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

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Nov 29, 2013; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks defensive end Trey Flowers (86) sacks LSU Tigers quarterback Zach Mettenberger (8) in the first half at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive Line

Perhaps the best player on the Arkansas roster is senior defensive end Trey Flowers, an All-SEC candidate that could have jumped to the NFL after last season. In 2013, Flowers accumulated 44 tackles, 13.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, five sacks, forced three fumbles, broke up two passes, and had an interception.

Flowers has good size at 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds, and received a third round grade from the NFL, but decided to stay on campus instead because he wanted to help complete Bielema’s rebuilding.

“This program is so close to turning it around,” Flowers said during an interview at the spring game. “We had a couple of bad games last season, but we learned from those games and I saw towards the end of the year what this team is really about. Just being able to be here for the turnaround was one of the main reasons.”

Last year’s breakout performer, Darius Philon, will handle the defensive tackle spot. Philon was at one time committed to Alabama, but wound up in Fayetteville and performed well enough for the Razorbacks as a redshirt freshman last season that he was named to the SEC All-Freshman team. The sophomore had 46 tackles, nine tackles for a loss, three sacks and he forced two fumbles.

The other two spots on the defensive line were less clear entering fall camp. Sophomore defensive end Deatrich Wise had five sacks in the spring game, and appears ready to take over across from Flowers. Unfortunately, Wise has been dealing with a nagging knee injury this fall and is currently listed as questionable against Auburn.

JaMichael Winston is currently listed as the co-starter for the Hogs at defensive end with Wise. He and Brandon Lewis should both see plenty of playing time this season as the Razorbacks look to rotate linemen in and out of the game to keep them fresh for today’s fast-paced offenses (especially Auburn’s, but the Razorbacks also must contend with Ole Miss and Texas Tech this season).

At nose guard, junior DeMarcus Hodge was considered the early favorite, however at this point he will back up Taiwan Johnson, a sophomore. Bijhon Jackson, a 6-foot-2 330-pound true freshman, comes to Fayeteville as a highly recruited interior lineman with a chance to play very early.

“Those guys have really been competing,” defensive line coach Rory Segrest said last week. “It’s always good when you have a couple guys who are battling it out for a position. They push each other, they try to work to get a little bit better and so this scrimmage will tell us a lot. I’m looking forward to seeing the film.”