FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas’ defensive backs had problems throughout the season opener, struggling to keep pace with Auburn’s much-improved receiving corps.

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas’ defensive backs had problems throughout the season opener, struggling to keep pace with Auburn’s much-improved receiving corps.


The troubles left Arkansas defensive coordinator Robb Smith saying a day later the Razorbacks were "looking at everybody" as they worked to solve the issues. And it appears Arkansas will turn to some younger players to help shore up the problems.


Freshmen Henre’ Toliver and Josh Liddell, who both earned a few snaps in the 45-21 loss at Auburn, are expected to play a larger role in the secondary when the Razorbacks play Nicholls State on Saturday. The youngsters may not be in the starting lineup when the defense steps on the field, but Arkansas defensive backs coach Clay Jennings said "you can expect for those guys to play" after solid debuts.


"I don’t believe those guys are afraid of the big stage," Jennings said. "It’s still a growing process and the one thing I have to remember is they’re freshmen. But the one thing I’ve been talking to them about is when they step out on the field there is no classification. We’re all just Arkansas Razorbacks trying to get a win."


Jennings said Toliver, who is from Marrero, La., played 13 of the 70 defensive snaps on top of his special teams duties. He entered the game as the backup to sophomore Jared Collins and was one of three cornerbacks that lined up Saturday.


"He flashed, showed some good things," Smith said. "Between him Carroll and Jared, I thought we had a pretty good rotation there. We’ve just got to keep getting better."


The 6-foot-1, 186-pound Toliver, who had a strong preseason camp, said the experience was valuable. But he admitted to getting off to a rough start.


"I was nervous," Toliver said. "Especially getting thrown into a big game like that. I think I handled it well."


So did Liddell, who Arkansas coach Bret Bielema described as a "great ball hawk" after preseason camp.


Liddell, who is from Pine Bluff, wrapped up the preseason behind starting safety Alan Turner on the depth chart. He’ll be one of three players available at the position with redshirt freshman De’Andre Coley (lower leg injury) and junior Sleepy McKinney (heel) expected to sit out with injuries.


Liddell was not available for interviews Wednesday, but Jennings said he played three or four snaps on defense.


It didn’t come after the game got out of hand, either. Jennings said Liddell first stepped on the field late in the second quarter when Auburn was in its two-minute offense with the score tied 21-21. The Tigers missed a field goal and the game was tied at halftime.


"They lined up against Auburn and neither one of them flinched," Jennings said.


Nicholls State isn’t expected to present the same challenge through the air Saturday after throwing for 200 yards in last week’s 44-16 loss at Air Force.


Still, Arkansas hopes the home opener will be a good training ground for younger players like Liddell and Toliver. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said earlier this week he wanted younger players on the field more after the Razorbacks surrendered 595 yards in the Auburn loss. It was the second-most allowed by an SEC team last week.


"I think that the one thing you can’t do in the back end is you can’t play tentative," Bielema said. "You can’t play in a way that you’re hesitant in any way. As some things started to unfold, there was just a step of hesitation.


In addition to Toliver and Liddell, young linebackers like Dwayne Eugene, Randy Ramsey and Khalia Hackett are preparing for playing time. Bielema also wants to see young offensive players like center Frank Ragnow and wide receivers Kendrick Edwards and Jojo Robinson earning snaps against Nicholls State.


Jennings said the young guys in Arkansas’ secondary will be ready to go.


He couldn’t put a number on how many snaps they’ll play, but wants to make sure his starters in the secondary are fresh. So they’ll get their opportunities to make an impact on Arkansas’ defense as it tries to bounce back from last week’s loss.


"I’ll say this about the young guys: they do a great job as far as coming prepared each week," Jennings said. "Playing time has be earned. It’s not just going to be given. That’s one of the edges of Arkansas. We earn everything. And as long as they continue to bring great effort and show some enthusiasm about playing at a high level for Arkansas on defense, shoot, those guys will get some playing time."