Arkansas coach Mike Anderson recaps the Razorbacks' ...
Chris Smith Q&A
Arkansas defensive end Chris Smith reacts after sacking Louisiana-Lafayette quarterback Terrance Broadway during the first quarter of play Aug. 31, 2013 at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas defensive end Chris Smith leads college football with 4.5 sacks through the Razorbacks' first three games this season.
Smith is the leader of a defensive line that is considered one of the best in the Southeastern Conference, alongside upperclassmen Trey Flowers, Robert Thomas and Byran Jones. The group has helped Arkansas to a No. 11 ranking in run defense through heading into Saturday's game at Rutgers.
In this edition of Q&A, Smith talks about the differences in the defense this season, last year's loss to the Scarlet Knights and the Razorbacks' tough upcoming stretch of games.
Charlie Partridge was saying Rutgers does a lot of things running the ball that you guys do in your offense as well. Is that going to be an advantage for you guys?
Smith: We’re gonna try to make it an advantage and that’s the good thing we see it every day from our offense and things of that nature, little glitches in there. So that’s one thing we just gotta play at our fundamentals and just come ready to play each and every play.
When you guys right now look at the national numbers and see total defense so high up there, what does that mean to you at this point?
Smith: I really don’t look at them but you know we just gotta stay consistent. Like I said, can we do it again next week. After we have a good game like last Saturday we had a good game, can we do it again next week and that’s what we’re gonna try to do.
You played in this game last year. Is this defense more equipped to stop this team this year?
Smith: Oh yeah, we just as far as our coaches, they’re putting us in the right positions and that’s one thing Rutgers is a good running team, they’ve got the number one running back in the nation as far as yards. One thing we’re going to try to do is just slow him down.
Do you prefer to face a running attack as opposed to a spread attack?
Smith: Well you know I prefer pass a little bit but you’ve gotta stop the run that’s one thing we gotta do this week to try to stop the run and make runners one-dimensional.
You guys talked all preseason about all these expectations and you’ve said that for a few years now what’s been the difference so far?
Smith: Just not worrying about it. We had a lot of outside stuff going on and things of that nature but at the end of the day its all about how we’re playing football and having fun. I think that’s what everyone is doing, going out there and having fun. A lot of guys that hadn’t played in the past years have been playing and they’re just hungry and excited out there. Just to get out there and just play so I think that’s the main difference.
Do you think its more coaching influence through these first three games as far as change or just players getting better?
Smith: I feel like just players like I said just getting hungry just coming out here to play each and every day and guys becoming more students of the game and growing on up. We had a lot of young guys on defense and they’re growing up and getting better each and every day.
How have things changed during the game? Now that you’re three games in, what’s different with them (coaches) and what effect have they had?
Smith: Just as far as getting us in the right spots. They’re real students of the game, too, that’s the thing about these coaches they just get it. I’ve seen what the past coaches did, and a lot of guys are just buying in. I feel like, just go back to before and guys are growing up. Especially for my coach, Coach Partridge, you know he’s just a hell of a coach as far as just our technique and the way we do things. You might think you can do good on one play and he’ll say that’s a good play but when they show you this or show you that you gotta be able to transition to that. And that’s one thing about them they’re always just getting us better no matter how good we play. I mean last week, that was a good game for me but I feel like I can play better. If I could get six sacks, that’s what I want to do but that’s one thing he said you can do better and that’s one thing he just stays hard on them.
You feel pretty good about your decision to come back at this point?
Smith: Oh I do, I do. Just to come back and get my degree and things of that nature, so I do feel good about it.
What have the first three weeks been like as far as the line?
Smith: It's going good. I feel like Southern Miss, you know there’s a couple teams that had good offensive lines, but we just gotta stay and use our technique. Like I always say its not who you play its how you play. We just gotta focus on us. And that’s one thing Coach Partridge always says, is to live the gospel you know how you shoot your hands, and gain ground and shed and make plays.
Seems like you make a play, Robert Thomas makes a play, Trey Flowers makes a play; I mean what’s it been like do you guys just feed off each other?
Smith: Yeah, we do and that’s just as far as our chemistry. We know each other. One time when I made an inside move, Byran he went outside, and coach was like, Did y'all plan that did y'all talk that out?' And we said, 'No it's just what we do its just a chemistry thing. We’re just a family, we’ve been playing with each other three or four years.' That’s one thing we just gotta do, we gotta keep that chemistry going and the consistency and just being coachable, and going out there and play our fundamentals and technique.
Does it eat at y'all that you lost to Rutgers last year?
Smith: You don’t want to lose, you know nobody wants to lose, but that’s one thing we gotta do is just learn from our mistakes last year and just get better, and just try to come out with a win this week.
As the schedule kind of gets ready to turn it up a notch here what do you guys still have left to prove?
Smith: Just to come out and play hard every day. On Saturdays, as far as D-line, stop the run, and linebackers help on the run, too, and the secondary just to stop the pass. Our main thing is just everybody, to go back to the terminology the coaches used last year, everybody do their one-eleven. Everybody just do their job and we’ll be alright.