New defense hot topic at early press conferences

In case you haven’t heard, Arkansas will have a new defensive alignment this year.

Yes, that was sorta tongue-in-cheek. Every Razorback fan knows it.

And, as usual, there is a certain confidence that it will fix the problems of last year’s defense which was balanced in that it struggled stopping the run and the pass.

Now they are going to a 3-4 look, which is intriguing on many fronts.

The reason? The Hogs struggle to get quality down linemen and to have a successful four-man front, you need eight people.

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“You don’t have to have eight to have a two-deep, you only gotta have six,” defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads said Friday afternoon. “It’s one of the reasons we switched to a 3-4 system.”

And Rhoads can make it sound fairly simple:

“Oh, I can tell you exactly,” Rhoads said. “The noseguard’s gotta have his hands on the center and take care of the A gap.

“The ends gotta have their hands on the tackle and take care of the B gap.

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“Our outside linebackers have to set the edge and anything that comes at ’em and be involved in the passing game.

“Our linebackers gotta go where the backs go.

“And our secondary can’t let people behind ’em.

“If 11 guys are doing those things on a play-by-play basis, regardless of the call, we’ve got a chance to play good, competitive defense.”

That sounds good and doable. Traditionally, the 3-4 is prone to teams running up the middle. Some offensive systems can come up with blocking schemes that open up some wide running lanes.

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But, the bottom line, it may be the only way the Hogs have a chance defensively considering the level of talent they have on the roster.

Schemes are great.

In the end, though, it nearly always comes down to who has the best players.

And that, Hogs fans, is the biggest question mark of all.