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New DC Haynes Says Cotton Bowl Could Provide Preview Of His New Arkansas Defense

New Arkansas defensive coordinator Paul Haynes is in an unusual position.  Hired quickly enough after the regular season that he’s already on staff and coaching his new team in their bowl game, the ex-Ohio State assistant says the Hogs’ defensive style in the Cotton Bowl might provide a preview of what he’ll do next season.

Asked if his gameplan for Kansas State will be more of what Arkansas has done in 2011 or what he plans to do going forward, Haynes said:


“I think it’s going to be a little bit of both.  But, again, I think one of the reasons why I’m here is there is a little bit of similarity to what we did at Ohio State and what we do at Arkansas.  It’s going to be a little bit of both.  A little bit of a mixture.  But, to me, football is football.”


Haynes also said yesterday that the “jack” linebacker position used by Willy Robinson the past four seasons will remain a part of the Hogs’ scheme.  “Those type of guys, that position, will stay for sure.”  That position is basically a hybrid safety-linebacker spot.

The Razorbacks will — finally — face KSU in the Cotton Bowl tomorrow night.

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PM Coaching News From Around The SEC

With so many coaching moves — and rumored moves — today, this post will serve as our PM Headlines post.  And since we’re in the middle of doing radio shows from Tennessee to Arkansas to Kentucky to Alabama to Georgia… with CSS’ “SportsNite” coming up at 6pm ET, we’ll just cut to the nitty gritty.

1.  It’s being reported in Chapel Hill that Southern Miss head coach Larry Fedora has been offered the same job at North Carolina.  Fedora is in New York along with UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham and a deal could be struck today.  However, Texas A&M officials are in NYC, too.

2.  The Aggies interviewed Fedora yesterday.  Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart is also believed to have interviewed with A&M brass.  Kevin Sumlin continues to be mentioned in connection with that job, too.

This morning, AggieYell.com — the Rivals site covering A&M — reported that Dan Mullen and Dabo Swinney had expressed interest in the job.  Now that site is reporting that Kyle Whittingham might be a player in the mix as well.

The site also shot down rumors that Georgia’s Mark Richt is a candidate in College Station.  (Uh, no kidding.)

3.  Reports from KFSM-TV in Fayetteville/Fort Smith claim that Arkansas defensive coordinator Willy Robinson has been dismissed.  Robinson was absent from a team meeting last night.  The station reports that former Arizona head coach Mike Stoops and current Green Bay Packers assistant Joe Whitt Jr. — who worked with Petrino at Louisville — will be candidates for the job.

Bobby Petrino has the Razorbacks rolling on offense.  That likely won’t change anytime soon.  If he can land the right mind to improve his team’s defense… look out.  UA has had back-to-back 10-win seasons in the SEC with so-so defenses.  If they can just go from so-so to good — not even great — they could compete for titles for years to come.  (Of course, they’ll also need to start recruiting a bit better on that side of the ball.)

4.  Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn is still being mentioned as a potential head coaching candidate — along with many, many others — at Kansas.  Malzahn, however, has told sources close to him that he expects to be back on The Plains at Auburn next year.

Speculation has also tied ex-SEC coaches Phillip Fulmer and Houston Nutt to the Jayhawks’ job.

5.  Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain has been linked to the head coaching vacancies at both Fresno State and Memphis.  McElwain served as the offensive coordinator at FSU under the recently fired Pat Hill for one season in 2007… before Nick Saban hired him at Alabama.

6.  Steve Spurrier had only good things to say about running backs coach Jay Graham who is leaving South Carolina for the same position at Tennessee.  “Coach Graham did an excellent job here for the past three years.  He told me that coaching at his alma mater is something he wanted to do.  He’s a very good coach and an outstanding person.  We wish him the best in his coaching career.”

Spoken like a man who once left Duke to go coach at his alma mater, Florida.

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SEC Stat Analysis: Quick Sand

Yesterday morning we showed you a stat we call Quick Strike.  It’s a simple measure of points-per-offensive-plays-run that shows us which SEC teams score with the greatest ease. 

