Razorbacks seek to maximize ’tweeners
FAYETTEVILLE — Betwixt and between customarily describes the nebulous position of indecision.
Hamlet’s “to be or not to be” or just plain “damned if you do and damned if you don’t.”
Surprisingly, then, betwixt and between is a cornerstone premise of the Razorbacks’ 3-4 defense they’ll practice again with Thursday’s commencement of preseason drills.
In football, betwixt and between doesn’t just mean an indecisive intersection. Defensively it means a type of player in build and skills that is kinda, sorta betwixt and between a defensive end and a linebacker or an outside linebacker and safety.
Coaches say the recruiting bushes proliferate with more ’tweeners, and some ultimately prove Hall of Fame great, than traditionally huge defensive down linemen or pure linebackers.
So University of Arkansas, Fayetteville ’tweeners like Randy Ramsey and Karl Roesler in last year’s 4-3 defense either lined up as too small defensive ends or otherwise mostly benched as strongside linebackers, a position often scrapped for the nickel back against Spread offenses, find a productive 3-4 home disrupting as outside linebackers. Jamario Bell, another talented ’tweener previously unable to find a home offensively or defensively, also seems to have found his niche.
“I think we have a better chance of getting four runners at linebacker as opposed to four war daddies on the defensive line,” Arkansas defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads said of the 3-4 over the 4-3. “It’s certainly ready-made set up with what we have.”
The Razorbacks’ men’s tennis program lost one of its greatest, arguably the greatest, player in its history.
Peter Doohan died at 56 in his native Australia of ALS, also known in the United States as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
All-American and All-Southwest Conference in singles, Doohan reached his zenith with former Arkansas Coach Tom Pucci’s Razorbacks in doubles teamed with fellow Australian Pat Serret. Doohan and Serret were the NCAA doubles runner-up team in 1981 and won the NCAA doubles in 1982.
As a professional, Doohan achieved a huge upset at Wimbledon. Ranked 70th starting the 1987 season, Doohan in the third round at Wimbledon defeated Boris Becker, ranked No. 1 in the world and the reigning Wimbledon champion for 1985 and 1986.
Upon learning of Doohan’s death, Becker posted on Twitter: “RIP mate! You were the better player. My heartfelt condolences to the family of #PeterDoohan! The tennis fraternity lost a great guy and wonderful player!”
Simon Robinson, an Australian UA grad and Razorbacks’ teammate of Doohan and living in Fayetteville as a businessman, returned to Australia during the summer to visit Doohan during the final stages of his debilitating illness.
Robinson marveled at Doohan’s upbeat attitude.
“He was a champion then and he still is,” Robinson said.
Locally, our condolences to the family of Terry Tucker, the former sports editor and sportswriter of The Springdale News who died last week at 63.
Innovative layouts of the sports pages marked Terry’s editing forte.