Trey Flowers had a sack party last year at Auburn, but the junior defensive end knows that Arkansas' success or failure this week depends on stopping the Tigers on the ground. Kickoff is at 5 p.m. Saturday on senior night at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
The Huntsville, Ala., native wasn't recruited by Auburn and took it out on the Tigers with three sacks in a 24-7 victory last year. But don't expect defensive coordinator Chris Ash or line coach Charlie Partridge to know much about that performance.
"We didn't even watch that tape," Ash said. "It was apples to orange for what we will see this year. We did go back to the 2011 tape, when Coach (Gus) Malzahn was there. We watched that game."
Partridge said he did know Flowers had a big game against the Tigers.
"But it just didn't make any sense to watch that tape for what Auburn is doing now," Partridge said. "We wanted to see two years ago when they were running this offense. We watched that tape."
There has been extensive study of the Tigers. Partridge said it reminds him of "old single wing stuff, things we have seen during our time playing Ohio State, West Virginia when we were at Pitt. Those teams ran these single wing plays. There are some wishbone plays with load action. The zone read is there for sure."
Flowers knows the Tigers lead the SEC in rushing at 315.8 yards per game.
"They come right at you with the run," Flowers said. "They give you big problems with the hurry-up style. That kills a lot of guys. Then, they run the zone read play and that forces you to be disciplined at defensive end and linebacker. They also have some tricks.
"We just have to stick to our keys. That's the way you play against an offense like what they have at Auburn."
Defensive end Chris Smith said, "It is about playing the zone read. Everyone knows discipline is required this week. I think you see how much they have improved their offense this year with the new coach, especially at quarterback."
The Tigers have four runners with over 400 yards rushing and all have at least four touchdowns. Tre Mason leads with 753 yards and nine TDs. Quarterback Nick Marshall has 461 net rushing yards, after taking 69 off for lost yardage plays.
"You watch Marshall, you think he's handed it off, but he's still got it," Smith said. "He's so good at selling it. You have to stay home because he's going to keep it a lot."
Partridge said there is some carry over from previous opponents this season.
"We've seen a lot of this already," he said. "So we've worked it. The main thing, you are going to see the dive, the quarterback keep and the pitch. You have to be sound in accounting for all three.
"What they do that is so good, they change the block on the edge. You have to fit the angles right and then they change it with various blocks. They create nice advantages there with different looks from the zone read."
Ash said simply, "It's a good offense. They get a lot of points, a lot of yards. It's a multiple attack with downhill power, counters and then they attack you with speed on the outside. We have to do a better job of keeping our leverage and improve our pursuit. We've seen very good offensive line play from them last year. I think that's what they improved the most this year, that offensive line."
Coaches have been asked all week about Bret Bielema's comment about an "abrasive" staff meeting last Thursday. Partridge, who came with Bielema from Wisconsin, said it was no different than many others in the past.
"I've seen those," he said. "This one wasn't any different, maybe just a little more intensity. If he sees something, he's going to make it known.
"It's a matter of making sure that everyone is attending to the details. Coach (Bielema) is going to pay attention to the details with the players, holding everyone accountable. He's going to hold coaches accountable to the details. He keeps track of details. That's always the case with him and when he thinks details are sliding, he is going to bring them up.
"I think that's the way you get better, staying on top of the details. It's one day at a time, one practice at a time. Right now, what I can tell you is that we had a very good Wednesday practice. That's all that mattered, getting it done on the field today.
"I know our players are doing the right things in practice and they are doing the right things off the field. It's taking care of those details that's important. I know with the players, when they are having good days off the field, football becomes so much easier to handle the details. When things are not going so well off the field, football becomes more difficult."
Bielema mentioned after the Alabama game that jobs might be on the line, but no one is giving away any personnel changes. Bielema hasn't. Ash didn't on Wednesday, either.
"We'll make some decisions after (Thursday's practice)," Ash said. "We are looking at some things."
Bielema said on his Wednesday radio show that the scrimmages with the twos, threes and developmental players last week in the open date may lead to some changes.
"There are a couple of guys who may be in the plan now," Bielema said. "They opened our eyes with what they did on Tuesday and Wednesday."
Partridge said that backups DeMarcus Hodge and Horace Arkadie have been impressive over the last few weeks. In that regard, he said Deatrich Wise could rest assured he'd stay at defensive end moving forward. Wise has played some inside in pass rush situations.
"We are happy with the progress of those guys inside," Partridge said. "They've got a little more work with Robert Thomas out and we like what we see. Wise is really progressing at end."
Bielema said Wednesday's practice reflected improvement in the passing game. He noted that quarterback Brandon Allen is nearing 100 percent with an injured shoulder.
"I think what you see is Brandon Allen getting more work and the timing getting better," he said. "He's gotten more work with the one receivers and the tight ends. At the end of Wednesday's practice, we went the length of the field in the two-minute drill and scored a touchdown. I think that's the first time in a don't know when that that's happened. I hope that's a good sign for things to come.
"I'm not sure his shoulder is completely healthy, but it's a lot better."
Wednesday Grid Upate, 10/30
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