That's what University of Arkansas defensive coordinator Willy Robinson is clearly doing with the season opener against Missouri State just 15 days away.
Robinson said after Friday morning's practice that he was preparing true freshmen David Gordon and Darius Winston to play, thinking about moving Rudell Crim to field corner and readying Jerell Norton to play anywhere he needs to do to help the team.
"The spot is open, wide-open right now because we have had to make some changes," Robinson said. "Obviously Greg Gatson right now is working with our one unit, but we are trying to bring David Gordon and Darius Winston along. The thought is possibly Rudell Crim gets back to being healthy looking at him out there was well."
Norton was at corner earlier, but now at safety and picked off a pass on Friday.
"He is learning the defense and to be honest with you, he has picked it up quite quickly because as a corner you have got to know where those safeties are anyway," Robinson said. "He is doing a good job, he is talking all the time and communicating and for the most part – maybe 95 percent of the time – he is right with his calls. I appreciate how hard he has taken that over and how hard he is working at it. "
Norton has played several spots in the secondary and is turning into a utility type guy that could fill in wherever needed the most.
That is always a situation we could use, but we still have a long way away from our first game and he has had a lot of experience out there," Robinson said. "He has played the boundary corner, he has played the field corner. He is a guy that wears a lot of hats for us as well. That is also a situation that could come up as well."
Robinson has talked about how Gordon and Winston have needed to get more physical to play in the SEC.
"We are working to maybe play these kids up until that first game until we figure out where we are depth-wise and health-wise," Robinson said. "They have got to be figuring into the game plan. We haven't approached them on what they are going to do or where they are going to be or what our plan is for them. We continue to look and see how fast and how far they have come along.
"…The strength and the bulk, that is going to be something that we have to be concerned with when you come into the SEC," Robinson added. "Are they going to be able to handle those bigger receivers, those physical receivers? Are they going to be able to run support, which we ask our corners to do? We are going to have to find out.
"Watching them in what we have done so far, they are both, hey, they don't shy away from contact," Robinson continued. "They are willing to be very willing tacklers. The passing game part of it, they are a little bit behind on the passing game part of it because of how much we have in. And the adjustments to the speed of our wide receivers is a little surprising to both of those players."
Winston is a very shy, soft-spoken young man, but has surprised Robinson in one way.
"Darius has done a tremendous job," Robinson said. "When we are sitting in our meetings, I like to get continous feedback from them – alignments, assignments. He doesn't say ‘uh' after my question. He can respond real quick. I am not surprised by it, but I appreciate it. In my mind's eyes, it tells me he is studying it and he is watching the guys in front of him.
"As long as those kids continue to do that and not watch just themselves when they practice, but watch their position, they understand the position a lot better and I think Darius is doing that for us."
Crim and safety Anthony Leon are both junior college players that were brought in to play and not sit according to Robinson.
"It is extremely important," Robinson said. "You've got Anthony Leon who is a two-year guy and Rudell Crim, both highly-rated players at their postions. We are not bringing them in here to be back-ups.
"The struggles that they are dealing with now is obviously the conditioning and the package itself – because of how much we have in," Robinson said. "The conditioning part – they have got to fight through it."
Crim practiced, but was in a non-contact yellow jersey while Leon did not practice.
"They have got to know the difference between pain and injury and continue to push themselves so it doesn't get to them," Robinson said. "Obviously if it is a continuence with them, than it pretty soon is going to be something that pretty much takes over their minds. They have got to understand to push right through it.
"We brought those kids in to play for us and to start," Robinson added. "Those are two highly talented young men so where they fit in is going to be a matter of when they get back to being healthy and how fast can they pick it back up.
"I did appreciate Rudell coming out there today in a yellow jersey," Robinson said. "The yellow jersey is a non-contact situation, but he went out and he didn't miss a beat. We kept him out of the contact part of it, but he did get his reps in and did everything that he was asked to do."
One guy who has definitely had a very good preseason camp is starting strong safety Tremain Thomas.
