Pittman: Pigs need Malik Chavis on the field

FAYETTEVILLE — Malik Chavis saw his instant count in Arkansas’ first two games against Cincinnati and South Carolina more than double last Saturday against Missouri State.

In the mind of third-year coach Sam Pittman, that should likely be the norm in the coming weeks as the Razorbacks 10 reassess their secondary ahead of their Southwest Classic clash with No. 23 Texas A&M in Arlington, Texas this weekend. week.

Chavis saw the field for 11 snaps in Week 1 and 23 snaps in the team’s SEC opener in Week 2. His reps jumped to 70 – 56 in the passing game, 14 in the running game – against the Bears, according to the Pro. Football Focus.

“I think Malik Chavis is a guy we need on the field,” Pittman said Monday, anticipating Arkansas’ fourth week of games. “When he’s not playing in the corner, we need him safe. And I’m not sure we don’t need him safely and we just put (Hudson Clark) in the corner.

“Let’s experiment a little this week and see if we can’t get the right people in the right places. We have to put our five best guys on the field all the time.”

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Chavis scored a tackle during Arkansas’ 38-27 victory last week, but his opening nod and playing time show an apparent confidence from the defensive coaching staff in the Rison native. The only stop resulted from a lack of opportunity.

During a game in which Missouri State passed for 357 yards and recorded 10 shooting for at least 16 yards, Chavis performed admirably. According to the PFF, he allowed 1 catch for 13 yards on 4 targets.

The submission against Chavis came in the Bears’ opening series.

“You just say, ‘OK, who are my top five players?'” Pittman said Monday. “And then you put them there where they need to go. I think some of that is going to happen this week, and it could be Chavis on the field safely or even (Clark) on the field safely.

“I don’t know exactly, but we will certainly look into it.”

PFF analysis currently has Chavis with a coverage degree of 60.7 and 78 of his snaps coming at cornerback. He also has 10 reps in free safety.

Chavis was a part of the secondary who in preseason received praise from defensive coordinator Barry Odom and Dominique Bowman, who is in his first season coaching cornerbacks after arriving from Marshall. Odom noticed that Chavis was able to play at various points quite flawlessly.

Chavis (6-2, 192 pounds), moved into the corner during the spring. In his short time with Chavis, Bowman saw great potential.

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“Every opportunity he gets to play in the corner, he gets better, so every day he lines up in the corner, he gets better,” Bowman said. “I think he’s a professional if he believes in technique and fundamentals and takes it from the neck up.

“He will be a good player. He’s long, athletic, big, strong.”

Coming from a small school in southern Arkansas, Chavis admitted he wasn’t fully up to date on everything it takes to play defensively at the college level early in his Razorbacks career. Supreme athletics carried him through his years of preparation.

If he plays a high volume of snaps this weekend against the Aggies, he will be tasked with helping Arkansas slow down a Texas A&M passing game that has had fights (57.5% pass completion, 118.5 yards per game) in a 1-1 stretch against Appalachian State and Miami.

“On safety, you just have to look a lot more across the field, and then into the corner, you just have to focus more on that guy,” Chavis said. “Like, if I miss, you know, just bite the wrong thing, I have a lot of recovery speed.

“Actually, it’s just a whole nine yards, putting it all together, and just going out on the field and running.”

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