Paul Haynes said the defense still has a long ways to go in both the coaches and players eyes.
Alonzo Highsmith is working hard to get back on the field for Arkansas and get ready for the season opener on Sept. 1.
Haynes was referring to the film after Saturday night's scrimmage when the offense scored the first five times it had the ball. The defense did stiffen from that point forward though and play better.
“The things we pride ourselves on we didn't do a good job in and that's tackling,” Haynes said. “We have to do a better job of tackling. You start watching through it and there was a lot of good things too. There's a lot of stuff to work on, but it's a long season and we can't peak right now. We don't expect to be as good as we will be in November.”
Haynes said the term step-to-contact was what was wrong with the tackling on Saturday night.
“When you watch the tape that's what they weren't doing,” Haynes said. “When you don't do that, you're going to lunge to contact and reach to contact and you miss against very good guys. We've got good guys over there so we stress to our guys that every time we've got to step to contact. We made it a point in practice all week that we're going to concentrate on tackling. They've done a great job so far.”
“Not at all,” Haynes said when asked if he was worried about them. “[Eric Bennett] is doing good too. We're being smart with those guys, it's a long season and we want to make sure we don't pop them in there and do something stupid with them. They will be fine when they get back out there and get going.”
Haynes does feel that true freshmen Otha Peters and A.J. Turner may be the two players who have benefited the most from the two senior linebackers missing practice.
“Those young guys are coming along,” Haynes said. “I look at A.J. and I look at Otha and they have been making plays and running around out there. I think they are getting more confident also too. T. (Terrell) Williams is doing a better job too with his confidence and his talking and kinda leading the defense and being the General. They're coming along and we're going to need them to good things for us this season. Having Kiero (Small) over there has helped fill that void some with leadership.”
Haynes said while they are starting to work on some Jacksonville State stuff, they are still working more on fundamentals.
“We're concentrating on our base and fundamentals and technique,” Haynes said. “We've still got to get better at the things we do first.”
Haynes said the players can get better at tackling without taking each other to the ground.
“If we can thud a guy up in space I'm going to be able to tackle,” Haynes said. “It's when you don't do that in practice is when you have problems tackling. It's when you just tag off and let guys run that you have problems. We do as much as thudding up as possible because then you can see a guy tackled.”
The Razorbacks will return to the practice fields on Thursday.