"When Tremain was a two, I don't know how serious he took the game," Robinson said. "He just didn't see himself being that guy and all of the sudden at the end, he started making a push. And then he became a believer that he could be that guy and I think he is hanging onto that position very well.
"I think he is a guy that can switch, go from open to tight and I think he understands both the positions very well," Robinson said. "You guys have talked to Tremain. You know how quite a young man he is. You almost have to get that microphone right on his mouth for him to talk so you can hear it. Tremain is talking, he is making calls, he is doing things and connecting the dots very well. Plus you all know he can hit and he can make plays on the ball."
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As far as the overall practice, Robinson was not pleased with the energy level of his defenders on Friday.
That came a day after getting a second Thursday practice called off.
"We were scheduled to have two (practices) yesterday and Coach (Petrino) threw them a bone because of how physical our morning practice was and how hard they have been working up until that point," Robinson said. "I am probably a little bit disappointed in my eyes that they should have life and have energy and it didn't seem like there was any of that on the field today. Maybe it's us, maybe it's them, but it just seems like there should have been more."
Arkansas defensive players are calling themselves the Red Swarm to go along with the motto of Tap The Hat after a teammate makes a play.
"We are asking all 11 of our guys to get to the ball," Robinson said. "The point of emphasis today is to make sure that even if I am the guy in a non-contact deal and I make the tackle, I raise my fist and everybody has got to run to that guy and tap the hat.
"We are still not where to be with that," Robinson said. "It is a belief that whether you make a play, you don't make a play, how special is the play, we are all swarming to the football. Obviously when you are in press man, it is hard to get those corners back, but the other nine guys need to be there."
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Robinson has ideas on what he wants to see in Saturday's 8:45 a.m. scrimmage, which is now open to the public.
"We are looking for the same type of tempo (of last Saturday's scrimmage) and even better," Robinson said. "No blown assignments. The long balls hurt us tremendously last week. We gave up too many long balls.
"In the run game, I thought as many times as they tried to run the football, their biggest game was 15 yards," Robinson added. "If we can continue to make them throw the ball, in regards to who we play on any given Sunday, we give ourselves a chance We are looking for execution, being very physical on defense and running to the football full speed."
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A position change at Friday's practice was the move of quarterback Jim Youngblood to tight end.
"We just wanted to take a look at him, too," Arkansas assistant Tim Horton said. "He did a really good job from what I saw, although I wasn't around him, coaching him. He's got a great attitude and is really a team-first guy. When it was approached to him, he jumped on it because I think he sees it as an opportunity to play.
"I think one of our jobs is to give kids the quickest opportunity to get on the field," Horton added. "Right now that might be Jim's quickest opportunity."
Fellow former Camden Fairview standout De'Anthony Curtis was in some wide receiver drills.
"That was just a chance to get De'Anthony a look as an inside slot player where he could be a combo, running back receiver type player," Horton said. But I'm not really sure how it went today because I wasn't over there with that. But that was something we talked about and he did it. There could be some plays for him in that spot."
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Tailback Broderick Green missed another practice because of illness, but did attend some meetings on Friday morning.
"The thing that's been disappointing is that Broderick Green has been sick," Horton said. "He was really coming on and was doing some good things. He's been sick and he has not been able to practice.
"He was able to come to meetings this morning," Horton added. "He's had really high temperatures. It was up to 103 I think yesterday. We've got to just get him well."
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There were a couple of well-publicized skirmishes in practice on Thursday between the offense and defense.
Linebacker Jerry Franklin said it was just about the heat of battle.
"Things just get heated sometimes when the competition really gets intense," Franklin said. "Some guys just got a little steamed and of course, you saw what happened. We are a team, just trying to keep everything together."
It is probably something of a good thing according to Franklin.
"Everybody on the team is a competitor and everybody likes to compete," Franklin said. "If somebody feels like somebody is getting the best of them, they are going to shoot back at them. That's the way it goes.
"Whatever happens in there we are still a team so nobody is really divided by that," Frankin said.