The old maxim that defense wins championships isn’t simply just an old maxim.
We’ve shown before (Performance Standards of BCS Champions and Evaluating the Hogs’ Chances for a BCS Championship) that defensive statistical categories, more than offensive ones, are more consistent with championship teams.
Too, people will swear to their dying days that it’s an offense that typically controls time-of-possession. Certainly an offense can control time of possession, and we can all agree that it’s more likely that when a team holds the ball longer, that they usually win more. The reality is that a strong defens tends to produce a team where the offense possesses the ball longer. Arkansas v. Tennessee Tech plus When Time of Possession Matters
While Arkansas needs improvement all around, it’s not a popular thought that the best way to winning is by first improving the defense, but maybe it’s worth considering.
Nonetheless, Arkansas’ new defensive coordinator Robb Smith met the press today on the first day of contact drills. Right now, and throughout the week, the coaches are just trying to see who can play and not trying to install the defense. Coach Smith addresses Josh Williams, intensity of today’s practice, and the athleticism of the newcomers. Look at Coach Smith’s response regarding the cornerbacks and tell us what you think.
Robb Smith interview August 6, 2014
Q: Did y’all do any hitting at all since you were in shells today?
A: We thought it up and got a great opportunity to go out there and start to establish our physicality as a defense. The first two days we were out there just in helmets and running around. It was a great opportunity for us to go out there and work on leverage, setting an edge, press and hit, things like that. Basic fundamentals of defense you get to play when you get the pads on, so it was a great start for us today.
Q: What have you all been focusing on these first few days?
A: The big thing for us is that we are just trying to install our base defense, playing with great effort, playing Arkansas defense the right way, and then for us it’s been really about evaluating guys now that they have come out of their summer and have done a great job with Coach Herbs, and who are the guys that are going to help us out in certain areas. You know, spent time this week evaluating within our base, and we will be able to move forward from there.
Q: Josh Williams, how does he look I know he’s hurting, but how does he look?
A: I think he really worked hard this summer to prepare. Since he’s been here, he flashed certainly at times. He’s got a long way to go, and he will be the first guy to admit that to you, but he’s certainly flashed, and he’s working hard, and we are excited to see him as he keeps progressing.
Q: Where have you been working him? Is it in the middle?
A: It’s been inside, and it’s been outside. We’re trying to find that right niche for him. Like I said, he has worked hard, and he is picking things up. We just got to keep pushing him and see what he can do to help us this fall.
Q: As far as the contact happened today, they said there is a lot of difference between shorts and T-shirts, and we could start hitting people. Could you tell the intensity to pick up?
A: There’s no question. This is when you really start to play football. You’re really just fitting in things the first two days, and you really got to be smart because you want to keep guys off the ground. Even today you’ve got to be smart. The physicality was there. It’s not what we want it to be. It was the first time out, but the effort’s in the right place. Now we just got to put our pad level… Those little fundamentals that take place when you start hitting people. We’ve got to get better there, and that will certainly help us as we improve.
Q: Coach Bielema has been talking about possibly simplifying some of the defensive calls, especially early, on so that guys can’t think too much and react. Is that happening?
A: Without a doubt, we are working within our base right now. That’s going to allow us to evaluate our guys from our seniors to our first-year true freshman. We want to find guys this week that are going to help us win football games in the SEC. The only way that we are going to do that is to allow them to play fast, to allow them to play physical and not be paralyzed with a lot of install at this time.
Q: Who has kind of flashed for you in that regard?
A: You know, I will tell you what. I have been very proud of the entire freshman group. I think they are an athletic group overall. That’s the one thing that’s jumped out at us. They worked extremely hard. Today was a little bit of an eye-opener for them for the first couple of plays when you get a chance to put on pads against the older players, but I think they adapted well, and I am anxious to see them progress each and every day.
Q: You’ve got a bunch of cornerbacks who’ve played and started. What have you seen from that bunch so far?
A: I tell you what. I think we are picking up where we left off last spring. Once again, those guys did a great job in the off-season, especially through the summer here to make sure that when we got to camp we were kind of ahead of where we were ,and we are not losing any ground. Like I said, we are in the basis of what we’re doing right now. We don’t have a lot of install in right now. We’re trying to find guys that can cover guys. We are trying to find guys that can set an edge. We are trying to find guys that can disrupt wide receivers at the line of scrimmage. I have been pleased with what we have seen so far.