FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Paul Rhoads addressed the media Saturday afternoon for the first time as Arkansas’ defensive coordinator.
Rhoads is replacing Robb Smith, who is now in the same position at Minnesota. Rhoads served as Arkansas’ defensive backs coach during the 2016 season. Prior to that, he was the head coach at Iowa State for seven seasons.
Here’s the rundown of what Rhoads had to say:
- Rhoads opens by thanking head coach Bret Bielema: “I’m very appreciative of Coach B giving me the opportunity to run this defense.” Rhoads adds that he’s “very excited” and “eager” about the opportunity and challenge that comes with it.
- Rhoads on the team’s positive reaction to him being promoted: “I don’t want to come across the wrong way, but no, it didn’t surprise me. Football is a fun game and we want to have fun playing it and these kids want to have fun being coached and being taught to play it. And to me, that was a reflection of that response. And being favorable as it was did my heart good the first day.”
- On his style as a coach: “I am a fundamental guy as far as bending your knees, understanding how to change direction, understanding how to play with pad level. Understanding the responsibilities that go along with each individual job to collectively give us a chance to play sound defense. That’s where it starts, being fundamentally sound and being technically sound regardless of what it is you are playing. That’s what you have got to go out and accomplish.”
- Rhoads says he has one year experience with the 3-4 defense, which Arkansas is now shifting to. He shifted to that scheme in his last season at Iowa State. He adds there are several things the team can do in that system to give offenses different looks.
- Rhoads says being a position coach in 2016 was “a lot easier” than being a coordinator and head coach the previous 15 years. He adds that doesn’t mean it was totally enjoyable for him. “It left me empty to a certain extent, too, of wanting to have a bigger influence and wanting to do more. I’m very blessed to be in a situation where I get to do that right here where I was an with a group of young men that I’m very fond of.”
- Rhoads declines to elaborate on what went wrong for the defense during the 2016 season. “I would rather look forward than look back. There were a lot of factors that affected the output and performance of this defensive unit, but I am sure looking forward to 2017.”
- Rhoads says being a head coach again is “absolutely” something he wants to do. “I don’t like the way I finished up the opportunity I was given (at Iowa State).
- On looking forward to next season and improving on the last: “Simply stated, we can play better defense and I think we will play better defense.”