UA Two-Minute Drill: Defense Forces Fumbles, Tackles Well

by Chris Bahn  on Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2010 9:48 pm  

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FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas’ offense cut down on the number of tipped balls in practice on Wednesday. Fumbles instead became the issue.

Offensive players coughed the ball up on at least four separate occasions as coaches allowed hitting for the first time. It was a frustrating issue for the offense, but further sign that the defense is zeroed on forcing turnovers, something that led to what limited success the unit had in 2009.

“You’re running to the ball and you’re always going to get great things happen,” said cornerback Ramon Broadway, who came up with two forced fumbles. “We had a big year of turnovers last year. How do you go out and top that? You come out and work harder. That’s my goal. … We know turnovers win games.”

Arkansas defensive players had been active in forcing interceptions and tipped balls in recent practices.

Linebackers coach/special teams coordinator John L. Smith was pleased with what he saw from the defense. Particularly encouraging for Smith was the way the defense tackled, an area where the team struggled last season.

“We livened it up today,” Smith said. “We need to see more from a defensive standpoint of live tackling and hitting down-hill. We have made sure we can tackle. That was a good thing to see. We’re going to keep doing that.”

Don’t forget Lance Ray when going through the list of capable receivers at Arkansas. Ray redshirted last year and is behind the team’s big four of Jarius Wright, Joe Adams, Cobi Hamilton and Greg Childs, but he has had moments in camp that suggest he’ll be able to contribute if called upon.

Ray provided proof of that on Wednesday with what would have been a 50-plus yard touchdown catch from Ryan Mallett that was easily the play of the day. Ray was covered step-for-step by Isaac Madison and wrestled the ball away from the defensive back after Mallett dropped the pass into his receiver.

Defensive tackle Zach Stadther has to work his way back to the first team where he played last year. Stadther missed the first practice of preseason camp and he was slowed by strep throat until recently.

“I’m back to 100-percent,” Stadther said. “[Being sick] put me behind.”

*Wide receiver Joe Adams was not at practice on Wednesday. There was no word on why he was absent.

*Without Adams at practice, the punt return opportunities were split between tailback Dennis Johnson and freshmen Marquel Wade and Eric Bennett.



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