Which Hog 'D' Shows Up?

The Arkansas defense has been feast or famine this year so far. Unfortunately, the Rebels are catching the Hogs after two straight feasts and an open week. Read OC Dan Werner's thoughts inside.

Looking at Arkansas' defensive results so far this, one can ask a couple of legitimate questions.

Which Hog defense will show up?

Will it be the one that gave up 58 points to Texas A&M, 52 points to Alabama and 35 points to Rutgers?

Or will it be the one that allowed only 7 points each the past two games to Auburn and Kentucky?

Granted, there is a huge difference in, say, the Aggie offense and Kentucky's, or Auburn's for that matter, but to hold anyone to 7 points in this day and age of offensive football, your defense has to be doing something right.

"They have improved, obviously," said Ole Miss Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner. "I think it starts up front. They have a really good defensive line that is active.

"The inside guys are big and strong and the outside guys can really run - a typical SEC defensive line. I know I say the same thing every week in this league about the DLs we are facing, but it's true every week."

Werner said he's been confused a little watching the Hogs' defense this year on tape.

"You watch them and they are flying around to the ball and doing good things, even when they were giving up a lot of points. Even then, they weren't giving up a bunch of big plays," he explained. "My guess is they were given some short filed earlier in the year because their offense turned the ball over quite a bit early on. That happens."

The Razorbacks will be playing without two injured linebacking stalwarts, the main one being leading tackler Alonzo Highsmith.

Dan Werner
File Photo

"Hopefully, it will affect them adversely," Werner laughed, "but they have good depth and the guys they have plugged in there have done a nice job.

"I am sad for Alonzo. His Dad and I are good friends. You hate to see that for any kid, but especially for the son of a good friend."

The Arkansas secondary is young and has taken some lumps, but as Werner was quick to point out, the last two games they have "grown up."

"They gave up some big plays early in the year, but lately they have been very solid. They are a lot like our secondary in that they are getting better each week with experience," he noted.

The Hog defense is not really known for being overly aggressive, schematically, but what they do with their pressure packages is unique to what the Rebs have seen so far this year.

""They are about a 30% blitz team, which is about normal. They aren't overzealous with their blitz packages, but when they do, they bring some different looks we have had to put a lot of work into because we have not seen them."

One question mark coming off any bye week for any team is if they will maintain their offensive rhythm. Werner takes a different approach and outlook.

"We look at it that we got some extra work in the open week and should be even sharper," Dan said. "We expect to play well and not miss a beat from where we were."

What does Werner want to improve?

"We have had pretty good production on first down, but it's dropped a little lately and we need to pick that back up. Doing well on first down is important to us getting into our tempo game," he added.

And obviously, the bugaboo of all offenses - no turnovers.

"Last game, we eliminated them and we had our biggest win of the year," he closed. "It just goes to show you the importance of taking care of the ball, as we have been preaching all along."

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