Opponent Scouting Report: Arkansas Razorbacks Defense, Position-by-Position

2 of 5

Oct 12, 2013; Fayetteville, AR, USA; A fan holds a sign while watching the game against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. South Carolina defeated Arkansas 52-7. Mandatory Credit: Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports

New Defensive Coordinator, Robb Smith

Of course, 2014 is a new year, and the Hogs have a new defensive coordinator. Chris Ash, who led the defense in Bret Bielema’s first season as head coach, left for Ohio State. Robb Smith was brought in as the new DC in Fayetteville. One of his first points of emphasis is to turnaround the turnover problem.

Live Feed

Auburn vs. Texas A&M Prediction, Odds, Trends and Key Players for College Football Week 4
Auburn vs. Texas A&M Prediction, Odds, Trends and Key Players for College Football Week 4 /


  • 2023 Week 4 AP Poll Top 25: Every SEC team’s highest, lowest spot on ballot South Bound & Down
  • SEC Football: Florida, LSU rise in Week 4 2023 power rankings South Bound & Down
  • SEC Tailgating: Where should you go in each town? South Bound & Down
  • SEC football standings based on yards per play through Week 2 FanSided
  • Auburn Basketball: Projected starting lineup and depth chart for 2023-24 season Busting Brackets
  • The overall scheme will not change much from Ash to Smith, but the new coordinator plans to be much more aggressive than his predecessor. Bielema reiterated that in a recent on campus luncheon.

    “Defensively, I think you’re going to find a defense that’s a lot more aggressive,” Bielema said. “I don’t mean aggressive by the number of blitzes that are called or anything like that. I’m talking about the way they play.”

    That could be good – if it leads to more interceptions, sacks, and forced fumbles – but it could also be bad if the risks to not pay off and offenses are able to capitalize for big plays. As they say, it’s a high risk, high reward attitude.

    Before coming to Arkansas, Smith coached with Greg Schiano (who spent time with the Razorbacks staff last week) while at Rutgers and with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His 2012 Scarlet Knights squad allowed only 14.2 points per game, which was the fourth best performance in the country. His players seem to have bought into the new coordinator.

    “I really like coach Robb Smith,” defensive lineman Taiwan Johnson told arkansasrazorbacks.com last week. “He’s a great coach and he’s very good with making sure the details are pounded in us every day. That’s good because it’s going to make the difference.”

    And Smith is not the only new defensive coach. In fact, only linebackers coach and former head coach of the Miami Hurricanes, Randy Shannon, was on the staff last season. Despite the changes, and at least in the spring, the move seemed to pay off.

    Sep 1, 2012; Fayetteville, AR, USA; Jacksonville State Gamecocks running back DeMarcus James (32) rushes as Arkansas Razorbacks defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr (48) defends at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Arkansas defeated Jacksonville State 49-24. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

    The first team Arkansas defense created havoc in the backfield for the backup offense in the spring game, getting to the quarterback often in the second quarter. The secondary (both first and second teams) forced a combined four interceptions – though, as a perfect example of the risk-reward aspect, the starters allowed a long touchdown on the last play of the first half. You can watch a replay of the Arkansas spring game here.

    Expect Arkansas corners to be more hands-on with Auburn receivers in this year’s game, as Smith likes bump-and-run coverage. He also prefers “fire zones,” which is another name for zone blitzes, that send one or two linebackers or even a safety as pass rushers while dropping defensive linemen or other linebackers into coverage.

    This strategy is a good one for the defense because it can confuse the quarterback by disguising who is blitzing and who is covering receivers, leading to mistakes in decision making and therefore more sacks and picks.

    It also makes things tough on offensive linemen. When a player on the O-Line is used to defending an oncoming defensive end or defensive tackle play after play, only to unexpectedly see him drop off into coverage, it can allow extra an extra split second for a blitzing linebacker or defensive back to blow by the perplexed lineman and get to the quarterback.

    But, of course, the team must have players that can implement the defensive system, and that was a problem for Arkansas last season. There was talent at certain spots, but not enough to stay competitive in the SEC. Can this year’s group change the trend?

    Arkansas Razorbacks Defensive Depth Chart

    [table id=25 /]