FAYETTEVILLE — Much has been said about the type defense Arkansas will use this fall.
Some recruits have talked about Arkansas will run a 3-2-6 with four safeties while another noted a 3-3-5 base. The truth is those are all correct and even a base defense with a four-man front will be used at times. Odom will use multiple formations.
“We’re going to be really multiple,” Odom said. “My history is more of a 4-down front. There’s times that we’ve got to find the right personnel and what that’s going to look like schematically as we take some time through getting on the field. We’re installing a lot of different stuff, right now. I think creatively you’ve got to be a great teacher, and you’ve got to put your kids in position to go play fast and play with confidence. And the overall structure on what that’s going to look like, we’ll be multiple.
“I grew up in a 4-down defense, so to speak, but I have also gone the last few years, especially the time at Memphis, we were an odd stack team a number of times throughout the course of the season. So, there’s things that we’ve got to do continually no matter what the depth chart looks like. It’s putting the best 11 on the field to try to put us in position to allow them to play fast, understand the scheme and schematically what we’re trying to get done but also give us the best chance about what we’re facing offensively to try to defend the number of things that you see on a given Saturday and from week-to-week on the number of things that you see and prepare for. So, we’ve got a lot of things in. We’ll continue to base… I don’t know if I can sit here, if we had to produce a depth chart today, then probably give you two or three depending on what we’re going to be running.”
Some of the defensive ends in Odom’s system will likely be redshirt senior Dorian Gerald, sophomore Mataio Soli, junior Julius Coates, sophomore Zach Williams, redshirt freshman Eric Gregory, redshirt senior David Porter, redshirt freshman walk-on Morgan Hanna as well as some incoming freshmen.
On the inside, Arkansas has redshirt senior Jonathan Marshall, redshirt sophomore Nicholas Fulwider, redshirt sophomore Isaiah Nichols, senior Xavier Kelly and redshirt freshmen Taurean Carter, Marcus Miller and Enoch Jackson plus some incoming freshmen.
The reason defenses are so multiple now is the offenses have gotten more and more sophisticated spreading the field. The challenge of covering so much speed spread all over the field has forced some defensive coaches to find ways to get five or six defensive backs on the field much of the time. It’s almost like is there really anything that can be considered a base defense now?
“I think there’s always – you base a core philosophy, beliefs and foundation and how you want to play defense,” Odom said. “More than anything that overrides the initial structure on what schematically you are going to look like exactly. So those are more things that we are building on every day, the ability to influence them and the spirit and competitiveness that it takes to play good, solid defensive football and it takes the 11 guys on the field understanding their job, where they have help around them, what we’re trying to do within the play call. And then you want to take away what that offense does, what they do really well.
“You want to try and eliminate some of those things. So we’re Elementary Football 101 and starting from the ground trying to build a foundation in such a way that is going to carry us when we need it in the times whether it’s situational football or third down, the 2-minute drill, or the last play of the game.”
Despite no spring practices, Odom likes what the defensive players have gotten accomplished with the virtual meetings.
“All the different things that go into teaching football, we’ve been able to spend time on all those things,” Odom said. “I’ve said it before but I’m excited about what this team has retained, the information that they are seeking. They’ve got some competitiveness about them on wanting to learn. They are hungry to be in a position to be coached and I’m so thankful and honored to be a part of this staff that’s building this program where we all want it to be.”