FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas’ defense will look much different in 2020 with Barry Odom now in charge.
Senior linebacker Grant Morgan and redshirt freshman safety Jalen Catalon participated in a teleconference on Friday and talked about the new defensive scheme they expect to use with Odom in charge.
“I’ll tell you right now I would be very shocked if we ran anything less than everything this year,” Morgan said. “When we say base and we send out everybody, it’s going to be a 3-2-6. It’s a variation off a 3-3, but you have an extra nickel and you have extra DB to stop the passing everyone wants to do. But you’ve got the variation with the middle safety to be able to come down and fit the run gaps that we need. That we’re going to need this year.
“But 3-2-6 will be our base, but you know Coach Odom. You’ve seen his stuff in the past. Missouri had a very good defense. Memphis had a very good defense with him. So he knows what to do to get people in the right spots and get them to be a successful defense. Four down we have a lot of different personnel that we have from last year, because we were a four down on defense. It fits more smooth. We haven’t put a ton of that in, just because we already have a ton of people that know how to run that. We’re just kind of changing verbiage.”
With six defensive backs for the base defense, Catalon described each of the positions.
“You’ve got two corners, of course, and then you’ve got middle safety, boundary, strong, and then you have the nickel,” Catalon said. “That’s what the positions are.”
Catalon isn’t sure which of the safety spots he will eventually play, but does like what Odom has done with the defense.
“I love Coach Odom and what he’s doing right now as far as everything goes,” Catalon said. “We don’t have a depth chart as far as who’s 1, 2 or 3. I think he believes in our DBs and that everyone can play right now. So we’re kind of rotating the spots, so one day you might be a free safety and the next day you might be a boundary safety or a strong safety. Or one day you might be a nickel. Before you know it, you might be moved to corner one time to see how you are. I think he wants to see how your mind works, make sure you know every single spot. I think that’s what he’s really trying to emphasize, to make sure the defense is always on the same page. Make sure that everyone knows all the positions and knows where everybody’s supposed to do.
“Like Grant said, I think the base is going to be a 3-2-6. Seeing what Coach Odom has done in the past with his teams, we’ll probably have a lot of things getting installed down the road. I think everyone is real flexible as far as where they can play. You really can’t get comfortable at one spot because you have to know everything, because you never know what you could be put in that position.
“I know I’m working middle safety right now and a little bit of strong. But like I said, I’ll probably end up moving around, just to try different positions. And from there Coach Odom will make a decision based off of where I best fit at, to help the defense out and be successful.”
Morgan talked about a different kind of football as well on Friday. He was asked to clarify what he meant by that.
“Well different kind of football is a mindset we’re rallying behind,” Morgan said. “We’re trying to be a whole different brand. We don’t want to go back and do what we did last year. We don’t ever want to repeat what we did last year. I don’t care how many years Arkansas Football has been here. When I said different kind of football we want to be winners in the win column every single weekend. We just want to be tough. We just want to have guys that want to play football. We want to just an example for years to come. We want to be that first team to spur something here at Arkansas. When I say different honestly a lot of things are changing differently. We are changing into an entirely different defense and we’ll be swarming the football. We want to have a ton of turnovers.
“We want to be able to have guys around the ball and conditioning wise like I was speaking earlier about the winter conditioning. We’ve been working on a lot of speed training. We were working on a lot of power movement and stuff we did in the past, but we’re putting so much emphasis on it this year. We have guys buying in and changing their bodies like crazy. I know the offense right now, just the little stuff we did with them, I know the offense is gonna go really quick. I’m not gonna speak for Mike, but I know the receivers really bought into it they’re lining up super quick. I guess this is the fastest our offense has gone. We want to put on the field what we talk about, always what we’ve tried to do, but we’re planning on doing this year.”
Morgan is glad to have Odom on his side this year instead of facing him.
“I’ll just say I’m super happy he’s on our side,” Morgan said. “I’m tired of playing him and I’m glad he’s on our side, I’ll give him that. Because he’s a dang good coach and I’ve noticed that and realized that right away. I met him early January, I came back up here. It was the first week he got hired. It was like his first time in Fayetteville almost and I drove back up to Fayetteville.
“Me and Bumper (Pool) met with him and I’ve liked him ever since the day I met him. He’s just a guy you know who is going to work his butt off and a guy I know we can all get behind and rally and play for him. That’s what you need as a defensive coordinator, a guy to be able to play for and be able to know they’re caring just as much as you. Ever since the day I met Coach Odom, he’s been the same guy ever since then and he’s going to be the same guy, I think, from here on out. I know Jalen probably knows him more, so I’ll go ahead and pass it to him.”
Catalon echoed the statements about glad that Odom is now a Razorback.
“Coach Odom, he’s consistent,” Catalon said. “He’s a good guy. He’ll come in and just kind of ask how everything’s going, making sure we’re all good. When it comes time to talk about ball, when it comes time to talk about anything, it’s all business and it’s serious. He’s a serious guys and he’s really educated on the game. He knows what he’s talking about. I just feel like everything with him is just, he makes sure it’s precise and he makes sure everything is on point. He makes sure everyone’s in the right spot. It’s not even just football, just also life. Making sure we get life lessons out of everything we do. Making sure that we grow as a unit and also individually as a man.
“Coach Odom, he actually recruited me. He was one of the first coaches to offer me too. So I think when I met with him, he kind of mentioned that too, saying it was destined to happen. So like I said it’s crazy how things work out. I’m glad to have him as our defensive coordinator and position coach because he’s a great guy. Like I said he knows his stuff and I’m just excited to learn his system and just grow as a player with him as well.”