Today, we bring you the opposite measurement.  We call it Quick Sand.  It’s designed to show you which SEC defense force opponents to run the most plays in order to put points on the scoreboard.

As was the case with our Quick Strike numbers, this is a team measure.  We include all points allowed by a team (including on special teams and via turnover returns) and then divide that figure by the total number of defensive plays run.

Bad special teams play and bad offense can obviously impact the yardage a team has to defend and the number of points a team will give up.

Below are the numbers from across the SEC.


Quick Sand (Points-Allowed-Per-Play in SEC contests only)

School
SEC Record
Points Allowed
Defensive Plays
Points Allowed Per Play
LSU
6-0
47
338
.139
Alabama
6-1
53
373
.142
S. Carolina
6-2
135
516
.261
Georgia
6-1
135
424
.318
Miss. State
1-5
138
418
.330
Arkansas
5-1
139
417
.333
Vanderbilt
2-5
160
475
.336
Florida
3-5
191
548
.348
Auburn
4-3
204
480
.425
Tennessee
0-6
191
389
.491
Kentucky
1-5
216
426
.506
Ole Miss
0-6
209
409
.511



Observations:

* The top six teams in our Quick Sand rating have a combined SEC record of 30-10.  The teams on the bottom half our table are 10-30.  You do the math.

* It’s remarkable that LSU and Alabama — through a combined 13 conference games played — are still so close defensively.  Each play their opponents run is worth less than 15% of a single point.  That’s “all-time” type good.

* On the other end of the spectrum, each play a team runs against Kentucky or Ole Miss is worth more than half a point on the scoreboard.  Hard to win games — regardless of what your offense is doing — when your defense is giving up points by the bushel barrel.

* MSU’s defensive performance — combined with its overall SEC record — shows that Dan Mullen’s problem isn’t on defense, it’s with his own offense.  More and more it’s looking like the offense Urban Meyer brought from Utah (and Mullen then took to Starkville) requires either a suffocating defense to go with it or a hall-of-famer at quarterback to run it if it’s going to reach top o’ the conference heights.

* How ’bout Arkansas’ defense?  They aren’t known for being particularly wicked, but the Razorbacks don’t surrender points easily.  Willy Robinson’s squad might not be flashy, but they’re getting the job done.  Of course, having an offense that gets ahead and consistently makes opponents one-dimensional helps, too.

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SEC Headlines – 9/29/11

Short number of headlines today.  We’re rushing to put together some new expansion numbers for you that we hope to have up sometime between tomorrow and Monday.

1.  This writer puts the over/under on how long Will Muschamp will last at Florida at six years.

2.  It’s rare for the Gators to be a home underdog… but they are against Alabama.

3.  Two more backups have left the Georgia program, reducing team depth once more.

4.  Kentucky is preparing for Saturday’s showdown with The Mad Hatter.

5.  A bad sign: In just his second year, Joker Phillips is the subject of a “give him more time” column.  Yikes.

6.  South Carolina has three outstanding defensive ends and only two defensive end positions to fill.

7.  Obvious statement: Tennessee needs to run the ball better.

8.  Cuonzo Martin says having Bruce Pearl around Knoxville won’t be “a distraction at all.”  (Let’s see what he says after a couple of losses when folks start their “Bring Back Bruce” campaigns.)

9.  Vanderbilt will be sticking with Larry Smith at quarterback.

10.  Alabama linebacker CJ Mosley will be a game-time decision on Saturday.

11.  Harvey Updyke — alleged tree-poisoner — didn’t admit to attacking the trees at Toomer’s Corner, but he did say on the radio yesterday: “I just want to tell the Auburn people that I’m truly sorry for all the damage I’ve done.”  (Nope.  That’s not an admission at all.  Next he’ll write a book with OJ called, “If I Did It.”)

12.  Problems at Auburn have stalled the Gus Bus this season.

13.  Looks like someone else has now contacted MAC officials to discuss their scheduling of a 13-team league… as we did on Monday.

