Defense reminds us they can make plays … at least against Hogs’ offense

Photo by Arkansas Communications

You can chalk it up to an interesting combination of changing rules in college football and an apparent lack of interest, but Arkansas’ defense hasn’t exactly garnered headlines in awhile.

They did in Friday’s second scrimmage of fall camp that capped off an apparent strong week in what Sam Pittman has called “a work week.”

“Our defense played much better this week, much harder,” he said later. “It seemed like they were in better shape than they were a week ago.”

Of course we have no way of knowing if the defense made strides to be ready for a 10-game SEC schedule or not because it was against the Hogs’ offense that has been sputtering along like a car running on half the cylinders.

But it’s really the first time in this camp we’ve heard the defense had the upper hand.

“You’d probably be more concerned if one side won a scrimmage every single time,” Pittman said. “It’s like in life, people pat you on the back and you get complacent. I’m not saying we did that on offense but certainly we weren’t the same offense we were a week ago … nor was the defense the same it was a week ago.”

He probably didn’t know the exact details until after watching the video.

“Any time you improve you have to feel good about one side but is there concern about us holding onto the ball?” Pittman said. “Absolutely.”

We were warned before the press conference started the scrimmage was one-sided and defensive coordinator Barry Odom got some revenge.

That was confirmed by Pittman when we got the numbers. Granted, they were quick-whistling the offense, but still it is something positive for a defense that hasn’t had a lot of bright spots for a few years.

Senior end Dorian Gerald and redshirt freshman end Eric Gregory had what were called “touch sacks.”

Junior cornerback Jarques McClellion, sophomore walk-no Simeon Blair and true freshman Nick Turner each had interceptions.

Junior safety Joseph Foucha forced a fumble, and sophomore Jalen Catalon recovered it. Catalon also had a tackle for loss, and so did senior linebacker Don Edwards.

“All I know is Joe came and hit it and the ball is on the ground and I rolled over and got it,” Catalon said. “I can’t really remember who was running it or what happened or anything like that, but I just know that Joe made a big hit and the ball is on the ground, and I just recovered it.”

That as the closest we got details on, but it was a positive for a side of the ball fans complain about a lot but is often over-shadowed by scoring points.

“It was a really good play for the defense, and Joe brought the boom, and I recovered the ball,” Catalon said.

On offense, Rakeem Boyd was “extremely” limited and Feleipe Franks obviously wasn’t going to be getting racked up by defenders.

Still, the offense knew it wasn’t a great day for them.

“We just knew that we didn’t play to the max of our potential,” wide receiver Trey Knox said. “We didn’t have a good day as a unit. The defense got after us, as I said earlier, and we just knew we had to make strides.”

It wasn’t hard to tell Pittman wasn’t happy with the offense. Despite liking what he saw with the improvement in the defense.

Which, of course, is the way things go in fall camp.

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