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Hogs New Def Coodinator Wants Players to Cut Loose

Arkansas Football's new defensive coordinator wants to simplify things so the players can use their natural abilities to make plays.
FAYETTEVILLE--Unlike predecessor Chris Ash, Arkansas defensive coordinator Robb Smith will coach every position in the team's secondary. Head coach Bret Bielema revealed that change in a 30 minute press conference introducing Smith to the Razorback media. Bielema also said that Taver Johnson will no longer specifically coach cornerbacks but will assist Smith with the entire secondary.

After watching that secondary collapse in losses to South Carolina, Ole Miss and LSU Bielema said he liked the change telling reporters, "Communication needs to be cleaner and I think it's more important for us to have a secondary that's together, a group of linebackers that's together and then a D-line that's together."

In a departure from Ash's practice of applying pressure with four defensive linemen Smith says Arkansas will now attack opposing quarterbacks with five or even six defenders if necessary from a scheme that is designed to allow those players to cut loose.

"As coaches we can teach them schemes and techniques but at some point they've got to use their God-given abilities to go out and make plays," Smith stressed. "It's our job to make that as simple and concise as possible."

Bielema revealed a somewhat humorous moment in the hiring process. Wanting to make sure that Smith and senior associate head coach Randy Shannon were on the same page before Smith was hired, Bielema arranged for the two coaches to meet privately during a recruiting trip to a Florida high school, a location he believed would keep the job search out of the spotlight. There were, however, immediate complications.

"Bobby Petrino walks right in front of me in the first two minutes we're sitting there," Bielema said with a laugh. "I turn around and there's two coaches from Syracuse that are standing there also because it's a hot bed for recruiting. I guess I was naive to think that we could be quiet about it."

The two men did have their conversation and according to Smith they meshed instantly having both cut their teeth as defensive coaches under Dave Wannstedt.

"We kind of grabbed a cup of coffee together and we just talked football," Smith recalled. "He was very comfortable in that setting talking football and that's where I'm at my biggest comfort level, talking football. I think we really found that we were on the same page on a lot of things."

Smith indicated that a trip to Fayetteville in 2012 as Rutgers defensive coordinator played a role in his decision to accept Bielema's offer. The Scarlet Knights won the game but Razorback fans won over Smith.

"It left a lasting impression," Smith revealed. "The fans were great and I could see that this was a special place. Plus Bret told me a lot of fabulous things about the university."

"He's a very good coach who had other options in front of him," Bielema noted. "It's an exciting time for me. We spent several hours yesterday just talking football in a language that I think will be great for us here."

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