FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas middle linebacker Brooks Ellis made his 29th career start in a 21-20 victory over Louisiana Tech last Saturday.
Of all the great games the 6-foot-2, 245-pound senior has played as a Razorback, the win over Louisiana Tech was arguably his best performance to date, according to coach Bret Bielema.
His stats — 6 tackles — don’t stand out as exceptional. What did stand out came via the coaches’ film evaluation.
“I don’t think I’ve ever coached a game where I had a (middle) linebacker with zero mental busts,” Bielema said. “(Ellis) was a guy that was locked in every play. Especially for an opener, he was pretty impressive because they gave us new formations, new looks and stuff like that.”
Defensive coordinator Robb Smith added: “If there was one guy that was in the right place all day long Saturday, it was certainly Brooks.”
Bielema said Ellis was one of two defensive MVPs in the season opener along with senior defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr. Senior wide receiver Keon Hatcher and sophomore running back Rawleigh Williams III were the offensive MVPs.
Ellis will need to be on top of his game again in Week 2 as the Hogs face a high-powered TCU offense that averaged 42 points per game last season and scored 59 points in its season opener vs. South Dakota State.
He could be relied upon heavily to get the defense set and make calls at the line of scrimmage in some cases against TCU’s up-tempo, spread style.
“The biggest thing for Brooks this week is to be able to manage our tempo defensively and to match what they do,” Smith said. “As things go quickly we will be on Brooks to get us in the right defense. Especially if there is a repeat play or that type of thing.”