14.  Injuries are testing the depth at defensive end for Arkansas.

15.  Safety Tramain Thomas has taken some heat from D-coordinator Willy Robinson this week.

16.  Through four games, LSU is already at +8 in turnover margin.

17.  MSU’s defensive backs are stepping up at the right time.

18.  Can Ole Miss fix all that’s broken?

19.  The man behind a number of popular conservative radio shows is the lone point person of the Forward Rebels campaign to get UM to fire AD Pete Boone.

20.  The president of Ole Miss came out swinging yesterday, decrying the group’s “anonymous, malicious and public attacks” on Boone.  Dan Jones also revealed that he’s received threats stating that “it is going to get real ugly” if he doesn’t fire Boone… and that attacks on other athletic department officials might be next.  (Pathetic.)

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Let The Alabama-Arkansas Chess Match Begin

TJ Carpenter

While most fans in Alabama have completely disregarded the challenge the Razorbacks pose to the Crimson Tide, it will be much more of a chess match than they anticipate.

While most fans in Arkansas are still sweating bullets over a too-close-for-comfort win over Troy, the Razorbacks will be much more prepared to face Alabama than they could possibly hope for.

Neither coach wants to make this matchup about them over the teams, but that’s what it will come down to. Since being at Arkansas Bobby Petrino has yet to out-coach Nick Saban. But if there’s one guy who could do it, it’s Petrino. The offensive mastermind has been drawing up game plans and running through doomsday scenarios for almost a year to the day since losing a lead late last season in this same matchup. Saban and the Crimson Tide will be ready.

No one is better at reacting to in-game wrinkles than the Crimson Tide. What is most interesting is the Alabama offense’s slightly altered approach to the passing attack. Play action is what the Crimson Tide like to do most, but unlike in seasons past, AJ McCarron likes to spread the ball around to multiple receivers. Something that might actually be to their disadvantage. Alabama had nine separate receivers catch passes against North Texas. Lots of balance in the passing game is good. But it’s also something the Razorbacks are prepared for.

Alabama’s offense is a more run-heavy version of what Arkansas does offensively. The Razorback defense sees this offense everyday in practice for 4 straight years, and are ready to stop it. I can’t help but believe this was all by design.

Petrino’s approach to defensive recruiting and defensive coordinator Willy Robinson’s approach to scheming has been to stop run-heavy play action teams… or in layman’s terms: Alabama and LSU. Particularly Alabama.

As bland as Alabama is offensively and as many questions there are for Arkansas’ defensive secondary, I think both units will play very well. The key matchup in this game is Arkansas’ offense against Alabama’s defense. Both highly touted both considered elite with skill position players and linebackers respectively who are considered the best in the nation. Alabama will give up more yards on the ground than anyone is expecting. The lack of a large imposing figure in the middle of the line like Marcel Darius or Terrance Cody is going to play a huge part in that. The game will be won or lost on who wins the battle in the middle of the line, not who wins it outside the numbers. This is where the chess match will be won or lost between Petrino and Saban.

This is a clash of SEC titans. I’ll hedge here, because I absolutely love both teams and what they do. This game will come down to the wire. That’s what makes this matchup so great. If you’re expecting a blowout, don’t. This is as good as college football gets.

TJ Carpenter is host of The TJ Carpenter Show on The Hog Sports Radio Network from 1-4p (listen live at www.hogsportsradio.com) TJ contributes to www.arkansassports360.com

www.tjcarpentershow.com

 

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SEC Headlines – 9/1/11 Part One

1.  The writers for SI.com have made their college football picks for 2011.

2.  Alabama fans will return to a “different” Tuscaloosa on Saturday.

3.  Can Bama’s two-quarterback system work?

4.  If not for ex-coach Don James, Nick Saban might be selling cars.

5.  SportsByBrooks.com might have found photographic evidence that T-town Menswear was giving Bama players suits.  (Might, we said.)

