FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Even though Paul Rhoads added a new title this offseason, his practices — so far, anyway — are pretty much the same.
Rhoads, who coached Arkansas’ defensive backs last season, is the Razorbacks’ new defensive coordinator. Arkansas completed its third 2017 spring practice — and first in full pads — Saturday afternoon.
But with Arkansas installing a brand new 3-4 base defense, Rhoads said it is still important to give his defensive backs attention during the actual practices.
“Especially in installation and times like that, you really have to focus on your group,” Rhoads said after Thursday’s practice. “You can’t cheat them. They’ve gotta be coached. They can’t just wait until the meeting room to be taught.”
Rhoads said that once the Hogs get into the actual 2017 season, he might spend a little more time with the defense as a whole and delegate some of his time with the secondary to graduate assistant Mark Sheridan.
Head coach Bret Bielema was Wisconsin’s defensive coordinator from 2004 to 2005 and, in addition to overseeing the entire defense, coached linebackers. Since becoming a head coach, Bielema has typically had his coordinators also serve as position coaches.
Last season was an exception. Former defensive coordinator Robb Smith was officially listed as a secondary coach, but Rhoads was that unit’s actual position coach.
“I think Paul, during practice itself, concentrates on the back end,” Bielema said. “Unless there’s a big break, you’ll see him go over and talk to a support player or someone who should have the edge or someone who lost contain or someone who broke a coverage. And I know he makes notes during practice. But you get the bigger picture on film.”