in while Freddy Burton starts at one outside backer and Elston Forte and Ryan Powers split time at the other.

"I think he feels more comfortable there already," Robinson said of Franklin. "He's made a great transition this week. It's hard duty last week in the middle of the game to have to go do it. All of a sudden he had to switch and it hurt him a little bit. But he's really done a good job for us this week."

"Forte and Powers have done a nice job for us this week," Robinson added. " They're really suited for what this team does and that's going to be running the football and pounding at you. They do a really nice job on that. ... they're getting a lot more adept at doing their job."

Those defenders will no doubt spend plenty of time chasing new LSU starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson.

"He's their future obviously," Robinson said. "The thing about it is that he is awfully talented. He's big, he's athletic, he wants the ball in his hands to try and make the decisions. He's an awfully good football player."

Jefferson is a player that can hurt with his arm and his feet according to Robinson.

"He'll look at his intended receiver and he'll work it a little bit," Robinson said, " but in first and second down situations he's willing to go ahead and make the throw. He's strong armed. He's confident. He'll throw it and force it. But on third down all of a sudden it's taken care of, the coverage is there, that's where he's a dangerous guy. He's going to take off and run for the first down."

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