Can John Chavis whip Arkansas defense into shape?
SEC Country reporter Eric W. Bolin will candidly answer your Arkansas Razorbacks sports queries each weekday in our Mailbag Question of the Day. Join the conversation by sending your questions via Twitter to @SECCountryHogs or by email to Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Question of the Day: Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2018
Recommendation No. 1 to Arkansas fans: Don’t expect miracles.
That isn’t because Chavis is not a good hire. It isn’t because he’s overrated or the game has passed him by. None of those negative things the glass half-empty folks bring up when talking about Chavis apply here.
Don’t expect miracles with Arkansas’ defense in 2018 because it doesn’t have the personnel right now.
McTelvin Agim is a high-round NFL talent. De’Jon Harris looks like a future NFL player. Dre Greenlaw is an All-SEC player. Santos Ramirez may be. Ryan Pulley, if healthy, is one of the best cover corners in the SEC. However, four of those players were part of the defense in 2017 which finished 13th in the SEC in yards allowed.
They aren’t the issue. Those five players will be fine. For Chavis’ first defense at Arkansas to take more than a casual step forward, he needs the other holdovers to do the same.
Guys like TJ Smith and Briston Guidry. Young players like Kamren Curl or Montaric Brown. Randy Ramsey and Gabe Richardson. The first and last groups are players in line to get snaps, or have plenty already, but simply need to further their output. Curl and Brown are young players with potential.
It’s hard to say, precisely, what types of scheme Chavis will run. Coach Chad Morris has suggested in the past he wants a multi-look front. That makes the most sense given Arkansas’ personnel. They have a lot of bodies, but not a lot of established ones. Count on a 4-3 most times with a nickel package showing up second most often. Personally, I wouldn’t be shocked if a bit of 3-3-5 was thrown in, as well (it should be).
A lot of it, though, is guessing. Not a square peg/round hole thing. More we don’t know how the parts will fit. A lot of the players who need to step forward are back, but offseason development is huge with them. Combine that with an unfamiliarity of what Chavis wants and its going to be springtime until we get answers.