Arkansas’ John Chavis reflects back on Play of Defense Against Alabama

By Otis Kirk

Arkansas defensive coordinator John Chavis watched Alabama put 65 points on the scoreboard on Saturday as well as 639 yards of total offense.

On Monday, he talked about what he saw from the Tide who scored 21 points in the first quarter and 41 in the game.

“I am gonna start with the way I feel,” Chavis said. “I will make this perfectly clear. l’m disappointed, but I’m not disappointed in our players by no stretch of our imagination. We’ve got to coach them better, get them prepared better. We have got to play better and that’s where we are.

“There are plays that was disappointing. We’ve never started a game where we played three plays, they gained 160 yards and scored 14 points. From there on it didn’t get much better. What we’ve got to do, and we’re already in the process of putting that behind us a lot of lessons to be learned for me, our staff as well as our players.”

You have faced Alabama 31 times as a coach. How does that Alabama offense rank with the ones you have faced?

“You know how can you say anything other than it’s probably the best?” Chavis said. “I think as you see them they have kinda evolved to a different offense since when Coach (Nick) Saban got there. They were a big pro-(style) team ran the ball. They still do some of that, but they are a lot more spread and more RPOs.

“They have obviously got a very, very talented quarterback and he has got a lot of talent to get the ball to. They did a great job of preparation and a great job of executing. I used to say 1995 we faced an Ohio State team in a bowl game and I thought maybe at that time the best offense we ever played against. I can’t say that any longer.”

How much of it against Alabama was mistakes your players were making versus the speed on Alabama’s side?

“I think again we won’t talk players, but on the first play of the game we had a Y that came back behind the formation that we should have picked up,” Chavis said. “We should have made that play. Even when we didn’t make that play we had three or four opportunities to get him tackled. That didn’t occur. They’ve got talented people running with the football. The third play of the game we finally did get him on the ground, but the ball came out and they recovered it to score a touchdown.

“Those kind of things happen, but were there some times we could have been in better calls? You doggone right. I take that into consideration when we sit in there and watch that film. I don’t hide it from our players. If we’re not in a great call, hey that’s on me. That’s on me and I am gonna own my work. Our players have done a tremendous job of preparation. They are giving us outstanding effort. We’ve just got to teach them better and help them. That’s what we’re gonna do and we’ve already started the process.”

On the first play from scrimmage, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa found Irv Smith Jr. for a 76-yard touchdown. The second touchdown was a 12-yard pass from Tagovailoa to Henry Ruggs III who fumbled and Josh Jacobs picked it up an ran it in from the one-yard line.

It appeared during the game Arkansas defensive end McTelvin Agim was being held pretty frequently and even was choked once trying to get to the quarterback. Agim became frustrated during the game. Chavis spoke about that as well on Monday and Arkansas handles the frustration.

“We handle it on the sideline,” Chavis said. “I’m not going to single out anybody, but I guarantee you he wasn’t the only person frustrated. When you let some things happen that we let happen you have to be able to settle your team down and get everybody back together, and that’s what you have to do. If you say, ‘Hey, coach, were you frustrated?’ There were a couple of times that I was, but I’ve got to keep my composure and I’ve got to help them keep their composure, and that’s what we’ve got to do: we’ve got to build. Is there any difference in the way how we’re going to approach things? We’re going to do it like a family and we’re gong to hold each other accountable. And before I hold them accountable, I’m going to hold myself accountable.”

Chad Morris also talked about the defense on Monday giving his impressions of how they played.

“Defensively, I did not think we give ourselves a chance,” Morris said. “We got out-leveraged starting on the first play of the game and it happened several times throughout the game. Against a team with that caliber of speed, it doesn’t take much to get you out-leveraged. We only got them in six third-down opportunities.

“When we did have opportunities to make plays, make stops, and it didn’t go our way on a certain play, we were unable to let that play go and play the next play. I thought we let one bad play lead to another bad play. We didn’t create turnovers. That’s one of the things we always talk about is creating a minimum of three turnovers. But there were times there were some good things that happened. There was a fourth and 1 when the score was 21-7 and found a way. We just couldn’t be as consistent as we needed to be, especially against a team of that caliber.”

When your team gives up that many yards in a game do you look at possible personnel changes?

“Well, I think you’re always looking at personnel changes and competing at different positions,” Morris said. “And whether you gave up 300 yards or 600 yards, you’re always looking at how you compete out on the field and being able to have the competition that you need at practice to keep pushing each other and continue to grow.”

Arkansas will be in Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium on Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. to face Ole Miss. The game will be televised on the SEC Network. The following week, Saturday, Oct. 20, Arkansas will play host to Tulsa in Reynolds Razorback Stadium at 11 a.m. on the SEC Network.