|Jordan-Hare Stadium photo by Celeste Bell|
Auburn vs. Arkansas at JHS Auburn, AL
August 30th, 2014
Auburn has been in the middle of the heated debate of the off season. Under the guise of player safety, Bret Bielema, the Arkansas head football coach, became the spokes person for the slowing down of college football and the proposed "10 Second Rule" that Alabama's Nick Saban named while in support of this.
The debate has been tabled for now, and no doubt will be discussed more during the SEC Convention that will start on July 14th.
Arkansas defensively is led by Robb Smith in his first year as the Defensive Coordinator and Secondary coach. He had this to say the week before their spring game.
“In our opinion, when we got started the one thing we wanted to do was develop a more physical mentality," Coach Smith said. "I think our guys have embraced that. We’re certainly not where we want to be from that standpoint, but it is an emphasis with our players and they’ve really worked hard to bring that mentality each and every practice. There are no days off in this league. You’ve got to be able to line up, buckle the chinstrap and play physical football week in and week out. We’re starting to embrace that mentality on the defensive side of the ball."
I remember hearing Dee Ford tell the media that the most physical game Auburn played during the 2013 season was vs. Arkansas. Look for a new version from the Hawgs, and don't be surprised if Auburn is in a fight on opening day.
Lets look at the numbers from 2013. Arkansas allowed an average of 30.8 points per game while only scoring 20.7 themselves. These numbers place the Razorbacks 89th in scoring defense and 106th in scoring offense.
The Hawg defense allowed 178.42 yards rushing per game, at 4.67 yards per carry. Pass defense wasn't much better allowing 235 yards per game and 7.9 per pass attempt. All of this had them ranked 76th in the nation in total defense.
Arkansas signed the 26th ranked recruiting class in February.
The Hawgs are led by Jim Chaney on offense in his second year at that position. Here is what the official Razorback site has to say about Chaney.
"In his first season coordinating the Razorbacks’ offense, he oversaw a balanced offense that included contributions from four freshman All-Americans, SEC Freshman of the Year Alex Collins and first-team All-American Travis Swanson. Arkansas’ offense, which included underclassmen starters at quarterback, running back, tight end and two positions on the offensive line, rushed for at least 200 yards in seven of 12 games and broke the single-season school record with just 8.0 sacks allowed. The Razorbacks led the SEC and ranked third in the NCAA with an average of 0.67 sacks allowed per game and also topped the conference and ranked sixth in the country allowing one snap every 37.63 pass attempts.
Arkansas’ 5.28 yards-per-carry average from 2013 ranked as the fourth-highest single-season average in school history. The effort was led by freshman Alex Collins, the second freshman in school history and 10th true freshman in SEC history to rush for 1,000 yards, and sophomore Jonathan Williams, the second Razorback duo to each rush for at least 900 yards in the same season."
Arkansas did run for a very impressive 5.28 yards per attempt last season. On top of that they averaged 5.53 yards per play. These numbers would lead you to believe there was success in Fayetteville, AR, there was not. Their 3-9 record is an indication of the bad season, the fact that all three wins were at home and against non-conference foes is the conviction that this team was not very good last year.
While Auburn is returning a large portion of its National Championship runner-up team, this is still the first game of the season. The Tigers have had a history of starting slow. One huge plus, is that Coach Malzahn seemed to have his team ready and focused each week last season. With the exception of the LSU game, the Tigers were within striking distance of each of their opponents throughout every game, and ultimately successful vs. their regular season foes.
With the home field advantage, the Tigers should win this game. While it's still a long way off, I can't see the Hawgs coming into JHS and walking out victorious. Auburn has the opportunity to break the jinx of preseason lofty rankings. Call it Auburn 38 Arkansas 17