Hogs: Defensive front seven must stiffen at Florida; Mitchell honored back home
FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas coach Bret Bielema had said recently that junior linebacker Braylon Mitchell of Heber Springs would be called home for one day this season to participate with former President Bill Clinton in the 50th anniversary ceremony of the Greer Ferry's Dam dedication ceremony performed by President John F. Kennedy in October 1963.
Jr. safety Alan Turner made
a career-high 13 tackles
last week vs. Texas A&M.
Mitchell told media after Wednesday's practice that Thursday is the day.
"It's actually in the morning, tomorrow morning," Mitchell said Wednesday night. "My high school coach (Steve Janski) called me and said I was asked to come down there and before the President speaks I say the Pledge of Allegiance. It's a pretty big honor and a big deal to me. It's going to be a good honor getting to meet Bill Clinton and knowing he's from Arkansas. Just having him as our president and knowing he wanted me to come out there and help him out will mean a lot to me."
Mitchell has prepped three full days for Saturday's 6 p.m. (CDT) SEC game against 18th-ranked Florida at the Gators' "Swamp" in Gainesville.
MORE FRONT SEVEN; LESS TURNER
Arkansas junior strong safety Alan Turner recorded a career-high 13 tackles Saturday during the Razorbacks' 45-33 SEC loss to Texas A&M.
Arkansas defensive coordinator Chris Ash sighed relief at every Turner stop, but he has challenged the front seven to stop Florida's running backs before they trek deep to Turner's territory as the Aggies did.
"I would like to have the front seven make the majority of those tackles," Ash said, "but I am glad we have a safety back there who can get them down."
Two among the front seven, Braylon Mitchell and junior defensive end Trey Flowers, also appreciate Turner serving as the last line of defense but know the grief awaiting if Turner makes a lot of tackles Saturday.
"We definitely don't want our safeties making a lot of tackles downfield," Mitchell said he has been told by Ash and linebackers coach Randy Shannon. "If our front seven gets the job done, we will love that. This week we are working hard on the D-line and linebackers making tackles on first contact and definitely not letting the running back get yards after contact."
Flowers prefers not to look back and see safeties Eric Bennett, Turner and a now healthy Rohan Gaines angling to catch somebody the front seven missed.
"For our safety to make tackles means they broke a leak somewhere up front," Flowers said. "We know they are going to run the ball downhill so we have got to take pride in stopping it."
Turner did note that not every tackle a safety makes comes at the end of a long game. "In our defense, we have the safeties to make plays for the run game," Turner said. "We are there to make plays. So if we possibly have got to make them, we can't be just out there covering guys. We have to tackle, too."
Turner probably already has logged more time for these 3-2 Razorbacks since Gaines was injured during the season opener than he did the previous two years on special teams.
"I knew I just had to be patient," Turner said. "When I was on special teams I just had to keep working and the opportunity presented itself and I just had to make the best of it."