Foucha excited to display new secondary in Red-White game

By: Dudley E. Dawson
Published: Thursday, April 4, 2019
Joe Foucha, Arkansas free safety, tackles Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State quarterback, on a run in the third quarter Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Miss.
Photo by Ben Goff
Joe Foucha, Arkansas free safety, tackles Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State quarterback, on a run in the third quarter Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Miss.

— When we last saw the Arkansas secondary, it was getting lit up by future NFL draft pick Drew Lock of Missouri.

The new secondary, complete with a couple of reinforcements and more experience, will be unveiled Saturday during the Red-White game at 3 p.m.

Sophomore-to-be Joe Foucha (5-11, 198), who had 11 tackles in 192 snaps while playing in nine games and starting against Missouri as a true freshman, is looking forward to displaying the new group.

“Just to show that our secondary is back there, no deep balls,” Foucha said. “We have linebackers that are going to come up and tackle so we want to show how much we have improved by showing how we hide the post, making sure they don’t know where we are blitzing from. I feel like we have grown and we are going to show that a lot this Saturday.”

That includes getting much more physical according to Foucha, who chose Arkansas over Auburn, Texas A&M, LSU, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Texas and others.

“The drill that they put us through, us going against the tight ends and receivers has made us very physical because we got to be hands on like with the receivers blocking we got to go heads up,” Foucha said. “We got to go against them a lot this spring so that made us very physical and I can say that the team got more physical as a whole.

“Each week we have gotten more physical. We are in the toughest conference so we have got to be physical. So each week we do a different drill to be physical and it has worked out very much.”

Arkansas secondary coach Ron Cooper has tried to push his troops past a subpar season of a year ago.

“It is very competitive, especially what we have learned from Coach Coop so like now we can have fun with it,” Foucha said. “We didn’t have much fun with it last season so it was kind of bad. Now we know that we can hide it (coverage), show here, show there and not give it up. It is going to be big Saturday.”

Foucha is one of several Arkansas players from the New Orleans area, something he sees as a plus.

“There’s a lot of guys, so each year there’s somebody coming up in that next spot every year,” Foucha said. “Down there (in New Orleans), we’re physical. That’s what we’re brought up on, being physical. Most of the guys come in and you can’t coach heart. Being from New Orleans, we’re brought up that way to have heart. Once we get here, it’s just learning the fundamentals.”

Foucha teams with Kamren Curl as the starting safeties while Montaric “Buster” Brown and Jacquez McClellion man the two cornerback slots.

He believes both Brown and McClellion could end up being shutdown corners.

“To me, I said he (Brown) was going to be once he learned, once he got comfortable,” Foucha said. “His hips, his feet, he’s physical at corner and that’s what we need - a physical corner.

“Of course ‘Quez, he played a lot last year, so he has a lot of experience, so as things go on, he just needs to get a little more physical and he’ll be a shutdown corner, for sure.”

Foucha got a chance to work with Curl last season.

“I mean it helped a lot because we built up a brotherhood,” Foucha said. “We can take that to the field. On certain calls, I know Kam has got my back and he knows I have got his back in the post. That is the most helpful thing we are going to need, that post help. I know he got me and I got him.”

Arkansas also has Myles Mason and walk on Brenden Young as safety depth this spring while early enrollees Devin Bush and Greg Brooks, Jr., were added in January and have been in the mix this spring.

The group had a good day on Thursday, the last true spring practice of 2019, while going against SMU grad transfer Ben Hicks.

“We did good, maybe only one deep ball completed and that is good for a secondary playing against a good quarterback,” Foucha said. “He is smart and makes good decisions with the ball and doesn’t throw into double coverage that much. So giving up one deep ball was a good thing today.”

Arkansas head coach Chad Morris came up with a championship belt to award to either the offense or defense after each practice.

The offense won it one time, which came during Tuesday’s practice.

"We got it back today, so they got to babysit it for a day," Arkansas defensive tackle McTelvin Agim said.

Foucha believes it was pretty competitive throughout spring practice.

“We’ve progressed a lot as a whole,” Foucha said. “If you watch practice, like with the belt deal, we won the belt mostly every time, so with the offense winning the belt, that shows improvement.

“Like I said to myself the day they won it, I was like, ‘That’s a good thing. That means iron sharpens iron. They’re getting the job done.’ We won the belt today because I feel like as a whole we’re improving a lot. We still have a whole lot room to learn from this spring."

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