Ra­zor­backs seek to max­i­mize ’tween­ers

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - THE SECOND PAGE - NATE ALLEN

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.”

IN MEMORIAMS

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.

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