Did Arkansas catch a break finally on the schedule? It sounds a little bit like that after listening to defensive coordinator Chris Ash and linebacker Braylon Mitchell after practice Wednesday.
Arkansas will be playing similar offenses for the second straight week with a trip to Ole Miss on Saturday. Kickoff is at 11:21 a.m. in Oxford. Auburn, last week's foe, runs a spread attack that has a similar alignment and a no huddle base. There is some carry over in schemes.
"Yes, quite a bit," said Mitchell, now the team's leading tackler with 62, one better than safety Alan Turner. "It's different players, but they are in a lot of the same spots as Auburn."
Ash said the Hogs have had the start of a good week in practice.
"Our guys have practiced hard," Ash said. "And, yes, the schematics are a lot alike this week between Auburn and now Ole Miss. It's very similar."
Ash is not sure who is healthy for the Rebels after an open date. They have battled injury at running back. But he knows who to expect at wide receiver for sure. He recruited wide receiver Laquon Treadwell in high school.
"He's big, fast and talented," Ash said. "They are very talented at receiver. I recruited Chicago and watched Treadwell for several years. That's what jumps out at you, their personnel at wide receiver. That's the strength of their offense.
"Those receivers make yards after the catch. They can go up for the ball and when they have it, they will take you on and jump over you and run by you. They present a challenge.
"We know their backs have a lot of speed, too. The good thing is that what they are doing is similar and that's helped our players this week. The formations are very similar."
Mitchell is playing his third position of the season. The good news is that he prepared for such a challenge by playing all three in the spring and in fall camp, prepped at all three by linebackers coach Randy Shannon in case of injuries.
"I probably played only a couple of snaps at mike," Mitchell said. "I played strong early, then moved to weak the last few weeks while Jarrett Lake was at middle. Now, with Brooks Ellis in the middle and Jarrett back at will, I can go back to strong."
Does he have a preference?
"It's probably strong, where I'm at now," Mitchell said. "That's a position out of the three that is the most often in space. That's where I want to be right now."
The Rebels will try to put pressure on the Hogs to make tackles in space. It may present a lot of tackle opportunities for Mitchell. That could allow him to make a run to be the team's leading tackler on the season. He did not know he had inched ahead of Turner until told by reporters Wednesday night.
"I wasn't aware of that," he said. "I'm just glad for the opportunity to help my team and my defense. I wasn't sure. Hard work is starting to pay off. This has been a good season for me. It's been three years since I've been on the field hardly at all."
Mitchell said he's just glad to be making contact in games. He remembers game after game over the first three years of his Arkansas career when he was never sore on Sunday.
"I'm sore on Sunday now and that's a very good thing," he said. "I didn't feel that way last year. I played on special teams and a little as far as snaps from scrimmage. I think you could count the number of plays on one hand, maybe three for the season."
What does he think of the performance by Brooks Ellis in his first start against Auburn? The true freshman made six tackles against the Tigers.
"I thought he did really well," Mitchell said. "He's turned into a leader for us. He knows how to get us lined up and he is going to be a very exciting player. The good news, we lose some linebackers and I know he's going to be making plays for a long time. He's doing really well for a freshman.
"I think what you see is that he's a quick learner. Coach Shannon has worked to get him knowledge of our defense. He's got it now and he's going to keep getting better.
"Brooks made a big difference last week. We still gave up too many rushing yards. We want to improve on that this week.
"I thought Brooks grew up on the field last week. He did a good job and he's going to do better than that from what I've seen in practice. For a freshman to start, that speaks a lot about the confidence the coaches have in Brooks."
Mitchell was asked about the stretch the Ole Miss passing game will put on the linebackers.
"I think our main job will be to stop the run," Mitchell said. "They throw short to those receivers and we'll get there when we can, but we have to play the run first. We are going to ask our corners and safeties to handle those guys on the outside and we'll get there."
The Hogs are trying to snap a six-game losing streak. What is it like in the locker room?
"It's been tough," Mitchell said. "No one likes that. But on the inside, we know we are still working hard. I think you see that we are sticking together if you are on the inside. Guys are working their tail off in practice."
Wednesday Grid Update, 11/6
Hawgs Daily Top Stories
TCU vs Iowa State primerAfter falling in double-overtime to Arkansas, TCU looks to get back to their winning ways against Iowa State.
Horned Frog Insider09/15/2016
The Ultimate Midlands TeamThere is a lot of talent in the Midlands region, with a vast majority of the highest rated recruits playing high school football in the Lone Star State. Which prospects made the…
These rival helmet color swaps are revoltingSwapping rival teams' helmet colors? It shouldn't have been done, but someone did it anyway.
Post-July 2017 Top 100 Player RankingsWith the July evaluation periods, Nike Skills Academy, adidas Nations and Under Armour's Elite 24 over, Scout's basketball recruiting team has updated the 2017 top 100. DeAndre…