FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said last week that he had been “tinkering” with the idea of switching to a 3-4 base defensive scheme in 2017.
But Razorbacks fans might get a little glimpse of what next season might look like Dec. 29, when the Hogs take on Virginia Tech in the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, N.C.
During his news conference Monday in Fayetteville — his final press availability before the team departs to Charlotte — Bielema told reporters that his team might employ some 3-4 looks against the Hokies.
“You are always looking for new looks, and anything we can do to bring some pressures from both edges, boundary and field … this quarterback obviously is a very athletic quarterback,” Bielema said, “so we have to keep that in mind, that anything that involves different looks that they haven’t seen are going to be beneficial.”
Arkansas’ defense struggled mightily this season, especially against the run. The Hogs ranked 94th in the country in run defense, allowing an average of 209.3 yards on the ground per game.
In an embarrassing Oct. 22 loss at Auburn, the Razorbacks allowed a school-record 543 rushing yards.
Arkansas will lose starters JaMichael Winston, Taiwan Johnson and Jeremiah Ledbetter on the defensive line next season, but return several starters on defense otherwise.
One key defensive cog who won’t be back next season is defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr., who played coy when asked after Tuesday’s practice if the Razorbacks were working any 3-4 sets during Belk Bowl preparations.
“It’s been going well,” Wise said. “I think we’ll do good.”
When asked if he would elaborate, Wise just laughed.