FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas is undefeated after two games and the defense has only surrendered one touchdown while scoring two themselves.

Western Carolina scored a touchdown in the season opener while Kent State didn’t manage one this past Saturday. Arkansas’ linebackers have scored a pair of touchdowns with pick-6. True freshman Brad Spence returned an interception 85 yards for a touchdown against Western Carolina. This past Saturday, USF transfer Antonio Grier Jr. returned a pick 25 yards for a touchdown.

Jaheim Thomas, who transferred in from Cincinnati, leads the Hogs with 20 tackles, including seven solo and 3.5 for loss. Thomas also has 1.5 sacks and a pass breakup. In addition to Spence, Grier and Thomas the Hogs have gotten good play from Chris “Pooh” Paul and Jordan Crook. In practice on Monday, the linebackers were getting very physical working on tackling. Sam Pittman talked about that on Wednesday.

“Well, we didn’t wrap up very good,” Pittman said. “The only way I know how to get better at it is to go do it. I’ll be honest with you, I was out there watching it live too and I was like ‘man.’ They were getting after it. Every group was having a tackling circuit, but this one right here drew your attention to it because of the noise that was going on. Yeah, a lot of strong hitting right there. We didn’t wrap up good Saturday, and we wanted to make sure we emphasized it.”

Paul has 10 tackles, including four solo and one for loss. He also has added a sack. Spence has added five tackles with one solo plus the interception. Grier has three tackles, one solo and the interception. Crook started against Western Carolina and has three tackles including one solo.

Crook got the start against Western Carolina, but didn’t see much action against Kent State. Pittman talked about what Crook has to do to get additional playing time.

“Well obviously a lot of things that each and every player at any position would have to do,” Pittman said. “He’s got to be more consistent with his mental part of the game. Got to wrap up a little bit better in tackling. Sometimes it’s just, if you’re three or you’re four, sometimes the opportunities for playing just aren’t there.

“Obviously we went…Antonio was here last week when he wasn’t the week before. There’s nothing wrong with Crook, it’s just he needed to practice and do some things, which he has this week. I wouldn’t be shocked at all if he’s out there playing some ball for us on Saturday.”

Spence is the only true freshman of the group. He started against Kent State. Pittman talked about how Spence has played in the two games thus far.

“Well, I think he played maybe 13 plays or something, 19 or 13,” Pittman said. “Not as many plays as what we might’ve thought going (into it). The game didn’t go quite like we thought it would there in the first half. But I think this: that he’s very physical. He’s getting more and more confident. I think he’s going to be a really good linebacker in the future and obviously we thought he was ready for that start, which he was. He’s young. I mean, he’s way ahead of young. We’ll play him and he’ll get quite a bit better as the season goes on, too, because he’s very physical and can really run.”

Paul started against Missouri and Kansas to end last season. He has yet to start a game this year though that could change on Saturday. Paul was suspended for the first half of this past Saturday’s game due a targeting call against Western Carolina.

“I had a good talk with him,” Pittman said. “He did play some good ball in the second half Saturday and I’m expecting… We thought going into camp that he was going to be as good a linebacker as we have and unfortunately for whatever reasons, what you just mentioned, we haven’t seen that. But we got a little glimpse of it last week. I expect him to have a great game. He’s practiced well, so I expect him to grab some confidence and with that, he’s got a lot of talent.”

Paul saw extensive action last year alongside Drew Sanders while Bumper Pool was nursing various injuries. Pittman feels that Paul is a very important player for Arkansas.

“A lot,” Pittman said. “By some of the things you just said. He’s such a really good kid, he’s a hard-worker, but he has special speed. He can make plays a little faster than what a lot of guys can. You know and I know a yard difference, half-yard difference is a big deal in being able to get a guy on the ground. I think what we’ve got to do is get confidence in him first and then he’ll get it into the — it’ll wear over to the team. I think he’s going to have a really good game.”

In addition to the targeting suspension, Paul has also dealt with a nagging injury in preseason. Pittman feels that he’s seeing a healthier Paul now.

“Health-wise, he’s fine,” Pittman said. “He’s ready to go. We had a little problem with the tight end crossing and going into the flat. We missed that twice on Saturday. But Pooh is running well, moving well. He made a nice tackle on I guess their longest play the other day. He came down and made a tackle 20 yards down the field or whatever. He’s just been hurt or out of the game. We’ve got to get him settled in, but I do think he played a fine game.

“Jaheim Thomas has been probably the most consistent guy that we’ve had. Probably our best linebacker in two weeks. Of course we’ve got Grier in there. Crook didn’t get a chance to get in there, just the way the game was going and all that, but we certainly believe in him as well.”

Pittman feels that Thomas was a very important addition after facing him in the season opener last year when the Hogs hosted the Bearcats.

“He’s pretty much mistake-free,” Pittman said. “Right now, he’s our most consistent tackler. Not jumping out of gaps. Pretty much gap sound in there. He’s just a guy that, for those reasons, been playing pretty well.”

Arkansas and BYU are both 2-0 and will kickoff at 6:30 p.m. in Razorback Stadium on Saturday. The game will be televised on ESPN2. The Razorbacks defeated BYU 52-35 last season in Provo, Utah.