FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas’ defense is forcing turnovers at a high rate this preseason.
Linebacker De’Jon Harris continues to pick off opposing passes. According to Jonathan Marshall, Harris did it again on Thursday getting one off of Nick Starkel.
“I think he had two of them today,” Marshall said.
What do you think about him getting all these takeways?
“It’s very good,” Marshall said. “It’s just good.”
Sounds like defense is getting a lot of takeaways every day, as you guys just doing that well or are you worried about the offense turning it over that much?
“Honestly, we’re being more aggressive on defense than we were last year,” Marshall said. “Last year we were playing a little timid because we were new to the system.”
While getting the interceptions are good for the defense especially if they continue into the regular season, but what can be done to get more sacks?
“Just attack off the ball,” Marshall said. “The philosophy is man to man defense up front. That’s all we’re doing.”
In 2018, Arkansas’ defense had 26 sacks. They are hoping to up that total this fall.
Marshall is at 304 this season. That is up considerably from the weight he played at in 2018.
“Last season I think I got down during the middle of the season I was 275, 280,” Marshall said. “I gained all my weight back.”
Arkansas will hold its first scrimmage of the preseason on Saturday. It will be big for the entire team and will help set the early depth chart. What is the defense’s goals this Saturday?
“Defensively we’re just looking to stop everything,” Marshall said. “Stop what we can. That’d be good for the defense to really stand out and try and make a point.”
Though it happened earlier in the week when John Chavis was sprinting behind Jalen Catalon following an interception it’s still on the mind of the players today. De’Jon Harris talked about it on Thursday.
“I loved it,” Harris said. “Chief always gives us that energy. That is the type of energy that we always have on the defensive side of the ball and always play with.”
What kind of style points would you give him?
“I would give him 10 out of 10,” Harris said.
Harris talked about what is leading to him intercepting passes as a fast clip this fall.
“Just working hard early in the passing game better than I did last year,” Harris said. “That is one of the things that me and Chief focused on.”
With Dre Greenlaw now in the NFL, Harris has sophomore Bumper Pool working beside him now at linebacker. Harris sees an improved Pool this fall compared to his true freshman season in 2018.
“More confident, better understanding,” Harris said. “He kind of grew up in the spring time, playing faster than what he played last year. As a true freshmen, he was thrown in their early when Dre hurt his ankle, but he looked way better now.
“I could see his head spinning. This a tough scheme to learn. We kind of switched him. He was playing Mike last fall and in fall camp we switch him to Will behind Dre so I know his head was spinning when we just threw him out there.”
But it isn’t just Pool that is more confident this fall, Harris says he is too in the second year under Chavis.
“I am way more confident, especially by sitting out the spring time so anything that I didn’t like understand or just need to re-go over with Chief, I had a lot of time to do it,” Harris said. “That’s what I did, just took advantage of that. That was my opportunity from being out of spring ball and that helped me a lot.”
Weather at Practice
Defensive end Dorian Gerald talked about the first two practices in pads including Thursday’s that was in cloudy, overcast conditions.
“Pretty good,” Gerald said. “I think the defense, we flew around a little. The job was to come out and fly around in full pads. I think we did a good job of executing.
“It was hot yesterday, so we had to get used to that, but I think it’s been good. I don’t think we’ve slowed down. I think we’re playing how we’re supposed to be.”
Do you know what the turnover count was on Thursday?
“Four, if I’m not mistaken,” Gerald said. “We got them all in the second half. I’m not sure exactly when, but I know we got two on the first unit, but I don’t know exactly. I think they got another one on the other side.”
While it’s obvious good for the defense the team is getting all these turnovers, but are you worried about the offense?
“No, I just think we’re all getting each other better,” Gerald said. “We all need it. They need to get better. We all need to get better. I don’t think it worries me one bit.”