Hogs In A Rush For TDs

FAYETTEVILLE -- Something's got to give Saturday when Auburn's stingy defense lines up against Arkansas' running attack.

The No. 4 Tigers boast one of the top rush defenses in the country. They're one of only two Division I teams that haven't allowed a rushing touchdown this season and they haven't given up a 100-yard rusher in the past 11 games dating back to last season.

Arkansas, on the other hand, has scored a rushing touchdown in its last 13 straight games with the last goose egg coming in last season's 10-3 loss against Auburn.

"They haven't played against a team like us yet this year," said Hogs starting tailback DeCori Birmingham. "It's a credit to their defense, because they've got a really good defense, but we're not going to be intimidated.

"Knowing they haven't allowed a rushing touchdown just gives us something to prove because we feel like we've got a very good rushing offense.

"We have too many weapons to worry about not being able to get in the end zone on the ground."

Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville expects a collision if Birmingham gets the ball in the red zone against his defense, adding that "streaks are made to be broken."

"Birmingham has really come on," Tuberville said. "He's probably been more consistent than any running back that they've had there in the last few years.

"They're very dangerous on offense and they're the top offense in the league after playing some tough games."

It's actually been seven games since Auburn allowed a rushing touchdown. The last time the Tigers went seven games without giving up a touchdown on the ground was in 1998 when current Arkansas defensive line coach Tracy Rocker was an All-American tackle.

If the Razorbacks can find the end zone on a running play, Birmingham said they'll treat it like any other touchdown.

"We won't celebrate," Birmingham said. "There won't be a need to because it's nothing new to us. We expect to score touchdowns in the running game, but we know it may be tougher against Auburn because they have a really good team.

"Every year, they like to play smash mouth like we like to smash mouth, so it's going to be a boxing match and the last man standing is going to win."

Peebles Earns Start
Senior noseguard Titus Peebles is slated to make his first career start ahead of sophomore Jeremy Harrell, who started four of the first five games there.

"Titus has gotten a lot better so he's going to start," Rocker said. "Most of all, his approach is where it needs to be. Every day in practice and in my meetings, he's trying to get better. It's become obvious that this is very important to him and being his last year, he wants to play a bigger role.

"All I ask is for everyone to try to get better and he's been playing his role and being supportive and if you're trying to get better like he has, I'm all for you."

Harrell, who has 19 tackles, was named the Southeastern Conference's defensive linemen of the week following a career-high nine-tackle performance in Arkansas' 27-10 win against Alabama.

Peebles has 12 tackles, including seven solo stops, in five games. He transferred to Arkansas last season from Georgia Military College.

More New Starters?
Arkansas coach Houston Nutt declined to name starters at free safety and right tackle for Saturday's game. He did say that Matt Gilbow is "looking" like he might win out ahead of Nate Garner at tackle, a position left open after Zac Tubbs' season-ending ankle injury last week.

At free safety, the Hogs continue to use junior college transfer Randy Kelley ahead of Vickiel Vaughn on the first team. Vaughn, who's fifth on the team with 21 tackles, missed a handful of tackles and assignments during a 45-30 loss at Florida.

"It just creates a healthy atmosphere," Nutt said. "We've had an attitude of, 'Let's practice with a purpose and let's get better.'"

Grid Bits
Defensive back Chris Houston, who said he's fully recovered from a high-ankle sprain, spent extra time conditioning after Tuesday's practice. The extra work was because the redshirt freshman missed Sunday's workout when flight problems kept him from returning to Fayetteville in time. He's not expected to miss any game time, though ... True freshman Cedric Logan did not practice Tuesday after spraining his left shoulder on Sunday ... Senior defensive end Elliott Harris missed Tuesday after having some teeth pulled ... Cedric Washington lined up at punt returner for the first time this season and appears to be the back-up for Birmingham, who needs just one return yard to become Arkansas' all-time leading returner.


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