FAYETTEVILLE — Defensive end Julius Coates is making a pretty quick adjustment from junior college to SEC Football with the Razorbacks.
Coates has been praised twice by Sam Pittman in recent weeks saying he played his best game. The latest was following Saturday night’s game against Texas A&M.
“I did think that our D-line played better than what I was thinking during the game,” Pittman said. “I thought Julius Coates had his best game.”
Coates was asked if he felt he did anything differently against A&M than previous games?
“I think I was more technically sound,” Coates said. “I think I was in my gas mode when I needed to be. I think I’ve been trying to work on shedding blocks more. Me and my coaches and have been working on that. I feel like I can two-way a lot of them blocks, I mean, the shedding and getting off of the blocks, just coming off of my releases, just everything technical. I think the more I focus more on just being technical the better I do out there. So, the keyword is being technical to everything I do out there, and it’s less work for you when you’re being technical. Need to be fundamental.”
He also talked about how he feels the adjustment to the SEC from junior college has been for him.
“I feel like I’m starting to pick things up more,” Coates said. “I feel like things are starting to slow down a little bit for me. Just transferring one level to another, things can be a little fast at the beginning, game one to five now, but I mean, the more you do film study and just going through practice every day like it’s game like, things start to slow down. That’s what it’s been for me. Everything started to slow down and seeing everything, see what’s coming. That’s really what it’s been, seeing everything, and then from there, make plays.”
In four games, Coates has seven tackles, five solo, one tackle for loss, a sack and quarterbach hurry. Coates spent the early time at Arkansas adapting to play at this level and showing patience while learning the system.
“Definitely man, definitely, definitely, definitely,” Coates said. “That was big for me. Naturally, I just want to consider myself a play-maker. I try to make plays. Being at end, the play doesn’t always come to you. You’ve got to understand that. You’ve got to play your role. Sometimes getting in the gap you need to be in. Hold the backside down if you need to hold the back side down. Obviously, there’s a lot of patience that goes into that. I know I want to make some plays, but I’m playing my role, man. It’s a learning process, but it’s definitely a lot of work that goes into it.”
Due to the opposing offenses, Arkansas has used a lot of three-man fronts. Coates talked about how much experience he had in that type defense before arriving at Arkansas.
“I did it a bit last year at East Mississippi (Community College), so it wasn’t fairly too new,” Coates said. “It was a bit new coming in and getting it done, but I’ve got all the tools to do it, you know what I’m saying? I have no problem doing it. I feel like, I mean, it’s very effective, so I love doing it, really. I feel like it’s a challenge. We’ve got three of us, and usually there’s five or if they bring in some tight ends, we have to go against like seven guys. A running back would be eight. But we take it upon us to say, ‘Hey, we’re still going to get there. Three-on-seven, three-on-eight, three-on-five, either way we’re getting there. We just want to help our guys in the back. I just take it as a challenge, man. I feel like I’ve got a lot of tools to use. Whatever they need me to do. Whatever position they put me in, I’m going to try to make a play out of that. So, three down, it doesn’t really faze me much, honestly. Three down, two down, four down, we’re down. Just trying to get there.”
With Tennessee coming to town for Saturday’s game, Coates feels the Arkansas defense will have to be able to defend the run which is something the Vols love to do.
“It’s a lot of counters,” Coates said. “You’ve got the split zones. They counter on that back side. He likes to take advantage of the back side, so we’ve got to make sure that’s closed down. They’re going to look probably try to… Well, I don’t want to say holding or anything, but we know we’ve got to edge on the back side, got to be working to close that down because there’ll be a little seam there to get on that hash. We’ve been working that this week. That’s what I’ve been focused on.”
Coates will be one of the defenders also keying in on Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano.
“I see he’s composed back there,” Coates said. “He knows what he’s doing. He’s been there for a little bit, so it’s important to get back there and get the pressure every week. So you know I’m going to take the same (approach that) it’s important to get back there every week. I don’t think it’s really the Tennessee quarterback, you know what I’m saying. It’s definitely important to get him off of his seat, get him out of the pocket.”
Coates talked about the things he and the rest of Arkansas’ defense has to do to have success against Tennessee’s offense.
“Defend for the run game,” Coates said. “They have a big O-line. They’re a bunch of talented guys. The run game, get that established run defense. Definitely the run game. That’s a big focus point.”
Last week, Coates and the Hogs played a very big offensive line at Texas A&M. He talks about the Vols offensive line they will face this week.
“Bunch of real good guys,” Coates said. “I mean, they loaded. They adjusted their recruiting lately, so, they got five stars across the line. Five stars for a reason. They’re going to be solid and come out and they’re going to be technical. So, you just got to be efficient and take that each each week.”
Dorian Gerald is a senior defensive end who returned from an injury in the season opener to play against the Aggies.
“I feel like he’s coming on strong,” Coates said. “Dorian is another JUCO guy. He’s a fighter, so he’s working to get back. When he gets back, he’s going to be DG, so he’s just working to get back. He’s looking good this week, moving around a lot quicker, a lot faster. I think he’s trusting (his foot) a little bit more. If he keeps working he’ll get back to where he needs to be.”
Arkansas and Tennessee will kickoff at 6:30 p.m. Saturday night on the SEC Network.