By Jay Coulter
It would be a mistake to overlook this weekend’s game at Arkansas. As fans, it’s easy to look ahead to next week’s showdown in Baton Rouge. But that would be a huge miscalculation.
Auburn is going to get all they can handle when they walk into Donald W. Reynolds Stadium on Saturday night. Look for Arkansas to throw everything they’ve got and more at the Tigers.
Why? Because a loss to Auburn will likely mean the beginning of the end for coach Houston Nutt. Despite having the best backfield in all of college football, Arkansas has limped to a 3-2 record and is still looking for its first conference win.
Message boards and Razorback blogs are heated this week with rumors of Nutt’s demise. A loss to the Tigers would only increase the pressure on Nutt and almost guarantee an end to his run in Fayetteville.
After Auburn, the Razorbacks still must face South Carolina at home and travel to Tennessee and LSU. The situation is grim at best.
In other words, Auburn better be ready. Playing a late night game on the road in the SEC is a tall task, regardless of who you play. When it means facing the two best runners in the country, things get even tougher.
Add in a coach who’s back is against the wall and things become darn near impossible. Las Vegas agrees – they have made the Hogs a three point favorite.
You can bet Darren McFadden and Felix Jones will get their yards. The key for the Auburn defense will be stopping the big play. Last year, McFadden reeled off a 63 yard run that broke Auburn’s back. In all, Arkansas had six runs that accounted for 144 yards of rushing. Things will have to be different this year for Auburn to have a chance.
It will be homecoming for two of Auburn’s heralded freshmen. Right tackle Lee Ziemba (Rogers, AR) will return to his home state for the first time as a starter for Auburn. Also returning will be back-up quarterback Kodi Burns who’s from Fort Smith, Arkansas.
When the Tigers look across the field to the Arkansas sideline, they’ll see the greatest Auburn defensive player to ever wear the uniform. Outland and Lombardi Trophy winner Tracy Rocker is defensive line coach for the Hogs.
The defensive coordinator for Arkansas is Reggie Herring. You may remember that he served on Pat Dye’s staff from 1986-91 as linebackers coach. He’s a class guy and still an Auburn man. His son, Adam signed with the Tigers this year and is a freshman linebacker.