It's All On The Line

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas' defense must worry about more than the power and speed of Auburn running backs Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown when the Hogs face them in Jordan-Hare Stadium today.

First-year Auburn offensive coordinator Al Borges, a graduate of Cal State-Chico, has made Williams and Brown more effective this season with his unique brand of West Coast offense.

Hogs defensive coordinator Dave Wommack tried to explain it.

"The biggest thing about Auburn's offense is they scatter from so many personnel groups before the play, and then they don't scatter back to conventional sets," Wommack said.

In other words, Borges is a master of disguises.

"What might look at first like a '21,' or two backs and a tight end, might turn into a four wide receivers set with the same personnel," Wommack said. "They're good at disguise - they make the defense think three times before the ball is snapped."

Brown's versatility is a big factor in Borges' schemes. The 232-pound senior fullback often lines up outside, and is Auburn's second-leading receiver with 14 catches.

Both Williams and Brown have had 1,000-yard rushing seasons in the past for Auburn.

"I consider Williams a great back who will play at the next level, and Brown is great, too," Wommack said.

Arkansas' linebackers must play perhaps their best game of the season to keep Williams and Brown corralled.

Chris Vaughn, who coaches Arkansas' outside linebackers, said, "We've got to get off the blocks and tackle well. Both of those backs are a big part of their plan, and Brown is a difference-maker as a runner and receiver."

Former Auburn defensive standout Tracy Rocker, now Arkansas' defensive line coach, called Williams and Brown "two of the best backs in the nation."

Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said flatly, "Our defensive line knows we've got to stop the run and get some pressure on their quarterback (Jason Campbell)."

Nutt and Wommack don't want a repeat of Arkansas' second quarter at Florida, in which the Gators scored 28 points in UF's 45-30 win two weeks ago.

"We need to get to where we can play 60 minutes, for sure," Wommack said. "The first five minutes of any game is critical, and our first (defensive) series against Auburn is very important. We've got to watch their personnel packages."

Nutt said Arkansas' defense tried to cover all the Auburn scenarios during Wednesday's practice.

"Auburn's two backs are so capable, with such power and speed," he said. "They have an excellent offensive line, and (Campbell) is playing the best he ever has. Auburn is very good at play-action passes, and they're keeping things simple for Campbell. We worked on third-and-short, third-and-long and third-and-medium."

Nutt said the Hogs' young secondary has displayed a sense of urgency since last week and "it's been contagious" on the UA defense.

Wommack, besides playing "cops and robbers" with Borges as Arkansas' defensive coordinator, also coaches the inside linebackers.

Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville knows that territory.

"Tommy coached linebackers while I coached quarterbacks at Arkansas State under Larry Lacewell (as a graduate assistant in 1984)," Nutt recalled. "But we only worked together for three-and-half weeks. After one week of summer camp I went to Oklahoma State as an assistant. So Tommy and I never went at each other in practice."

Nutt and Tuberville have gone at each other six times as head coaches, with Nutt winning four (including one when Tuberville coached Ole Miss in 1998).

Auburn ranks second in the Southeastern Conference to Arkansas in scoring and total offense this season.

So if Wommack's troops can slow Williams, Brown and Co., the Razorbacks could carry the day.

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