Changes In Hogs' Defense Create Excitement

FAYETTEVILLE--Nobody is more excited about the start of Razorback Football practices next week than linebackers coach Randy Shannon. "You go on vacation. You spend money you don't have. So you come back and you're refreshed and the guys are refreshed. They're happy to see you back and so it's fun," Shannon observed.

"This is what we do," defensive coordinator Robb Smith echoed. "We coach football. I had a little bit of the Griswold family vacation, traveling all over the midwest. My wife is ready for me to go back to work. If training camp started tomorrow that wouldn't be a bad thing."

Shannon got a new addition to his linebacker corp this month with the arrival of Josh Williams, a 6-2, 230 pounder with 4.43 speed out of Dodge City Junior College. "He's a smart young man," Shannon told the Razorback Nation. "Does a lot of great things on film that we've seen out of his junior college. Fast, quick guy and brings depth to the team and also competition which is really good."

Another highly regarded newcomer is 6-2, 327 pound defensive tackle Bijhon Jackson, a four-star recruit out of El Dorado, Arkansas. Listed as number eight in the nation at his position Jackson has been in Fayetteville through the summer and has a chance to contribute right away thanks to the work he's already done in the weight room.

"In a short amount of time, in my opinion, he's done a great job of redistributing his body and he's a guy we're really anxious to work with in camp when we get the pads on," Smith explained.

Smith is new to the defense as well, replacing Chris Ash who was one of head coach Bret Bielema's first hires after taking the Arkansas job. Communication issues plagued the Hogs throughout the 2013 season. Smith was hired in part to clean up that problem. He brought with him a new language of X's and O's dubbed "Hoganese" (hog-ah-NEEZE) by Bielema. Smith said the coaches and players are well versed in their new method of communication but, he added, "The real test is to make sure that it's followed through and carried out when we get to training camp."

Defensive line coach Rory Segrest believes the true value of Hoganese will come once the season starts. "In the course of a game things get hectic," he explained. "What you're trying to get across to them. What kind of adjustments need to be made. So the more fluid you can be in terms of your communication the better off you're going to be."

College coaches have, for the first time this summer, been able to get on the field with their players for two hours a week during voluntary summer workouts. Asked what part of the defense needs the most development based on his observations during those practices Smith hedged somewhat saying, "I'm not trying to skirt the question but I think we need development in all areas. We've got to continue to improve each and every time we go out on the field. If we can do that we'll feel pretty good when we kick things off."


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