Two-Minute Drill: Razorbacks Preparing For 'Dynamic' South Carolina Freshman

by Chris Bahn  on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010 10:41 pm  

This story is from the archives of ArkansasSports360.com.

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas hasn’t faced South Carolina tailback Marcus Lattimore yet, but defensive coordinator Willy Robinson is ready to tab the freshman as an elite SEC running back. Robinson is speaking historically, not just in terms of backs the Razorbacks have seen this season.

“The more we study him, you’re looking at putting him in a position that he could end up being one of the best that the conference has had in a long time. He’s that good,” Robinson said. “For a true freshman he’s a dynamic guy. He has great feet in the hole. He runs with his pads down and forward. There’s very few times you see him get struck and he doesn’t make yard after it.”

Lattimore has run for 722 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. He seems to relish contact and has a knack for getting yards after defenders engage him. That put tackling at a premium this week for the Razorbacks as they try to slow Lattimore, who is averaging 103 yards per game rushing, plus 34.3 receiving yards each outing.

Arkansas is among the leagues lowest-ranked SEC teams in stopping the run. Opponents are averaging 163.13 rushing yards per game against the Razorbacks. That ranks them No. 9 in the SEC and 78th nationally.

Trouble has often come for Arkansas because of poor tackling. It’s something they can ill-afford this week.

“You have to wrap up,” linebacker Jerico Nelson said. “You can’t just go in and try to take a shot at his legs. Sometimes we watch on film [Lattimore] ran through a couple of tackles. We just have to come out and wrap up and gang tackle.”

Should the Gamecocks establish a run game it will be a departure from last year’s meeting. South Carolina managed only 53 rushing yards in a 33-16 loss to the Razorbacks.

Of course Lattimore was still in high school this time last year.

Arkansas knows the challenge is greater this time around. South Carolina is a more balanced team. Focusing solely on Lattimore isn’t possible because of big, tall receivers like Alshon Jeffery. Arkansas gave up 116 yards on five catches to Jeffery in 2009.

“They’re explosive,” Robinson said.

No Decision
If a punt returner had to be named today it would be wide receiver Jarius Wright. He filled in last week with Joe Adams out because of an ankle sprain.

Adams has practiced the last two days and is still being evaluated by coaches. Wright is ready to fill in if needed, but special teams coordinator John L. Smith said nothing has been decided and evaluations will continue of Wright’s performance and Adams’ health.

“At this point we don’t know for sure,” Smith said.

Speaking Out
“It’s a mater of being able to react quicker, see things faster, being able to trust what you see and react. Chris has made great strides on that. We’ll continue to get him more reps.”

—Defensive coordinator Willy Robinson on freshman defensive end Chris Smith. Arkansas coaches had high praise for Smith in preseason, but he has not played much so far this season.

 

 

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