Arkansas Football: Defensive Coordinator Not Happy

by Chris Bahn  on Friday, Aug. 15, 2008 9:37 pm  

This story is from the archives of

How is Arkansas' defense progressing?

Uh, not very well, it seems.

Razorback defensive coordinator Willy Robinson met with media following Friday's second practice. Robinson held nothing back when asked about his unit, the injuries currently plaguing defensive players and what improvements need to be made.

Earlier in the week Robinson questioned the defense's "mental toughness." Following Friday afternoon's practice, he seemed to question everything about the defense as they finished preparation for a Saturday scrimmage.

What has Robinson really upset is a perceived lack of leadership and effort. Arkansas is low on seniors at defensive positions and the ones who are there, apparently aren't taking the sort of ownership Robinson would like.

"Right now as coaches we go out there with more emotion than our players do. We can't play anymore. We've got to generate that momentum and that motivation to them. But it's how they respond to that. ..."

Each day it seems a new defensive player is out because of injury. Robinson said players didn't seem to understand the difference between legitimate injury and nagging pains that they must fight through.

We'd like to have our players understand the difference between pain and injury. If they're injured, they don't practice. If they have pain, they've got to work through that. That's what we're looking for. We actually have more kids out on the field that have just as much pain as the guys that have decided to not do this. But they're fighting through it. So if you go back to leadership, that's how you build leadership. That's how you build toughness."

Because there is a lack of consistent leadership, inconsistency on the field has been a problem, Robinson said. Friday's early practice went well, but the afternoon session was poor, something Robinson said coaches have been dealing with since practice began Aug. 4.

"We've got to learn how to practice our way. [Friday] was a little bit better in the morning. But the inconsistency that carries over to the afternoon, that's us right now. And we don't understand it's not one day on, one day off, one practice on, the next practice off. It's consistency. That comes with maturity and toughness, and toughness starts here in the heart and [in the head]. When everything else starts getting weak, the mind gets stronger. Right now everything is weak. Our minds are weak.
"Write it. I want them to hear it."

Apparently a handful of players ARE doing things right, but Robinson didn't want to name names. He instead ripped the defense as a whole.

"This is about team. This is not about individual. This is about us. So I'm not pointing that out to anybody. I'm not going to call anybody out. Maybe it's back on me. Putting it right back at me. To be honest with you, my 9 1/2 shoes should be halfway up their track right now."

Other items of note:

*Arkansas will host its Fan Day activities in Walker Pavilion on Saturday. Fan day will run from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m.

Oddly enough, fans will not be allowed to watch Saturday's 9 a.m. scrimmage. The first 20 minutes are open to media, but not fans.

Last week's scrimmage was open to the public.

*Elston Forte missed practice for the second day in a row. He was did not attend either practice session. Forte's injury is not known.

*Antwain Robinson left the early portion of practice with what was later revealed to be a hyperextension of his left knee. Robinson's injury shouldn't keep him out for long, defensive coordinator Willy Robinson said.

*London Crawford and Lucas Miller have emerged as consistent go-to threats during offensive drills.

*Freshmen Khirey Battle and Elton Ford continued to get first-team work at linebacker and safety, respectively.



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