Defensive Staff Talks Freshmen Defenders

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — All four defensive assistants other than coordinator John Chavis met with the media following Tuesday’s practice.

The four talked at length about various things on defense. However, here’s the things that were said about the freshmen who currently aren’t allowed to talk to the media.

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Kenny Ingram on Marcus Miller, Taurean Carter and Enoch Jackson inside on defensive line.

“All three of them they’ve got different things they do well. All of them have shown some signs of some good things and all of them have shown they are freshmen.  Marcus Miller, he’s doing really  right now. Enoch and Taurean, both of them are doing well. Taurean just had a moment, he had a little shoulder injury. But he’s doing well. He’s come back fine. But all three of them are staying within their own rights and abilities. They are doing some things good but they are also, they are freshmen.

“I try to push them all and try to get them to the college life and the college situation.  I would say all three in their own right and their own abilities have shown signs of positive things and showed signs of being freshmen  Each one has an area they do well.  Marcus Miller has been doing really well and more consistent and able to play a little bit up.  Enoch is growing and doing a great job of adjusting and doing what I’m asking him to do.  And T.C. is growing as well.”

Ingram on if they have play catch-up since none of the three were here in the spring.

“It’s not necessarily a catch-up, but an adjustment. This game is much different than high school and this conference is much different than high school. They’ve been going through and adjustment period and they’ve hit the ground running.  I demand a lot out of them. I coach them hard. So they’ve just been going through an adjustment period.”

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Steve Caldwell on Zach Williams, Mataio Soli and Collin Clay at defensive end.

“They’re all going to have to play. Every one of them. I see, obviously, Zach’s going to play a lot, so will Soli. Don’t be surprised if you see Collin Clay. So we have to get all three of those guys ready to play. We’re using David Porter now some at defensive end since Eric (Gregory) got hurt, so we’re going to have to make sure that all of those guys are ready to play.”

Caldwell on Gregory’s chances of playing when he gets back from ankle injury.

“Yes sir. When Eric gets back and we get him ready to play, we’ll get him on the field.”

Caldwell talks about the six defensive ends that will travel this fall in addition to the three seniors, Gabe Richardson, Jamario Bell and Dorian Gerald.

“It’ll be Soli, it’ll be Zach and I guess it’ll be Collin Clay/David Porter, one of those two right now until Eric Gregory gets back.”

Caldwell on adding speed in the trenches with this defensive line class.

“I know we did that this past season. We added speed, obviously, and we did add some depth. Really the depth came inside, yes, four guys on the outside, so when they’re all well and when you put Soli in there and you put Zach Williams in there, you’ve really got some speed. Eric Gregory can run, now, and Collin Clay has some great quick-twitch, so I think we really helped ourselves and obviously those three young guys inside, too, have helped us.”

Caldwell on the defensive end newcomer that has made the most plays so far this fall.

“It’d be between Zach and Soli. They’ve both made a lot of plays.”

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Ron Cooper on Jalen Catalon’s progress at safety.

“For Catalon to be nine practices in, he’s doing some good things also.”

Mark Smith on if Catalon has worked at the nickel.

“We have not. We have played him at high safety so far, but that’s something that Jalen can do as well, but we have not worked him there yet though.”

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Smith on what they have to do to keep the young guys from hitting a wall.

“That’s a good point and they do, but they’ve got to push through. The good part about training camp is to get their minds mentally prepared for what the days are gonna be like and really help them push through. The older guys have to come along and put their arms around them, encourage them and they’ve done a great job of that. The attitude and mindset  has been fantastic with them. We see them come in here every day with an attitude of we get to do this not we have to do this.”

Smith on the freshmen who came in at midterm as far as an advantage.

“It’s a huge plus. I always say that it is, more so from a standpoint of that once they’re here they’ve adjusted to the college life now. Because a lot of these freshmen that just got here in the summer during the month of August, it’s really just training camp, and it’s all football for them. Once school starts for them, then they’ve got to balance the school schedule with everything else we’re doing, so sometimes that transition is easier for some players and more difficult for others. The guys that are in here in the spring, they’ve already had time to go through that adjustment, so that is an advantage for them.”

Smith on Hudson Clark and Malik Chavis at cornerback.

“Yeah we’ve got Hudson Clark, has worked out there as well. Malik Chavis has worked out there, as well.”

Smith has more on Chavis.

“Malik’s got a great, long frame. He’s really what you’d like a body type to be at corner. Extremely long arms, and he can run. He’s really fast, so we’re working with Malik, right now. It’s just his technique and his fundamentals. As soon as those kind of come along. And he’s progressed so far through 10 practices. I mean it’s really a big difference in what he’s done. He’s going to be a really special player. Just kind of bring him along in a natural progression.”

Smith on Devin Bush.

“Devin has had a really solid camp. He’s going to continue to progress. I have to remind myself he really is a true freshman. He was here in the spring so we got to see him and work with him throughout the spring. But he really is a true freshman, and the more that we put on him, he’s responded to it. He’s done a great job. But we’re trying to just bring him along slowly. We’re conscientious of that with our progression with the younger players, and then also straining them at the same time and kind of how much can they handle? And then continuing to just stack that on top of it. But he’s done a great job.”

Smith on Greg Brooks.

“He’s just like Devin. Young players, but were here in the spring so we kind of expect a little bit more of them in certain areas. But we’re straining him as well. We want to continue to add as much as we can and keep then in some adverse situations and see how they respond, because then you know what they might do on a Saturday. But both of those guys are sharp, they’re smart, they understand the game and hopefully that’ll help them have an impact on Saturdays.”

Smith on Brooks’ injury and if he will return soon.

“I don’t know. I don’t know when they…yeah…I hope so. I know it’s not a major thing. Yeah, yeah.”

Cooper on how Catalon is progressing.

“Talented, still learning. You forget that everything is new to him. The speed of the game is new. The heat is new. You are expecting more to run to the ball than you have ever had to do. 

“At the same time, it is chaotic and he is learning to play through the chaos, which most freshmen have to do. Why do you have to have chaos? Because when you have 80,000 people in the stands, it isn’t going to be like high school. And you still don’t take that step until you get thrown out there.”

Cooper on if Catalon has played any in dime package.

“He has been playing 99 percent safety and a little bit of dime. Safety is like playing the Mike Linebacker and quarterback, you have to understand it. You can’t put it on a freshmen to try and learn everything. It’s too much.

“He is doing well now. I have got him at the hardest safety to learn. The field safety is a little bit easier, the boundary safety a little harder. But he is picking up on it. 

“Today, I would says was his nicest practice here.”