6.  Freshmen will play a huge role for Auburn this fall.

7.  Barrett Trotter’s “even-keeled poise” could be one reason he’s starting at quarterback.

8.  Willy Robinson is ready to see his new defenders at Arkansas hit the field.

9.  Bobby Petrino’s coaching principles haven’t changed… but he has.

10.  LSU receiver Rueben Randle has to help out quarterback Jarrett Lee on Saturday.

11.  The Tigers are scrambling to fill a hole at left guard as their date with Oregon approaches.

12.  BYU will be trying to guess what’s on the mind of new Ole Miss offensive coordinator David Lee.

13.  Speedy backup tailback Jeff Scott gives the Rebels a different dimension.

14.  Dan Mullen’s got no qualms about bringing Texas A&M into the SEC.

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Hogs’ Robinson Concerned About Depth On Defense

Whether there’s a new quarterback or an injured tailback, no one spends much time fretting over Bobby Petrino’s offense at Arkansas.  At this point, Petrino appears to be the Steve Spurrier of the 2000s… players come and go, but the coach’s offense continues to put up big numbers.

To truly move forward as a program, however, the Razorbacks need to keep improving on the defensive side of the ball.  And D-coordinator Willy Robinson has some concerns heading into the season:


“I have some real doubts about how deep we are yet because of not seeing the seconds really develop into a solid backup.  They gave us great effort.  That was the one thing that stood out, it seemed like the second group had fun playing, they weren’t just quite executing well enough.”


Defensive end Jake Bequette doesn’t seem too worried about depth.  He feels it’s “pretty solid.”  “We’ve had some freshman who are definitely going to come in here and help us in that second unit for sure.”

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McGee, Robinson To Get Raises At Arkansas

Arkansas defensive coordinator Willy Robinson is in line to get a pretty nice raise… a 7% bounce, in fact.  That will take his pay to $375,000 per year.  Not bad.

Unless you compare it to the raise being given to offensive coordinator Garrick McGee.  McGee — who just completed his first year as OC and then interviewed for head coaching jobs at Tulsa and UConn — is getting a 29% bump.  His pay will jump to $425,000 per year making him the highest paid assistant on Bobby Petrino’s staff.

A 12% raise had been proposed for McGee prior to his interview with Tulsa.  One day after entering into negotiations with his hometown school, McGee withdrew his name from consideration. 

Perhaps we now know why.

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Three Quick Links for You

Arkansas
Content provided by Razorback Expats.

Bobby Petrino demands that you read this post and click on every link.

More photos »

Brett Flashnick – AP

Bobby Petrino demands that you read this post and click on every link.

Browse more photos »

Here’s a triple shot of quality Razorback links for you:

1. Chris Bahn breaks down where the Hogs rank in every major statistical category, both nationally and in the conference. Here’s a quiz to see if you’ve been paying attention this year: are we ranked higher in passing offense or kickoff returns?

2. Even though the national media is largely ignoring the Hogs, a BCS bowl really is within the realm of possibility should things break our way. The Hog Database takes a look at a subject I’m sure will be quite popular in the coming weeks. The bottom line: go Auburn!

3. One member of the national media who hasn’t forgotten about the Hogs is ESPN.com’s Chris Low. In this video, he has much praise for Willy Robinson and the rejuvenated Razorback defense.

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SEC Headlines – 11/4/10 Part Three

1.  Mike Dyer needs just 107 yards to break Bo Jackson’s freshman rushing record at Auburn.  Heady stuff.

2.  Cam Newton says the Tigers are about more than just him.

3.  Tony Barbee’s first squad opened the new Auburn Arena with an exhibition 79-66 win over West Alabama last night.

4.  Alabama defensive back Phelon Jones will face the school he transferred from on Saturday.

5.  Alabama has had a lot of success at LSU’s Tiger Stadium over the years.  A lot of success.

6.  LSU’s defense will be a bigger worry for the Tide on Saturday than Death Valley.

7.  Arkansas defensive coordinator Willy Robinson says Marcus Lattimore “could end up being one of the best that the conference has had in a long time.”

8.  The Hogs’ starting corners are 5-9 and 5-11.  Carolina has four receivers over 6-3.  Uh-oh.

9.  If Joe Adams can’t go on Saturday, the Razorbacks will have to find another punt returner.

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