The Arkansas Razorbacks are far from a defensive powerhouse. Will the defense improve under defensive coordinator Barry Odom?
2020 Arkansas Razorbacks SEC Defensive Rankings
- 11th in yards per game (451.7)
- 10th in points per game (34.9)
- 9th in passing yards per game (259.6)
- 12th in rushing yards per game (192.1)
Before looking at the real highlight of the Arkansas Razorbacks, see what an anonymous SEC coach said about their defense to Athlon Sports:
"“They drop a lot of guys, I think as the offense was coming along the idea was to try and keep it all in front of you, don’t take big risks with the pass rush. Nothing in particular stands out for them on defense.”"
Well, that is certainly not a vote of confidence
Let’s be honest, the defensive coordinator is the main reason for the Razorbacks to have hope. Barry Odom was certainly not the answer in Columbia. But, he may be the defense’s solution in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
There were notable improvements before and after he joined Arkansas’ staff. Granted, there was only room for improvement. The 2019 Razorbacks’ defense was last in the SEC in yards and points per game, plus last in rushing yards per game.
So anything better than last in 2020.
Arkansas was very good at stopping opponents’ explosive plays, with a safe coverage style and little pressure generated. Even with this, the Razorbacks ranked 103rd nationally in yards allowed per game. Metrics say this was a much better defense and the three wins added in 2020 may well be an indicator of that.
Only one individual stands out on the Razorbacks’ defense, and he may be the best safety in the SEC. Redshirt freshman Jalen Catalon was a 2020 first-team All-SEC selection and lead Arkansas in snaps and interceptions, a sign of his importance and leadership for the defense.
Don’t forget about the Razorbacks’ activity in bringing in transfers, including two former Missouri defensive linemen. Look for the team to continue improving, following a string of down seasons.