AP NEWS

Defense a rare bright spot for Arkansas

September 26, 2018

Arkansas head coach Chad Morris greet his defenders after a 4th-and-one stop of Auburn during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — If there is a bright spot in the early going for Arkansas it is on defense.

The Razorbacks (1-3) are coming off a 34-3 loss at Auburn, but the final score is a bit deceiving when it comes to the effort.

The Hogs held Auburn to only 91 yards rushing on 36 carries. The front seven led by junior McTelvin Agim and senior Randy Ramsey had a better game against the rush than Auburn, which allowed 149 yard on 38 carries.

“We’re gonna continue to push the envelope until we get to where we want to be,” defensive coordinator John Chavis said. “I’m proud of the effort, but we’re still not at our standard, and we’ve gotta keep rolling.”

Chavis will be facing his former team Saturday for the first time when Arkansas plays Texas A&M in Arlington, Texas. The Razorbacks have lost six straight to their former Southwest Conference rival and they are counting on Chavis’ knowledge to prepare.

“Talking with the defensive staff, they recruited a lot of those guys,” Arkansas offensive coordinator Joe Craddock said. “I think he can give us a little bit more take this week on their personnel.”

Arkansas’ run defense is ranked No. 7 nationally and tops in the Southeastern Conference, but it will be tested by Aggies quarterback Kellen Mond, who gashed Alabama’s defense for 98 rushing yards and a score.

“I think they’ve done a great job, with the change in system, giving him some things to do,” Chavis said. “He’s a great runner. He’s on track to be a 3,000-yard passer, and he’s got good people around him. It’s a very talented team.”

Freshman linebacker Bumper Pool was solid in replacing the injured Dre Greenlaw in the season opener, though the senior remains invaluable.

“Even on the bench, in between possessions, that’s where it’s really, really important,” Chavis said of Greenlaw. “His input on the sideline and his input on keeping people up, there’s not a price you can put on that. That was tremendous, and he did a great job of it all night long.”

Chavis downplayed his knowledge of specifics about Texas A&M, which has a new head coach in Jimbo Fisher.

“It’s a big game, and it’s important because it’s our next game,” Chavis said. “I don’t have firsthand knowledge of what they want to do. You’ve got film, and you work around that, certainly.”

The Aggies are averaging 246.3 rushing yards. While Arkansas’ defense is receiving praise for its tenacity against Auburn, another test looms.

“It’s about numbers in the box,” Chavis said. “It’s about showing them a five-man box and ending up playing a six-or-seven-man box. Teams that are spread teams — they don’t want to run in a seven-man box. That’s kind of hard territory.”

AP RADIO
Update hourly