The topic after practice Wednesday was Auburn quarterback Cam Newton. From players to Arkansas defensive coordinator Willy Robinson, all praised the Tigers run-pass phenom. They praised him for his 6-6, 250-pound frame and his willingness to use it.
Robinson said it will be a challenge to stop Newton when the Hogs visit Auburn this weekend.
"You can load the box and then they'll go outside with their perimeter game, an option or a bootleg," Robinson said. "You can have a man there to play him and you better be bringing another one because he is going to make the first one miss."
The Hogs will need all hands on board to play with Newton and the Tigers. It appears that the Hogs are healthy. Free safety Tramain Thomas, coming off a spectacular performance against A&M, missed practice Tuesday with fever and a sore throat, but he was back Wednesday.
"He'll be fine by Saturday," Robinson said. "He was ill yesterday, but he's better. Our training staff does a great job and he'll be alright."
That was about the only time Robinson discussed Arkansas personnel. Most of his post-practice session Wednesday centered on the Auburn offense.
"They have a fine offensive line," he said. "They have four seniors. They have gelled together and they are big and physical. They do a fine job and play well. They do a good job of getting a hat on a hat and being physical. It's going to be a challenge against that line."
The Hogs will have to be careful about pressuring Newton. If you collapse the pocket, he's out the gate, defensive end Jake Bequette said.
"You want to maintain pressure from all sides, but you have to be careful because if you get out of your lane and in the wrong area trying to push to him, you might leave him an opening," Bequette said. "And that might be what he wants. You have to rush hard, but you have to maintain your visions and angles. And when you get to him, he's strong and he can pull out of tackles."
Robinson said, "Really, he's like a tailback who can pass. He can run and he has been very good at pushing the ball down the field."
The Arkansas plan probably won't change.
"What we've been able to do is keep it simple and stay in our run fits and gaps and not make mistakes," Robinson said. "That's what we'll have to do against this offense and against this big, fast quarterback. It's a dynamic offense with great talent."
The Hogs have practiced against a big, fast quarterback, freshman Brandon Mitchell. The 6-4, 230-pounder is running the scout team this week.
"That helps us, but the thing that hurts is that we can't tackle him in practice," Robinson said. "You have guys in position, but you don't get to practice finishing the play because you don't want to hit him. So we have to understand that there may be some times that we don't get him down and then we transition into what it takes to get (Newton) down as the game progresses. If he escapes, we have to figure out how to keep that from happening again. You do that by swarming to him."
Wednesday Grid Update, 10/13
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