FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — An undersized defensive end throughout his career, Arkansas’ Karl Roesler believes he has finally found a suitable position entering his senior season.
Listed at 6-foot-1, 256 pounds, Roesler recently shifted to outside linebacker in the Hogs’ new 3-4 scheme. He has been working with the first team this spring. So far, it’s been a much better experience than playing on the defensive front.
“I was a little light for the inside,” Roesler told reporters on Tuesday. “I think I’ll fit well outside. I’ve got more leeway to move around and create plays. I stand up the whole time.
“The big difference is not getting double-teamed by the guard and the tackle all the time. I’m just addressing tackles and tight ends.”
With the position switch comes expanded responsibilities. Against the pass, rushing the quarterback should come easy for Roesler.
Dropping back in coverage, however, is something he has little experience with during his 4 seasons at Arkansas or previously as a standout end at St. Xavier High School in Louisville, Ky.
“I feel fine on pass coverage,” Roesler said. “I lost about 10 pounds in the winter. I’m around 250 right now. I feel good.”
Then there’s stopping the run, a major issue for the Razorbacks last season. Arkansas was 128th — dead last — nationally with 39 rushing touchdowns allowed.
By comparison, SEC West rivals Alabama (5), Auburn (8) and LSU (7) didn’t even allow double-digits rushing scores. It’s much of the reason for the overhaul from the 4-3 and a parting of ways with defensive coordinator Robb Smith.
In the 3-4, a heavy burden is placed on outside linebackers to improve where the run defense was lacking last season. Roesler is well aware and expecting to be part of an improvement.
“You stop the run outside first, which helps because we gave up a lot of outside runs last year,” Roesler said. “We weren’t doing so well on the edges, as everyone knows. I think it helps the outside stuff.”