When Arkansas Defensive Coordinator Paul Haynes took over in December he had one mission, to stop the run. His guys did that in the Cotton Bowl. Kansas State only gained 87 yards on the ground.
In the last six months Haynes has made it an even bigger priority, especially in fall camp. Two senior linebackers are going to lead that charge this season. Alonzo Highsmith was first on the team last season in tackles for loss. Tenarius Wright moved from defensive end to add depth to the position since the defensive line already has plenty of it. However, both of those players have been dinged up and held out of practice the last few days. Highsmith is nursing a hamstring injury and Wright removed himself from the field as a precaution with concussion-like symptoms. Coach Haynes says both players are doing fine and are being held out just to make sure they get to 100 percent.
Usually there’s a caution flag when players miss time this close to the season, but Haynes doesn’t see it as an issue.
“I think they know exactly what they're doing,” said Haynes. They're into it. They're getting mental reps.”
Both players are veterans, which also makes it easier.
“There's a lot of meeting time and we ask them questions,” said Haynes. It's not like they're away from us. They're with us. They're just not on the field.”