FAYETTEVILLE — When Sam Pittman hired Marcus Woodson from Florida State he may have made one of the most important hires of his time at Arkansas.
Woodson is not only a proven defensive coach, but is known as an outstanding recruiter. Woodson and Florida State led the ACC in pass defense this past season and now he takes over an Arkansas secondary that gave up huge chunks of yardage each game. Woodson looked back at his beginning time in Tallahassee as well as well as providing a promising outlook for the Razorbacks.
“Florida State was pretty bad when we first got there, as well,” Woodson said. “It took some work to get us to where we were at when I left. So I feel like that experience prepared me for that experience. Looking at the film from last year, the main thing I want us to focus on is being intentional. Being intentional with technique. Being intentional with the fundamentals. Being intentional with what we’re looking at and the footwork that goes with whatever the coverage may be.
“The pieces are there. I feel like with the guys that we have on campus right now, we can win with, and we’re going to win with. At the end of the day, in addition to being intentional, I want to be super competitive. That’s the thing. I want us to compete every play in all aspects of what we do. If we just clean up some of the fundamentals, the eye placement, the foot discipline and being super competitive every play, that’s going to fix a lot of the problems that was had. I totally expect for us to go from being last to tops in the country with the improvement that we’re going to make.”
Pittman certainly feels he got the right man for the secondary when he hired Woodson.
“Then Marcus Woodson, I thought he was the best defensive backs coach in America,” Pittman said. “I think what they did at Florida State proved that. But he’s a better man. … They’re recruiting machines, now. Us trying to watch the basketball game talked about four, five, six guys last night.”
When Woodson was hired he was announced as co-defensive coordinator with Travis Williams. Pittman explained how the co-defensive coordinators will work.
“Travis Williams is the defensive coordinator and Marcus is the co,” Pittman said. “In other words, Marcus is going to handle everything in the backend. He’s the man back there. Certainly he’s going to have the help of Deron (Wilson), but he’s the main secondary guy.
“When they meet together, I’m assuming his voice will be heard quite a little bit. But Travis Williams is our coordinator and Marcus certainly deserved the co-defensive coordinator title because of his experience and what he’s going to bring to us. And to be honest with you, there’s no way I could hire him just as a secondary coach because he’s earned that right to be a coordinator.”
This isn’t the first time that Woodson and Williams have worked together. Woodson had high praise for Williams on Wednesday.
“Yeah, well first off, we’re brothers,” Woodson said. “We were at Auburn together. Similar to what Dan (Enos) just said about him and Coach Pittman, I mean, we just hit it off right away, and it felt like we had been knowing each other for a lifetime when we first met. His wife, my wife, his kids, my kids, we’re all one family.
“In terms of coordination of the defense, he’s the defensive coordinator, and he’s the chief of that room. I’m an Indian. However I can help in terms of the big picture, when he asks for my input, I’m gonna give it to him, but my sole focus is primarily, as Coach Pittman mentioned, the back seven and how we do things to get the back end cleaned up and make this whole thing go in terms of the big picture. But he’s the defensive coordinator, I’m gonna be right by his side and helping him in any type of way he needs my help, and at the end of the day, we’re just gonna do what’s best for the defense to be the best in the conference.”
Wilson came to Arkansas from Florida where he served as a defensive analyst in 2022. Woodson explained how he and Wilson will divide up duties in the secondary.
“We’re two different people, but we’re going to be one as we work together in the secondary,” Woodson said. “It’s gong to be times when I take the corners, he takes the safeties, and there will be times when I take the safeties and he takes the corners. It’s really going to be us working together and just finding what the best fit is for the players that put them in the best position to be successful.”
Woodson is one of five new assistants on Pittman’s staff for the upcoming 2023 season.