Arkansas' defense hasn't been as good in recent seasons as most hoped it would, but a position that has been very good is defensive end.
Chris Smith, 42, and Trey Flowers gives Arkansas a very good one-two punch at defensive end.
The Razorbacks will return senior Chris Smith and junior Trey Flowers this year and both are among the elite at their position in the SEC. Flowers likes how the spring has been going under the new staff. Last season, Flowers had 50 tackles, including 22 unassisted, 13 tackles for loss, six sacks, three pass breakups and one quarterback hurry.
“It has been going good,” Flowers said. “We're working on our fundamentals and the new stuff the coaching staff brought in. We're learning a lot.”
Charlie Partridge now coaches the entire defensive line and has impressed Flowers with his knowledge of the game as well as his coaching methods.
“He really coaches technique,” Flowers said. “He is technique sound. Our defense is going to be technique sound. We end practice doing individual. He's working on us with a lot of technique.”
Flowers said that Partridge has helped him improve his game.
“I would say technique,” Flowers said when asked where he has improved the most this spring. “I would say the steps, footwork and all that. I'm just trying to keep on improving. I kind of started off thinking about it too much early, but now I'm getting the hang of it and making it second nature. Just playing football.”
Flowers likes what the potential is for this defense both in the fall and in the future.
“It's going to be whatever we make it,” Flowers said. “Up front, we take it and embrace that the D-line will go as far as the team goes and the team goes as far as the D-line goes. We're just going to embrace it and go out there and make plays and do what we know we can do.”
Many have asked if the Arkansas front will be more of an attacking one or one of react and read under Partridge. Flowers was asked to address that as well.
“It has been the spring so we haven't put in too many blitzes,” Flowers said. “It has been pretty simple, we're playing base. He wants us to make plays, no doubt, but it's more of a technique defense. Its not designed for one person to make plays. It's for everybody to be technique sound and we just make plays as a team.”
Flowers and Smith will be backed by some young, but very talented players. JaMichael Winston, Taiwan Johnson, Brandon Lewis and Deatrich Wise were all true freshmen last season. All redshirted, but now will be asked to help immediately with the departures of Colton Miles-Nash and Austin Flynn.
“We've got some talented young guys,” Flowers said. “They're all making improvement each and every day.”
Smith finished the 2012 season with 52 tackles, including 28 solo, 13 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, four pass breakups, 12 quarterback hurries and one fumble recovery. Smith, like Flowers, likes what the Razorbacks have behind the pair this year.
Smith noted that Philon works mostly inside, but has been asked to play off the edge on occasion.
“We're putting in different stuff like that,” Smith said. “Taiwan has also been playing end and inside. Wise has been doing good too we've just got to get him better on the run. He's improving everyday and he's going to get better.”
Smith said one of the biggest differences in the previous coaching staff and Partridge is in the film watching.
“He shows us different drills and that stuff, but one thing about Coach Partridge we didn't do in the past is we watch a whole lot of NFL film,” Smith said. “We don't just watch one thing. He shows us professional guys who do it the best and I think that's what has helped us out a lot.”